Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings — a former police chief now running for the U.S. Senate — blasted Senate Republicans Friday, accusing them of putting Capitol Police officers at risk of being furloughed.
Demings, of Orlando, responded to media reports that the Capitol Police is running out of money, and might furlough officers by August or September if Congress doesn’t cough up some more money for the department that specializes in protecting its members and facilities.
Ever since supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, clashing with Capitol Police, causing the deaths of some and injuring others, the relationship has been strained between the police there and congressional Republicans unwilling to stand with the police.
Now Demings is accusing Republicans — specifically Senate Republicans — of de facto defunding of police assigned to protect them. Demings did not explicitly mention her probable 2022 General Election opponent, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, but she laid into GOP Senators broadly.
“Today’s news that the U.S. Capitol Police may have to begin furloughing officers is a shameful consequence of Senate Republicans blocking the security funding that we passed in May. Every single Republican in Congress voted against this police funding, which was put forward to secure the Capitol after over 150 police officers were beaten and bloodied on January 6th by insurgents seeking to overturn the election,” Demings declared in a news release.
“Republicans in Congress turned their backs and shut their doors on the families of Capitol Police Officers who lost their lives in our defense. Congressional Republicans’ support of law enforcement is a sham, and their ‘law and order’ rhetoric is a thin pretense to cover up their belief that they and their friends are above the law,” she continued.
Rubio’s office did not respond Friday to inquiries about Demings’ comments.
Demings was referring to House Resolution 3237, the “Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act of 2021.” The bill would have provided additional funding for the Capitol Police. But it was much more than that. It also would have provided additional funding for a number of other agencies and offices, including the House of Representatives and the Senate. It totaled $1.9 billion, allocated for security upgrades, repairs needed for damage caused by insurrectionists, reimbursements for costs of responding to the Jan. 6 attack, support for prosecutions arising from the attack, and establishment of a quick reaction police force, National Guard and others to ward off future attacks.
The House approved the bill 213-212. Three Democrats voted no. No Republicans voted yes. The Senate has not taken up the bill or any counterpart.
Demings served as an Orlando police officer for 26 years, retiring as Orlando Police Chief. Her husband, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, also served a career in law enforcement, serving as both Orlando Police Chief and as Orange County Sheriff.
“Why won’t all members of Congress support the police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us on January 6th? Why did 21 House Republicans vote against recognizing those officers for their unwavering courage and heroism with the Congressional Gold Medal? Why did Senate Republicans block an independent bipartisan investigation into the funders, inciters, and organizers of the January 6th attack? Why didn’t a single Republican support the $350 billion in funding we passed for local police departments and other first responders?” Demings inquired.
“The painful truth is, they use law enforcement as a political prop to disguise their contempt for equal protection under the law for every American,” she continued. “To my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you may not be there for them, but if you need them today, the United States Capitol Police will be there for you. America deserves better and the Capitol Police deserve better.”