EASTON — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, is faulting President Joe Biden for not specifically opposing defunding the police proposals during his speech before Congress on Wednesday.
Harris — who represents the Eastern Shore and is a backer of former President Donald Trump — referenced the death of a police officer in Delmar in his criticism of Biden.
Biden has opposed progressive calls to cut police funding but backs federal police reform legislation that would allow for more federal investigations into local police departments.
Delmar Police Cpl. Keith Heacook died after being assaulted Sunday. Randon Wilkerson, 30, faces murder and assault charges in the officer’s death.
Harris wanted to see Biden specifically announce his opposition to cuts in police funding during his speech in Washington.
“Corporal Heacook, a dedicated Delmar police officer, died today. Too bad the President didn’t reject defunding the police tonight, and condemn the violence that’s occurring on America’s streets against our brave men and women in blue,” Harris said in a social media statement.
Some Democrats criticized Harris for referencing Heacook’s death in response to Biden’s speech.
Maryland Democrats also liked Biden’s speech which encouraged Americans to get COVID vaccinations and advocated for gun control, tax hikes on the rich and big corporations as well as voting rights and immigration reforms.
Heather Mizeur, a Democratic state lawmaker looking to unseat Harris in 2022 and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., backed Biden’s speech including his work on the COVID pandemic and proposed infrastructure investments.
“In addition to these two major initiatives, there are other challenges we must take on – from protecting the right to vote, to ensuring racial and social justice, to taking meaningful action to stop the gun violence epidemic, to implementing compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, and much more. Each challenge is as urgent and pressing as the next,” Van Hollen said.
Democrats hope their control of Congress and the White House will help them pass Biden’s agenda. Some progressives have called for cuts to or shifting of police budgets in response to fatal shootings and the need for social, mental health and economic services in some communities.