ICYMI: MAGA House GOP Plot to Defund Law Enforcement
May 5, 2023
MAGA House Republicans are conspiring to gut funding for federal law enforcement. New reporting from CNN details how eager the House GOP is to carry water for Donald Trump, following his calls to defund the FBI and Department of Justice.
Key Point: In January, an effort to pass a resolution expressing support for law enforcement agencies, which was meant to serve as a messaging tool, fell apart. The House GOP’s behind-the-scenes disagreements reflect growing divisions inside the conference over whether to defund or restrict the Department of Justice and FBI. The contentious political issue is returning to center stage as CNN has learned that some House Republicans are actively sketching out ways to limit certain federal law enforcement programs through the appropriations process.
CNN: House Republicans grapple with cutting DOJ and FBI funding amid growing internal divisions and outside pressure
By Annie Grayer
- House Republican leadership came into power on a pro-police, tough-on-crime message. Four months later, that position is in limbo.
- The internal differences emerged soon after Republicans took control of the House. In January, an effort to pass a resolution expressing support for law enforcement agencies, which was meant to serve as a messaging tool, fell apart. The House GOP’s behind-the-scenes disagreements reflect growing divisions inside the conference over whether to defund or restrict the Department of Justice and FBI. The contentious political issue is returning to center stage as CNN has learned that some House Republicans are actively sketching out ways to limit certain federal law enforcement programs through the appropriations process.
- Conversations with more than a dozen lawmakers since the January dust up reveal that a growing number of House Republicans are proposing ways to act on calls made by former President Donald Trump to crack down on federal law enforcement. Support started building after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI in August 2022, as part of an investigation into the handling of presidential documents, including classified documents. And that support to act on the calls was super-charged by Trump’s indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney at the end of March.
- This comes as Jordan and the “weaponization” subcommittee he leads have waged a protracted campaign against the DOJ and FBI, and as House Judiciary Republicans are considering recommending various budget cuts to DOJ through the Appropriations process, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.
- One of the cuts House Judiciary Republicans are exploring, which could be proposed as its own legislation or part of a broader House spending package, includes restricting funding to specific DOJ departments that refuse to respond to oversight requests, a source familiar with the discussions tells CNN.
- Other proposals include reigning in the ability for DOJ to give out grants, and clawing back civil asset forfeiture funds obtained through a program that allows the federal government to coordinate with state and local officials to seize cash, drugs, guns and other assets from suspects before they have been convicted of a crime, the source added.
- CNN has also obtained multiple letters sent by House Republicans to the House Committee on Appropriations that outline specific cuts that could be made to DOJ.
- Some lawmakers on the far right such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona, have carried Trump’s mantel in calling for a full defund of the FBI.
- GOP Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who floated the idea of defunding the FBI and DOJ at the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, told CNN, “I would suggest that we look internally at a line item by line-item basis in those two areas, DOJ and FBI, and make them justify everything. Start it out at a 0 basis.”
- While Jordan said he wanted to support rank-and-file agents at the FBI, he said vaguely “everything should be on the table” when asked what parts of federal law enforcement need to be cut and referenced a since withdrawn memo from an FBI field office focusing on extremism in the Catholic Church as an example of the kind of actions he believes need to change. Jordan has often argued, without much specificity, the best way to hold DOJ and FBI accountable is through “the power of the purse.”
- Roy was also one of 12 Republicans to send a letter, obtained by CNN, to the Committee on Appropriations in March requesting Congress “prohibit funding” for DOJ to enforce the FACE Act, which protects individuals obtaining an abortion as well as religious freedom.
- Twenty-eight House Republicans sent a separate March letter to the Appropriations subpanel that oversees DOJ funding, which was reviewed by CNN, calling for appropriators to prohibit the federal government from taking “any discriminatory action” against an individual who has the “sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.”
- Another effort led by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana to defund “woke programs” and initiatives across the federal government has included letters to each of the 12 House Appropriations subcommittees in March, and calls for no more funding to certain programs within DOJ that target diversity, equity, inclusion and climate.
- Multiple Republicans told CNN that they are looking to Jordan’s “weaponization” subcommittee to outline cuts for the Committee on Appropriations to carry out.
- Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida said the “weaponization” subcommittee must “identify and isolate” what types of cuts to the DOJ and FBI need to be made for GOP appropriators to then “take a scalpel and cut them out.”
- Another weaponization committee member, Rep. Dan Bishop, acknowledged to CNN that details of what should be defunded, restructured or decentralized still need to be worked out. But the North Carolina Republican said he intends to see reforms take effect “if I do nothing else in Congress.”