Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib called for policies associated with the Defund the Police movement in her response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union.
“We can’t police away homelessness, poverty, or mental health crises in our country. Care, not more criminalization, is how we ensure lasting safety for all. And we should end the war on drugs, fund legal defense, and enact criminal justice reforms like ending qualified immunity, that would transform our discriminatory legal system,” she said.
Tlaib, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, and other “Squad” members have been vocal advocates for defunding police. Tlaib has advocated for a plan pushed by the Movement for Black Lives that would release all federal prisoners within ten years of its implementation, and frequently describes the American justice system as “racist.”
During the State of the Union, Biden noted the deaths of two New York City police officers, while claiming that the American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion to local police.
“We should all agree, the answer is not to defund the police. The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities,” Biden said. “I ask Democrats and Republicans alike, pass my budget and keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Biden also did not mention student loan debt, which has been a major priority for left-wing Democrats like Tlaib, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Biden did call for “increas[ing] Pell Grants and increas[ing] our historic support of HBCUs, and invest[ing]” in community colleges, calling them “America’s best-kept secret.” (RELATED: Rep. Pressley Says Student Debt Is ‘Policy Violence’)
“President Biden can use his executive power now to take action, to deliver for the people. He can cancel federal student loan debt, which would be a lifeline for millions of Americans and a transformative economic stimulus,” Tlaib said.
Tlaib did praise Biden’s COVID-19 response, notably his eviction moratorium and the $1400 checks included in the American Rescue Plan while claiming that left-wing members of Congress were his biggest supporters. Tlaib was one of six House Democrats to vote against the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed with the support of thirteen Republicans in the House and 19 Republicans in the Senate.
“No one fought harder for President Biden’s agenda than progressives. We rallied together with our supporters, held town halls in our communities, engaged new people, and even played hardball in Congress,” she said. “But two forces stood in the way. A Republican Party that serves only the rich and the powerful, and just enough corporate-backed Democratic obstructionists to help them succeed.”