Republican leadership unveils ‘back the blue’ legislative priorities in anticipation of midterms red wave
EXCLUSIVE: Top House Republicans have put together a future-forward plan to push law enforcement friendly legislation, in anticipation that the GOP will become the majority party in Congress after the November midterm elections.
Last year, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., established the American Security Task Force, which is headed by House Committee on Homeland Security ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y. Katko met with law enforcement on the front lines of the crime and border crises over the last year as part of the task force, and developed solutions that Republicans plan to implement when back in power.
The final list of four priorities, exclusively shared with Fox News Digital, include ensuring resourcing and funding for law enforcement, addressing and tackling recruitment issues, taking action to stop violence against officers and penalizing “progressive” prosecutors.
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“These pillars we came up with are trying to attack the defunding issue, but also the retention issue, and the disrespect to law enforcement issue, which is really terrible and targeted,” Katko said.
Another key component of the plan is to stop more liberal district attorneys and other “soft-on-crime” prosecutors, which the GOP plans to do by stripping away federal funding.
Rep. Katko participated in the Back the Blue Bike Tour and visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
(Office of Rep. John Katko)
“These progressives prosecutors are just not prosecuting cases. They’re adding to the attrition rates, adding to the danger, they’re adding to the animus against police officers. They’re adding to the air of lawlessness for bad guys who think they can act with impunity because there are no consequences.“
“A lot of them get federal dollars…We are not going to fund progressive prosecutors’ ability to become apologists for criminals anymore. We’re just not going to do it,” continued Katko.
The Republicans’ framework is designed to ensure that law enforcement will receive necessary funding without excessive federal government “red tape” or interference. In addition, the lawmakers reference a survey that noted retirements of police officers were up by 45% in 2021 and departments were finding it difficult to fill empty positions. Their solution is to have Congress direct federal grants for recruitment use.
Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., a former sheriff who has over 40 years of experience in law enforcement, led the police officer pillar of the task force and helped organized listening sessions in New York City, Syracuse, Austin, Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Northeast Florida and Eastern Indiana in order to come up with the GOP framework.
Katko said traveling to all the different task force events revealed the “bleak” state of law enforcement across the country, that is worse than any other point throughout his over two decades working with law enforcement.
“It really was jaw dropping… never have I seen law enforcement in such a bad state. From a morale standpoint. From a statistical standpoint. And the picture seems quite bleak going forward,” said Katko.
“Law enforcement are very, very supportive of what we want to do,” Katko told Fox News Digital, noting that the Republicans didn’t just look at statistics they went to “law enforcement representatives, unions, front line people, not to bulls— politicians” to come up with their plan.
John Katko and Kevin McCarthy address the press during a congressional border delegation visit to El Paso, Texas, on March 15, 2021.
Large police organization, Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), endorsed the GOP plan.
“The MCCA thanks Leader McCarthy, Rep. Katko, Rep. Rutherford, and the entire American Security Task Force for developing this framework that supports law enforcement. The MCCA participated in several of the roundtables that helped inform this work, and it is heartening to see our feedback incorporated into the final product. The legislation that this framework leads to will help address the numerous challenges facing our brave law enforcement officers,” MCCA Executive Director Laura Cooper told Fox News Digital.
The lawmakers are unveiling their plan ahead of National Police Week 2022, which is aimed at honoring law enforcement and their contributions to society and recognizing valor and sacrifices of officers. The week full of events begins officially on Sunday.
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“The Democratic Party across this country caused these problems. And the American people are not stupid, they’re not going to buy what the administration’s laying out,” said Katko.
“If the administration was truly sincere and really wanted to fix this problem, they’d call leadership in the Republican Party and sit down with them. They haven’t, I haven’t received one phone call from anybody in the Biden administration, and they know I’m the head of this task force. They’re not interested in trying to find solutions, they’re interested in trying to find political solutions. And that’s really unfortunate,” Katko told Fox News Digital.
Katko says he expects to get support from a “healthy number” of Democrats heading into the midterms because polling indicates Americans are supportive of law enforcement funding.
A few House Democrats on Thursday led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., held a bipartisan press conference expressing displeasure with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for refusing to put their pro-law enforcement bill on the floor.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered remarks on the Senate floor Thursday to kick off Police Week.
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“Yesterday, we observed the beginning of ceremonies honoring National Police Week. Soon we will mark Peace Officers Memorial Day. Tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel from across the country will gather here in our nation’s capital to honor the service and sacrifice of their fallen brothers and sisters,” said McConnell.
“America’s law enforcement personnel are always there when we need them most. The least Congress can do is have their backs.”