Republican Efforts to Defund Federal Law Enforcement

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“Defund the FBI.” Who said it? Former President Trump? Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene? Congresswoman Lauren Boebert? Try all of the above. Republicans seem to be embracing the very thing they accuse Democrats of doing: defunding the police.

In the 2022 midterms, Republicans spent nearly $50 million attacking Democrats on crime, accounting for 58% of their ad expenditures. They claim Dems are “soft on crime” and want to “defund the police” and let violent criminals roam our streets. But now Republicans, the purported party of “law and order,” have introduced a debt limit bill that would defund federal law enforcement. By contrast, Biden’s proposed budget makes historic investments in policing, public safety, and crime prevention. This begs the question—do Republicans actually care about law and order?

Republican Debt Limit Bill Defunds Law Enforcement

Speaker McCarthy has released debt limit legislation that would freeze Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 federal spending at FY 2022 levels. This would mean a 22% cut to non-defense discretionary spending, meaning a 22% cut to federal law enforcement funding.

The bill would gut $10 billion from federal law enforcement investments and result in the loss of 28,500 officers.

  • The FBI, which is responsible for investigating domestic and international terrorism, organized crime, and other federal crimes, would lose 11,000 agents, analysts, and staff.
  • The DEA, responsible for combatting drug trafficking, would lose 1,600 officers.
  • The ATF, responsible for investigating gun trafficking, would lose 500 officers. At a time when shootings are on the rise, we need to crack down on illegal guns, not cut back on our efforts.
  • The TSA, responsible for keeping our airports and transportation network safe, would lose 12,400 officers.
  • All of these agencies would see their budgets cut by billions of dollars, limiting their capacity to keep Americans safe.

And these cuts don’t just affect federal law enforcement. Local law enforcement agencies receive federal support through Byrne grants, which would decrease by an average of $30,000 per department if the bill were to pass. That means every local police department in the country would be hurt by this directly. Local law enforcement agencies also regularly collaborate with federal agencies to make their communities safer, whether it be from drugs, organized crime, or guns. Cuts to funding and personnel would negatively impact federal agencies’ capacity to help local law enforcement in each of those areas.

Biden’s Budget Combats Crime and Invests in Public Safety

Contrary to fearmongering and cuts pushed by Republicans, President Biden’s budget invests in federal law enforcement, public safety, and crime prevention. It allocates $17.8 billion for DOJ law enforcement, including but not limited to:

  • $2 billion for the ATF to expand efforts to combat gun trafficking and violence;
  • $1.9 billion for the US Marshals Service to support personnel dedicated to fighting violent crime;
  • $51 million for the FBI to implement enhanced background checks for firearm purchases; and,
  • Funding to put 100,000 additional police officers on our streets for accountable, community-oriented policing that keeps American communities safe.

Biden’s budget also invests in state and local law enforcement agencies. It provides $4.9 billion in resources for state and local grants to enhance public safety, as well as $19.4 billion and $5 billion over 10 years for crime prevention strategies and community violence interventions, respectively. Biden’s budget also makes historic investments in ending gender-based violence, allocating $1 billion to implement Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, a 43% increase from the previous year. Taken together, this funding would significantly improve public safety in cities, suburbs, and rural areas across the country.

A budget is a reflection of your values. Clearly, Republicans are sending the message that they don’t value public safety and law enforcement.


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