Shortly after passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democratic Senators brought to the floor a $3.5 trillion budget resolution designed to allocate for "soft" infrastructure like universal childcare and curbing the climate crisis.
Unlike the $1.2 trillion legislation, the budget resolution has no Republican support. Because it's a budget resolution, Democrats were able to bypass the filibuster using the reconciliation process.
However, a resolution passed through reconciliation forces Senators to consider all amendments to the legislation. Throughout the hours-long "vote-a-rama," Republican Senators introduced a host of non-binding virtue signaling amendments in hopes of using Democrats' votes on the amendments against them in the midterms.
Late Tuesday night, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama introduced an amendment supposedly designed to discourage defunding the police.
Ever since the historic uprisings against racist police brutality the nation witnessed last summer, Republicans have accused Democrats of wanting to defund the police. While many Democrats favor reallocating stratospheric police budgets into social services and public goods that could significantly prevent crime, there's far from a unanimous consensus within the party.
Nevertheless, the right has reduced the issue to a single slogan designed to strike fear into their base.
What's more, police funding is overwhelmingly municipal, not budgeted at the federal level, so the United States Congress has virtually no say in communities' police budgets.
Tuberville's amendment would forbid federal funding from "mak[ing] up the difference" if a community cuts its police budget, effectively ensuring that defunded police budgets stay defunded. An enthusiastic Democratic Senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, was elated and mocked Tuberville on the floor, thanking him for the "gift" of letting Democrats go on record to say they support a bill designed to discourage defunding the police.
"If it wasn't complete abdication of Senate procedures and esteem I would walk over there and hug my colleague from Alabama. ... This senator has given the gift that finally once and for all we can put to bed this scurrilous accusation that somebody in this great, esteemed body would want to defund the police, so let's all of us—100 people—not walk, but sashay down there and vote for this amendment and put to rest the lies. I am sure I will see no political ads attacking everybody here over 'defund the police.'"
Tuberville's amendment passed unanimously.
Some praised Booker's sarcastic retort.
Others noted that Republicans will almost certainly keep saying Democrats are hell-bent on defunding police (something that, again, the U.S. Congress essentially has no power to do).
Sure enough, hours after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office issued a statement with the heading "Democrats Are Still the Party of Defunding the Police."