The Donalds Dossier commentary: Rhetoric, reality and law enforcement

Rep. Byron Donalds addresses the US House on the occasion of National Police Week. (Image: C-Span)

May 21, 2021 by David Silverberg

Two recent votes by Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) belie his purported support for the nation’s law enforcement officers.

Donalds voted against both creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 and against supplemental appropriations to improve Capitol security.

On May 12, Donalds joined other members of Congress to acknowledge National Police Week and honor the men and women of law enforcement.

Recalling a time when he was robbed at gunpoint at the age of 16 and the police responded to his call, Donalds made a 2-minute, 19-second floor speech acknowledging the importance of their role in society.

“The police are the ones in our communities. They patrol the streets. They try to keep our neighborhoods safe. They are the ones who put their lives on the line every single day, who may not go home. They are the ones who are the pillars of every community in our great country,” he said.

“So on National Police Week, the number one thing we need to learn not just on this specific week, but in every week, is that we need to show them the necessary honor and respect that they deserve.”

Donalds then had the opportunity to demonstrate that honor and respect with two subsequent votes.

The first was a vote to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, an attack by what Donalds called at the time “lawless vigilantes” engaged in “thuggery.” He later characterized the rioters as “a bunch of lunatics.”

While some Republican members of Congress downplayed the severity of the attack, an anonymous letter by Capitol Police officers was sent to House members stating that “It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect, would downplay the events of January 6th. Member safety was dependent upon the heroic actions of USCP [US Capitol Police]. It is a privileged assumption for Members to have the point of view that ‘It wasn’t that bad,’” the letter stated. “That privilege exists because the brave men and women of the USCP protected you, the Members.”

Though allegedly supported by 40 members of the Capitol Police, their support could not be independently verified. The Capitol Police disavowed the letter as an official communication.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday, May 19, the House voted by 252 to 175 to establish the commission.

Donalds, however, voted against the bill. (Also voting against it were Southwest Florida’s two other representatives, Reps. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.).

Yesterday, May 20, Donalds had another opportunity to show his support for law enforcement by voting for a $1.9 billion bill to improve security around the Capitol. The vote on that was 213 to 212.

Donalds voted against that bill too, along with the rest of the Southwest Florida delegation.

Commentary: Putting the money where your mouth is

“Mr. Speaker,” Donalds said in his May 12 floor statement, “we have all seen the videos that get thrown in front of us. We have seen the handful of acts that all Americans find distasteful”—his reference, apparently, to the wholesale assault on the Capitol in which he was speaking and the attempt to kill the lawmakers inside and lynch the Vice President of the United States.

He continued: “But the uniform, that badge, the officers that serve every day, they serve our communities with honor and with distinction. So it is really my pleasure and my honor to honor all those officers, including the ones in this very Capitol, who protect us every single day.”

Apparently Donalds’ rhetorical support did not extend enough to honor them by investigating the past attack upon them and giving them the resources and funding they need to prevent a similar attack again.

Nonetheless, the men and women of law enforcement continue protect Donalds, his fellow lawmakers and the public in general from the “thugs” and “lunatics”—Donalds’ terms—who remain at large.

Both bills have now gone to the Senate where they face uncertain futures.

Liberty lives in light

©2021 by David Silverberg

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