Biden wants cities to give unused COVID funds to cops

What if, instead, they did literally anything else?

Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Call me crazy, but I would think the looming onset of (yet another!) pandemic surge summer would be the sort of thing that might prompt the federal government to make more vaccinations available, while ensuring existing COVID funding be used to shore up local efforts to address the impending health crisis. Evidently, this is not the case for the Biden administration, which is reportedly not only preparing to ration vaccine supplies due to funding concerns, but is simultaneously calling for cities already flush with too much stimulus cash to simply beef up their police departments instead.

According to a Politico report published early Friday morning, the White House is quietly looking at ways to slim down its suite of COVID response efforts in light of congressional failure to secure new funding for the still-ongoing crisis. Among the cuts reportedly being discussed are rationing the next line of cutting edge vaccines meant to address the virus’s newest variants and iterations — crucial medicine that could, if the money doesn’t come through, be reserved solely for the highest risk demographics rather than offered to the public at large.

“All that needs to happen is to have a variant emerge that’s highly infectious and causes more morbidity and mortality and we’re back to ground zero,” American Public Health Association executive director Georges Benjamin told Politico. “We have not finished the job.”

Ironically, “not finishing the job” could also be used to describe the administration’s reported plans to encourage cities to use unspent money from last year’s nearly $2 trillion COVID relief bill on their local police departments and crime prevention programs, despite the bill already earmarking billions of dollars earmarked for just that purpose.

When Biden makes the request official during scheduled remarks Friday, he will reportedly call for cities to used the funds to put “more police officers on the beat for accountable community policing, expanding evidence-based community violence intervention programs, and preventing crime by making our neighborhoods stronger with more educational and economic opportunities.” All this comes as some local police departments are enjoying so much resource surplus that they’re donating their equipment to help Ukraine fight off Russia’s ongoing invasion. In fact, despite bad-faith Republican allegations that Democrats are the party of defunding the police, under the Biden administration’s watch, law enforcement funding has surged to astronomical heights.

According to one NBC News source, described as a “senior administration official,” the White House is pushing to use the unspent COVID money now “because we are approaching another summer and he wants to stress the priority of using these dollars for public safety and violence prevention.”

Interesting! I can think of another way those unspent COVID relief dollars could be put toward public safety during a COVID surge in the COVID pandemic. Can you?