Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and one of the rumored contenders for the No. 2 spot on his ticket have just found themselves on opposite sides of a hot-button political issue.
While Biden has declared that he does not support the push to defund police, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) appears to have come out in favor of it, at least in some circumstances, according to the New York Post.
Harris speaks out
Harris on Tuesday appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday, where she gave her opinion on the movement to defund or abolish police departments, which is currently being advocated by many on the left in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“I support investing in communities so that they become more healthy and therefore more safe,” she said, according to the Post. “I applaud Mayor Garcetti for doing what he’s done.”
Eric Garcetti (D), the mayor of Los Angeles, announced last week a decision to cut police funding by up to $150 million in order to redirect that money towards youth education, jobs, and health initiatives, as Newsweek reported.
According to Harris, this is the right move.
“Right now, what we’re seeing in America is many cities spend over one-third of their entire city budget on policing but meanwhile we’ve been defunding public schools for years in America,” she said when asked about Garcetti’s plan, according to the Post. The senator went on:
We’ve got to reexamine what we’re doing with American taxpayer dollars and ask the question, are we getting the right return on our investment? Are we actually creating healthy and safe communities?
Indeed, Harris’ position seems to be one of qualified support for the defund the police movement. She applauds the taking of resources from the police, even if doing so impacts a substantial portion of their budget, and she wants to see those funds shifted elsewhere.
Internal division emerges
Biden, however, has taken a different approach to calls to defund the police, openly stating on at least two occasions that he does not support the movement. Both declarations came on Monday, with the first one being a statement made by his campaign.
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Biden spokesman Andrew Yates wrote, according to ABC News. “He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain.”
Then, Biden reiterated his stance personally during an interview with CBS News, saying:
No, I don’t support defunding the police… I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.
Biden and Harris — who is reportedly among those under serious consideration for the VP spot — find themselves at odds on an issue of critical importance to a wide swath of the Democratic electorate. Does this mean that the California senator is likely out of the running for the job? Only time will tell.