House GOP Advances Major Reductions in Federal Law Enforcement

U.S. Capitol Building. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

House Republicans seeking to punish federal law enforcement advanced legislation aimed at significantly reducing funding for the Justice Department and U.S. attorneys’ offices nationwide. 

The spending plan was approved along party lines by a subcommittee of the House Appropriation Committee as the GOP continues to claim the federal departments have been weaponized against conservatives, particularly former President Trump, The Washington Post reports

The legislation proposes a 20% cut in funding for salaries and other expenses at the Justice Department, and an 11% reduction for U.S. attorneys’ offices.

The spending plan coincides with the Justice Department prosecuting two federal cases against Trump, the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election. These cases involve his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his retention of classified materials.

Republicans made a similar effort last year, but it was eventually discarded in bipartisan negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House.

The current policies being advanced are also unlikely to succeed. However, with a September funding deadline and the November elections approaching, House GOP leaders are once again filling the spending bills with hard-right measures to appeal to their ultraconservative base and appease the most conservative members of their party.

In the coming days, as lawmakers consider spending bills for the Pentagon, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security, Republicans plan to force votes on several proposals. These include reducing the salaries of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to $1, eliminating pay for Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reducing funding for Mayorkas’s office by $10 million, and prohibiting U.S. funding for Ukraine, including the use of taxpayer money for arms sales to Kyiv.

The spending bill for the Justice Department and FBI has become a major point of contention in the House. Conservatives are determined to defund agencies they believe are biased against them and their supporters.

House Speaker Mike Johnson also admonished special counsel’s role in the investigation of Trump. 

“We can’t have special counsels engaged in political vendettas, either,” Johnson said. “And that’s what a lot of people see right now. We haven’t yet come to a consensus on what that remedy looks like. But we’re actively discussing it.”

Every House Democrat is opposed to the legislation, saying Republicans are trying to undermine law enforcement efforts at a time when they are complaining about crime. 

“It would greatly reduce the number of F.B.I. special agents and analysts, and these are outstanding public servants who keep us safe by preventing and investigating everything from human and narcotics trafficking to public corruption to kidnappings, mass attacks, cybercrimes and much more,” Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penns, said.

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