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Garland condemns House GOP proposal to cut Justice Department funding by  billion

Garland condemns House GOP proposal to cut Justice Department funding by $1 billion

Garland condemns House GOP proposal to cut Justice Department funding by  billion

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday condemned a proposal by House Republicans to cut the Justice Department’s budget by nearly $1 billion for next year, saying such cuts would risk undermining progress on the reducing violent crime nationwide.

“This effort … is unacceptable,” Garland said at a news conference in Cleveland, where he traveled to commemorate the opening of a new intelligence center to help state and federal prosecutors combat gun violence.

Garland’s comments came hours after the House GOP unveiled a fiscal 2025 budget proposal that would set Justice funding at $36.5 billion, about $3 billion less than the amount it President Biden seeks. Some conservatives have pointed to cuts to the Justice Department as part of their opposition to criminal proceedings against former President Donald Trump.

Trump was convicted last month of 34 felonies in New York state for falsifying business records. He faces state charges in Georgia for election interference and federal charges in Washington for election interference and in Florida for unlawful retention of classified documents. Garland has appointed Jack Smith as special prosecutor to oversee the federal cases.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of his accusations. He and his Republican allies have tried to portray the prosecutions as politically motivated, accusing the Justice Department and Democrats of attacking the former president. Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential candidate who will face Biden in the November elections.

House Republicans voted this month to hold Garland in contempt over his refusal to turn over audio tapes of special counsel Robert K. Hur’s interview with Biden during an investigation last year into his handling of classified documents. by the president. Biden exercised executive privilege to protect the tapes after Garland said their public disclosure could hamper the Justice Department’s ability to conduct future investigations.

Garland has lashed out at what he says are baseless attacks and conspiracies by Republicans that have threatened to undermine the rule of law. “I will not be intimidated,” he said this month.

A House Appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the GOP budget proposal on Wednesday.

“This bill prioritizes fiscal sanity and the freedoms of the American people,” committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in a statement. “Stops the use of the federal government as a weapon against its citizens and enhances congressional oversight to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly.”

In Cleveland, Garland and Steve Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, praised progress in combating violent crime, which fell nationwide by 6 percent in 2023, according to data from the FBI. Murders, which had increased in many cities during and after the coronavirus pandemic, fell 13 percent last year, one of the steepest annual declines, officials said.

Dettelbach cited a $50 million cut to the ATF budget last year and said the new House Republican proposal “would impose even deeper cuts.”

Such budget reductions would mean “the inability to open other centers like this,” Dettelbach said of the intelligence center, which aims to use federal technology and tracking systems to conduct investigations into gun crimes in the Northeast region. Ohio.

“It will threaten the closure of facilities like this,” he said, “and it will mean leaving our communities less protected and therefore less safe.”