But the story is not quite that simple. In interviews with progressive activists, Biden has presented a much more nuanced position on defunding the police, suggesting he supports redirecting police funding toward other purposes, like mental health counseling and affordable housing. Such redirection would be, in fact, defunding police. To take one example from recent years: In 2017, House Republicans sought to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood and redirect the money to other health care centers. The move, which never took place, was widely referred to as “defunding” Planned Parenthood. It seems unlikely that anyone would have believed Republicans had they claimed they did not want to defund Planned Parenthood but simply redirect its funding to more productive uses.
In the interviews with progressives, Biden has not been asked to repeat the words, “I support defunding the police.” Instead, he has been asked whether he supports redirecting funding from police departments to other purposes. And he has said that he does.