U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is vowing to defund portions of the Department of Defense budget if necessary to prevent President Trump from using military troops to police people taking part in nationwide protests against police brutality.

Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said in a media conference call on Tuesday that language against the use of troops as police could be inserted into the annual National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that funds the DOD. He said the bill is expected to be taken up next week.

“We could essentially defund activities like that and if you do, they don’t happen,” Kaine said. “I’m not going to stand for it. And I hope my other colleagues on the Armed Services Committee will speak out loud and clear that this is not what the United States military is for.”

Kaine, whose son is in the Marines, said he proudly supports the military, but was appalled by military troops on Monday firing flash bang grenades and teargas at lawfully assembled and peaceful protesters outside the White House. The action was taken to allow Trump to walk from the White House across Lafayette Square for a photo opportunity at the nearby St. John’s Church, which had briefly been set on fire by demonstrators on Sunday night.

The Posse Comitatus Act, an 1878 Reconstruction-era law written to keep federal troops from policing elections in former Confederate states, generally forbids the military from acting as a domestic police force. However, Trump has threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, a law signed by then-President Thomas Jefferson allowing federal troops to quell a rebellion. The law was last used in 1992 in response to riots in Los Angeles after four L.A.P.D. officers who beat driver Rodney King were acquitted by a jury.

Trump said on Monday that his administration is committed to getting justice for the family of George Floyd, the black man who died on May 25 after video showed white Minneapolis police officer Derek Michael Chauvin kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin was quickly fired and charged with third-degree murder, but frustration over Floyd’s death and numerous incidents of police brutality caught on video in recent years has fueled continued protests.

While saying he supported peaceful protesters, Trump said more force was needed to stop the violent ones.

“We cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob,” Trump said. “If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

But Kaine said Americans of all political persuasions should be “horrified” by what he said was the president using the military as his “palace guard” against peaceful protesters.

“We have a president who views peaceful protest as a threat and who’s willing to use federal law enforcement and now, apparently, the military. The federal military, he wants to turn them against Americans in an unprecedented way,” he said. “It’s just absolutely shocking.”

Before the call, Kaine held an online meeting with members of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition. Among the topics was the need for local and state governments to be able to spend federal coronavirus bailout money on budget shortfalls.

The money comes from the the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that passed in March. Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and Kaine said they insisted the money only be used for COVID-19 expenses, not the huge budget shortfalls from the economic crash caused by the pandemic.

Frederick County received $7.8 million and Winchester received $2.5 million. But the money can only go for expenses like paying for personal protective equipment for employees or installing plexiglass at municipal offices to prevent the spread of the virus. COVID-19 had killed nearly 106,000 Americans including 1,407 Virginians through Tuesday morning.

Kaine said Democrats are negotiating with Republicans to allow for the money to be retroactively spent on shortfalls to prevent layoffs of local and state government workers. And he’s hopeful that the Heroes Act — a $3 trillion relief bill that passed in the Democratic-majority House of Representatives on May 15, but is stalled in the Senate — will include bailout money for local governments. He said some Republican senators don’t want to see their constituents laid off. Layoffs would include emergency responders and health care workers.

“If you do not allow for the backstopping of lost revenue, you’re going to be laying off precisely the wrong people to layoff during a pandemic,” Kaine said. “I believe we’re going to get to a bill during this month that will work out with the White House and the House that will have additional money for state and local governments.”

Coalition members said overdoses have spiked during the pandemic. They said the primary reasons were the Great Depression-like unemployment, a lack of housing and the inability to hold in-person Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. They also said $1,200 stimulus checks were sometimes spent on drugs.

Kaine said while the checks were needed, future money should be more specifically targeted, such as for food or rental assistance or money for businesses that have lost 50% of their revenue. Kaine said he and his wife were infected with mild cases of COVID-19 in April and he was grateful for the resources they had to help them recuperate.

He said he understands that many Americans lack those resources, particularly black and Latino people who have had a disproportionate percentage of infections and job loses. He said the Floyd death has added to their pain.

“What we need are leaders in the country who are willing to listen and are willing to empathize and after listening and empathizing, taking real steps to bring us together and find solutions,” Kaine said. “Sadly, what we’re seeing from the White House is somebody who is not interested in unifying anybody, but is trying to divide us.”

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(23) comments

Spock Here

It appears our (probably soon-to-be "former") Defense Secretary is also a "weasel"??

"Live updates: Pentagon chief breaks from Trump over use of active-duty military forces to quell unrest" rut roh

daisydog505

Cannot believe how he can say peaceful protests, when it is clear that there was severe looting, property damage, assault, and even murder in some cases.

Bryan.the.Nuri

That's all you saw, huh?

Bernie Mac

Did he say that was all he saw? No! So, why did you imply that he did? Why are you so disingenuous? Cousin to dishonest.

Spock Here

Wow. people so outraged at Kaine the "weasel" and all those hypocrite leftists, while ignoring the point of the article.? Using the military domestically? Maybe youse guys should worry about that.

Mr Incredible

It is concerning, but if the democrat governors won't do their jobs andkeep their people safe, maybe it's time an adult did the job

Spock Here

I'll agree we need an adult. Maybe Gen Mattis. Oh, nice try at playing "it's only the democrat governors" but republicans don't want the military either.

captain

If you obey the orders a Police Officer gives you, you will not get hurt. Pretty simple. Think about it. 99.9% of the time they have ask or told the person to do a certain thing like in the protest (curfew, get off the streets, don't loot don't burn down things....)The people that moved on did not get hurt. YES I know there are some BAD Police Officers. Just like there are some BAD people. So if everyone listened Trump would not need to bring in the Army. Everyone Stay Safe.

Anna Thomson

you must be watching Russian news. Millions of us are watching police violently attack and beat peaceful protesters....and new media folks reporting live on camera. Get your nose out of the Fox News propaganda machine.

Steve Cunningham

You must be watching Chinese news. Peaceful protesters are being allowed plenty of room for their First Amendment rights. The police are only having to use tactics to clear the violent property damaging looters out of the areas that they are terrorizing.

Spock Here

Oh, Steven, you mean those largely peaceful protestors and clergy cleared with tear gas and rubber bullets so your guy could stroll over to a church he's never been to just to hold up a book he obviously never read...

ShruggingAtlas

You are FAKE NEWS! https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/matt-margolis/2020/06/03/no-peaceful-protesters-were-not-tear-gassed-so-trump-could-do-a-photo-op-n486747

Ali

Atlas, did you even read what you posted with that link? The article is a bait and switch, pure and simple. Read it. It admits they used smoke canisters and pepper balls to clear out protestors. PJ Media is hardly a pristine source, but even if you read it, it doesn't say what you want it to (nor, apparently, what they try to make it mean despite the above admission).

Doc Samson

Ali - Of course, being a Leftist, you are doing the exact thing you accuse the article of doing. 1. The protest was not "peaceful", 2. They weren't cleared out specifically because of Trump. They were specifically responding to the crowd violence. 3. Your media deliberately misreported those facts, didn't they? And you complain about the lack of intellect in others? #neverletfactsdestroymuhnarrative [rolleyes]

Conservative

The only reason the protesters were cleared out was because the POTUS was entering the area. Secret Service would have done that for ANY POTUS, regardless of their political leanings. Quit being such a bunch of whining pansies. If the POTUS is going somewhere, Secret Service clears a path ahead of the POTUS, plain and simple. Get over your self righteousness.

Bernie Mac

Kaine is a weasel.

Conservative

But he's Clinton's weasel, so be careful what you say about him. They might not like it.[whistling]

Bernie Mac

I might get suicided.

Ali

He doesn't care what you think, Bernie. Moscow isn't in Kaine's state. Just joking. It would be an insult to the Russian intelligence apparatus to say that they couldn't do any better than you do.

Mr Incredible

One of the most worthless losers in the Senate has little room to talk about law enforcement, when his own son was arrested after showing his tail at a Trump rally. Apple didn't fall far from the progressive tree on that one. Nor does he have much room to talk when democrat governors refuse to put their feet down on looters and arsonist, like our own Lord Northum. Notham declared an emergency a week before the gun rally in Richmond earlier this year, but let rioters run rampant for three days before declaring an emergency in Va. If democrat governors won't protect life and property, it leave POTUS little choice.

Doc Samson

@Mr Incredible - What you call a "gun rally", the Left calls crazy, NRA-addled, trigger happy, racist idiots. The result? Tens of thousands gathered peacefully in protest, even... a few minorities who weren't harmed in the least. No rioting or looting and left the place about as clean as when they found it. Forward to now and the excuses for outright destruction are pouring out of their mouths faster than vomit after a night of binge drinking. Repulsive.

Bernie Mac

Thanks for that visual.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Amazing how the "law and order" President wants to break the law to enforce the law...

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