WASHINGTON — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., criticized calls for defunding police departments, arguing that he wouldn't be alive if it weren't for the Capitol Police officers who saved him during the congressional baseball shooting in 2017.
"I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for the heroic actions of police officers," Scalise said Monday in an interview with Trump aide Mercedes Schlapp on the campaign's Team Trump Online show. "The Capitol Police not only saved my life but so many others, that day three years ago on the baseball field."
In 2017, Scalise and three other people were wounded when a gunman opened fire on members of the Republican congressional baseball team during a practice. The gunman was shot and later died.
Scalise said it would be a "chilling thought to most people in this country" if you live in a community, call 911 and "there's gonna be nobody to answer that call."
Critics are suggesting of variety of approaches to overhauling law enforcement agencies and stopping police brutality, including dismantling, defunding, reform and abolition of the local departments.
In a separate interview on Fox News, Scalise accused Joe Biden, Trump's Democratic opponet, of not taking a firm stance on defunding police.
"Joe Biden is trying to play both ends of this and hide out in his bunker, and not directly address it while yet trying to embrace quietly the defund movement," Scalise said. "He ought to be very vocal about where he is on this."
Biden’s campaign, however, said Monday that the candidate opposes the defunding of police departments.
Other Democratic leaders are clashing with activists over the issue. During a House Democratic caucus conference call Monday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., asked his colleagues not to get pulled into the debate over defunding.
"I want to say to all the members: please don’t let yourselves get drawn into this debate about defunding police forces," he told them, according to a House Democratic aide. He also invoked civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who said as recently as last week for everyone to keep "our eyes on the prize."
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., skirted the issue in an interview Monday on MSNBC, saying that police funding is "a local matter" and that her focus is to "change policy to make our policing more just."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told members during their caucus call Monday that he intends to hold a hearing Wednesday on the far-reaching police accountability legislation unveiled by House and Senate Democrats Monday, according to an official readout. House Democrats plan to then mark up the bill next week, he said.