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Some Republicans push to ‘defund the FBI’ at an unfortunate time

To borrow a phrase from the GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee, when Republicans say they want to defund federal law enforcement, believe them.


As part of their debt ceiling crisis, the Republicans approved a ransom note demanding drastic cuts to domestic priorities. For the Biden White House, this created an opportunity to explain to the public how these cuts would affect much of Americans’ public lives — including law enforcement.

Indeed, just last week, Andrew Bates, the White House’s deputy press secretary, released a lengthy memo making the case that if the GOP’s agenda were implemented, it would mean cutting “thousands of agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, and the Border Patrol.” The memo added that Republicans are “threatening millions of jobs, small businesses, and retirement accounts unless they can cripple the law enforcement agencies the entire country is depending on.”

Feeling a bit defensive, House Republicans have scheduled a series of votes this week intended to show the GOP’s support for law enforcement — designed to coincide with National Police Week. Yesterday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee published a tweet that read in part, “When Democrats say they want to defund the police, believe them. [House GOP members] will always back the blue.”

As it turns out, “always” might not have been the best choice of words.

A few hours before that tweet was published, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona reiterated his belief that Congress should “defund and dismantle the FBI.”

Around the same time, Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee appeared on Fox Business and voiced a related position:

“The Congress is this country’s checkbook, and we can start cutting funds to the FBI. You know, they’ve bungled so many cases as of late and they continue to do so. ... It’s this top level of arrogance [at the FBI] that we’ve seen, and it is the swamp. It does exist. And that’s what we’ll have to do, we’ll have to start cutting their checkbook a little bit just to get them to the table, if that’s what it takes. And I’m for that because they’ve just not done their duty.”

This is not an uncommon sentiment in GOP politics. Last summer, for example, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, for example, became a leading proponent of “defunding” the FBI. In March, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida also told a far-right audience, “We either get this government back on our side or we defund and get rid of, abolish the FBI, the CDC, ATF, DOJ, every last one of them if they do not come to heel.”

As for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee — the aforementioned folks who tried to go on the offensive yesterday — Rep. Jim Jordan, the panel’s current chairman, recently told Fox News, “We control the power of the purse, and that’s, we’re gonna have to look at the appropriations process and limit funds going to some of these agencies, particularly the ones who are engaging in the most egregious behavior.”

When the host asked if he was referring to the FBI and the Department of Justice, the Ohio congressman said he was.

What’s more, Donald Trump himself declared last month, “Republicans in Congress should defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses.”

To borrow a phrase from the GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee, when Republicans say they want to defund federal law enforcement, believe them.

Update: Just this morning, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah appeared on Fox Business and said there's "a growing number" of GOP members who believe it's "time to disband the FBI."