House GOP unveils DOJ funding bill after promising crackdown on 'weaponization'

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House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a bill to fund the departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as science agencies, for fiscal year 2025, legislation that is poised to be at the center of one of the most contentious spending battles this year.

Conservative Republicans in the lower chamber have zeroed in on the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill as a way to go after the Justice Department in the wake of former President Trump’s conviction in his Manhattan hush money trial, and as his three other prosecutions proceed.

“This bill prioritizes fiscal sanity and the liberties of the American people,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in a statement. “It halts the weaponization of the federal government against its citizens and enhances congressional oversight to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly. Investments support our brave men and women in blue, combat crime, and stop the deadly scourge of illicit drugs from reaching our communities. The legislation also safeguards U.S. innovation by confronting China’s efforts to target every aspect of American enterprise.”

The measure, to be sure, has little chance of becoming law, with Democrats in the Senate and White House sure to reject various funding cuts and policy riders included in the legislation. But House GOP leaders are aiming to put themselves in a better position for eventual negotiations with the Democratic-controlled upper chamber.

The CJS appropriations bill allocates $78.288 billion in discretionary spending, marking a roughly two percent cut — $1.275 billion — from fiscal year 2024 levels, according to Republicans on the appropriations committee. It also includes $71.932 billion in non-defense discretionary and $6.356 billion in defense discretionary.

The 160-page bill does not mention special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading investigations into Trump, or seek to limit the powers of a special counsel more broadly. Nor does it mention Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) who led the hush money prosecution in New York, or grant money disbursed to local and state offices.

But an Appropriations subcommittee is set to mark up the bill on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. eastern time, and lawmakers are expected to file a number of amendments. The House Rules Committee will determine which measures receive a vote on the floor.

The legislation does impose a sizable funding cut to the Justice Department: It allocates $36.532 billion for the department, which is $987.823 million — or three percent — below the fiscal year 2024 bill, and $3.056 billion less than President Biden’s budget request.

The measure also guts funding for the FBI. The agency, which has become a target of conservative lawmakers in recent years, would receive $10.306 billion under the newly released CJS bill, which is $367.713 million — 3.5 percent — below the fiscal year 2024 levels. The proposed allocation is also $1.028 billion — nine percent — less than Biden’s budget.

Additionally, the bill would prevent the FBI from developing a new headquarters in the National Capitol Region — which includes Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — “by limiting the use of existing construction balances to the sustainment” of the agency’s current headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, according to a summary of the bill.

A government funding package lawmakers passed and Biden signed earlier this year included $200 million to go towards the construction of a new FBI headquarters, angering hardline conservatives. Last year, the General Services Administration announced that the new FBI headquarters would be in Greenbelt, Maryland, following a bitter fight over the location between Maryland and Virginia lawmakers.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, slammed the GOP’s CJS funding bill, accusing them of chipping away at the justice system.

“Instead of joining Democrats in decreasing crime and helping Americans feel secure, House Republicans are eliminating law enforcement positions and cutting resources for programs that prevent violence, mass shootings, and terrorist attacks,” DeLauro said in a statement.

“By cutting federal law enforcement and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, they are making it harder to prosecute dangerous criminals while making it easier for big corporations and billionaires to take advantage of Americans,” she added. “This bill would hurt the economy by gutting programs that help create jobs, especially in rural communities.”

The funding cuts and language cracking down on the Justice Department comes after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) penned a letter to Cole asking that various “reforms” are included in the government funding process this year, including nixing funding for the FBI “that is not essential for the agency to execute its mission,” eliminating federal funding for “state prosecutors or state attorneys general involved in lawfare” and getting rid of federal funding for federal prosecutors taking part “in such abuse.”

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