Priorities: House progressives torpedo police-funding bill while adding 87,000 IRS agents

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Democrats’ pitch in the midterms: More IRS audits to target you, and fewer police to protect you. What could go wrong?

As Nancy Pelosi readies the so-called Inflation Reduction Act and its $80 billion to add 87,000 agents to the IRS, Punchbowl reports that progressive Democrats have succeeded in killing the police-funding bill:

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The House is scheduled to return Friday to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, setting up a big win for President Joe Biden and the Democrats.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are unlikely to move ahead with a series of bills to boost police funding, according to lawmakers and aides.

While vulnerable Frontliners and Democratic moderates are pressing the leadership for a floor vote on these measures, opposition from progressives and the Congressional Black Caucus has derailed this effort.

Progressives and the CBC were concerned about the lack of accountability language in the bills before the House left for the August recess, so a floor vote was delayed. The hope among Democrats at that time was they could work out their differences and take up the measures when the House returned to take up a reconciliation.

But it’s not happening apparently. And it’s not at all clear it can happen in September either, despite Pelosi’s support for the effort.

Supposedly, House Democrats planned to pass the police funding along with the so-called “assault weapons” ban. That plan reportedly fell apart late last month, only to be revived momentarily and pushed off until after Labor Day. The House passed its AWB bill on July 29 while still promising to iron out the police funding.

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Now, however, it appears that progressives have reneged on their pledge to moderates on police funding. Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal told Punchbowl that she didn’t want to step on the Democrats’ message of unity, or something:

“We have communicated to all of leadership exactly where we are. We communicated it last week … that there simply wasn’t the votes. It would be a very, very divisive thing to do. We need to be disciplined as Democrats and not step on our success, not snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Let’s focus on this massive victory for the American people this week.”

This could be a little bit of payback. After months of holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage to the $5 trillion Build Back Better plan, progressives finally allowed a vote on the former while being promised a vote on the latter by moderates. That didn’t work out for Jayapal at the time, and she’s likely looking for a chance to stick it to the moderates this time around.

If this is the opportunity progressives choose, though … yikes. Americans are facing generational-high crime rates, especially in the cities, while progressive efforts to defund police and roll back criminal prosecutions worsen their lived experience. Rather than take a moment for a slam-dunk way to protect at-risk incumbents in this cycle, House Democrats will instead spend an enormous amount of money to double the IRS and demand greater intrusion into the lives of ordinary Americans.

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That’s quite the juxtaposition: funding tax audits rather than crime prevention. It should pay off handsomely, too … for Republicans, assuming they publicize this choice widely.

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David Strom 10:40 AM | April 12, 2024
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