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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) released on Tuesday a series of government funding recommendations that he says will hold the Biden administration “accountable” and protect civil liberties.
The wishlist of reforms came in the form of a letter to House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) as spending bills for the various government agencies make their way through Congress ahead of the September 30 deadline, which is the end of the fiscal year. Republicans have a slim majority in the House, meaning leadership can only afford to lose a couple of GOP votes without support from the Democrats to pass legislation, and they also have to contend with a Democrat-led Senate and President Joe Biden to avert a shutdown.
Bemoaning a surge in southern border encounters and release of migrants into the United States, Jordan said the judiciary panel “recommends prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to implement the Biden Administration’s radical immigration policies.”
Jordan took aim at the FBI, which Republicans have accused of politicization, calling for appropriations bills to cut funding “that is not absolutely essential for the agency to execute its mission.” As a starting point, Jordan suggested “eliminating taxpayer funding for any new FBI headquarter facility and instead examining options for relocating the FBI’s headquarters outside of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.” He suggested Alabama as an alternate location.
The chairman also said the committee recommends “tying funding for the FBI to specific policy changes — such as requiring the FBI to record interviews — that will promote accountability and transparency at the FBI.”
Another request is to have the Department of Justice (DOJ) appropriations bill contain language “prohibiting retaliation against FBI whistleblowers,” including prohibiting taxpayer dollars from going toward the salary of any official found to have retaliated against a whistleblower.
In order to protect free speech online, Jordan said the judiciary panel as well as his “Weaponization of the Federal Government” subcommittee want appropriations bills that explicitly block taxpayer funds from being used for censorship and to classify speech as “so-called ‘mis-, dis-, or mal-information.'” In addition, there is a request to “eliminate taxpayer dollars” going to the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and “other governmental and non-governmental entities” that Jordan said are “engaged in speech suppression.”
The final request made by Jordan focused on the Second Amendment: “The Committee is also examining the Biden Administration’s attacks on fundamental Second Amendment rights at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). In two recent regulatory actions, the ATF has circumvented the will of Congress and flouted the Second Amendment. Accordingly, we recommend prohibiting taxpayer funds from being used to implement ATF radical regulations concerning pistol braces or so-called ‘ghost guns.'”
The chairman closed out his letter with what he called an “initial list of suggested priorities” for fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills, including a bid to stymie money used to “implement a policy that discourages United States Marshals Service employees or personnel from fully enforcing 18 U.S.C. § 1507,” a section of U.S. Code meant to prohibit the intimidation of judges, jurors, court officers, and witnesses by protesters. In addition, Jordan proposed stopping any funds for “politically sensitive” investigations until the Department of Justice establishes a policy requiring non-partisan career staff to oversee them.
The FBI shared a statement with CNN that said, in part, any reductions to the agency’s budget would be “detrimental to the support the FBI provides to the American people.”
The chairman said Congress can use the “power of the purse” to “ensure that the federal agencies are working for the people of this country — not weaponized against them.” Jordan also said, “These proposals are just a beginning. As the 118th Congress progresses, the Committee and Select Subcommittee will continue to conduct oversight to inform legislative proposals that will uphold fundamental freedoms and secure American liberties.”