House Moves Closer To A Vote On Legislation That Slashes FBI Funding By $1 Billion

 July 15, 2023

On Friday, House Republicans advanced legislation that would cut FBI funding by $1 billion and rein in what the GOP says is the over-politicization of the bureau. Effectively, the bill slashes discretionary funding for the bureau from $11.3 billion in the current fiscal year to $10.3 billion. That means a significant cut in spending of 9% for the FBI.

These cuts mean a $400 million reduction in FBI expenses and salaries, and bars the FBI from conducting any politically sensitive investigations until the Justice Department sets up a policy that lets non-partisan staff oversee these probes. The legislation also imposes new spending limitations on the bureau, which has been a focus of complaints from Republicans who claim the FBI has failed to pursue charges against Hunter Biden, while it has aggressively worked to prosecute conservatives.

The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies funding bill for 2024, was approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee along a party-line vote. The legislation reportedly goes further than the spending deal reached by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and President Biden. It does so, by steering overall funding levels to those seen in 2022 rather than 2023.

The bill effectively prevents the FBI from paying the salary of any employee who retaliates against a whistleblower, specifically, it:

  • Prevents the FBI from paying the salary of any employee who thwarts an employee’s First Amendment rights to free speech, or fails to comply with a congressional subpoena.
  • Prohibits the FBI from classifying any communication as "misinformation" or censor lawful speech.
  • Prevents the FBI from using any current funding to develop a new headquarters building.

Democrats accused Republicans of going against their stated goal of supporting law enforcement, complaining-

"This bill does defund law enforcement and takes funding away from programs that create good jobs," said Matt Cartwright, D-Pa. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, said Republicans have "opted to defund law enforcement, science and rural development."

-Subcommittee Democrats Matt Cartwright, D-Pa. and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn

Hal Rogers R-Ky, Subcommittee Chairman, agreed that the bill is "austere," but a GOP summary of the bill said it’s important to start "right-sizing agencies and programs" in the federal government. Reportedly, in the summary, under the bill, the Department of Justice would experience a $2 billion cut, the Commerce Department would see a $1.4 billion cut in discretionary funding, and Federal science agencies combined would experience a $1.1 billion cut.

Holding a line in these tax-payer funded organizations, who like to spend as if there was a blank check handed to them, all the while selectively leveling partisan scrutiny against conservatives, is a refreshing concept. Hopefully it will turn out to be more than an exercise in futility. Fiscal accountability is critical, and this country has seen little of it since Joe Biden took office.

“The American people expect more from Congress. They expect fiscal responsibility and common sense. They expect us to return to the pay-as-you-go budget rules that we had enacted in the past that helped us establish a surplus, however briefly…. But in Congress, accountability is just a catch phrase, usually directed elsewhere. Demands to personal responsibility or corporate accountability abound, but rarely congressional accountability or fiscal responsibility.”

-Melissa Bean
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