House Republicans Advance Bill to Cut FBI Funding by $1 Billion, Citing Over-Politicization
House Republicans have recently passed a funding bill that would slash $1 billion from the budget of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and address concerns over the alleged over-politicization of the agency. In a strictly party-line vote, a House Appropriations subcommittee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill for 2024. The legislation aims to bring overall funding levels back to those seen in 2022, rather than 2023 as initially proposed. The bill includes a significant 9% cut in funding for the FBI, with a focus on reducing discretionary funding for salaries and expenses.
House Republicans Seek to Curtail FBI and Address Politicization Concerns
Legislation Proposes $1 Billion Cut and Spending Restrictions
The bill not only reduces FBI funding but also imposes new spending limitations on the agency. Republicans have raised concerns about the FBI’s failure to pursue charges against Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, while aggressively prosecuting individuals on the conservative side of the political spectrum. To address these issues, the bill includes provisions such as:
1. Non-partisan Oversight: The bill prohibits the FBI from conducting politically sensitive investigations until the Department of Justice establishes a policy that allows non-partisan staff to oversee such probes.
2. Protection for Whistleblowers: It prevents the FBI from paying the salary of any employee who retaliates against a whistleblower, suppresses an employee’s freedom of speech, or fails to comply with a congressional subpoena.
3. Communication and Free Speech: The legislation prohibits the FBI from classifying any communication as “misinformation” or censoring lawful speech, aiming to safeguard individuals’ constitutional rights.
4. New Headquarters Building: The bill prevents the FBI from using any current funding to develop a new headquarters building.
Opposition Claims Bill Undermines Law Enforcement and Future Development
House Democrats have criticized the bill, accusing Republicans of contradicting their goal of supporting law enforcement. Democrats argue that the proposed legislation defunds crucial programs and jeopardizes job creation. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., expressed concerns that the bill takes away funding from law enforcement, science, and rural development. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, added that Republicans have chosen to defund law enforcement, science, and rural development in their pursuit of austerity.
Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., acknowledged that the bill is “austere.” Republicans argue that it is essential to right-size agencies and programs within the federal government. The GOP claims that their summary of the bill emphasizes the importance of starting the process of streamlining the government, promoting fiscal responsibility, and addressing concerns of politicization within the FBI.
Overall Budget Cuts and Highlights of the Funding Bill
Achieving Savings Across Multiple Agencies
The bill appropriates $58.4 billion for programs under the jurisdiction of the committee, reflecting a $23.8 billion reduction compared to the current fiscal year. It eliminates 14 “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs within covered agencies and cuts spending on climate change initiatives deemed wasteful. Additionally, the bill saves over $50 million by discontinuing the Biden administration’s plan to replace auto fleets at the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice with electric vehicles.
According to the GOP summary, the Commerce Department faces a $1.4 billion cut in discretionary funding, while the Department of Justice would see a $2 billion cut. Federal science agencies would collectively face a $1.1 billion reduction under this bill.
House Republicans have taken action to reduce funding for the FBI as part of a broader effort to address concerns over politicization within the agency. The proposed legislation has attracted criticism from Democrats who argue that it defunds essential programs and undermines law enforcement. As the funding bill progresses through the House, its long-term impact on the FBI’s operations and potential consequences for the agency’s ability to perform its duties effectively remain to be seen.