House Republicans on Friday advanced legislation that would cut FBI funding by $1 billion and rein in what the GOP says is the over-politicization of the bureau.
In a party-line vote, a House Appropriations subcommittee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies funding bill for 2024. The legislation goes further than the spending deal reached by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and President Biden by steering overall funding levels to those seen in 2022 rather than 2023.
For the FBI, that means a significant 9% cut in funding. The bill chops discretionary funding for the bureau from $11.3 billion in the current fiscal year to $10.3 billion.
The big chunk of that cut is a $400 million reduction to FBI salaries and expenses. But the bill also imposes new spending limitations on the bureau, which has been a focus of complaints from Republicans who say the FBI has failed to pursue charges against Hunter Biden while it has aggressively worked to prosecute conservatives.
Among other things, the bill 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 bill prevents the FBI from paying the salary of any employee who retaliates against a whistleblower, thwarts an employee’s First Amendment rights to free speech or fails to comply with a congressional subpoena. It also prohibits the FBI from classifying any communication as “misinformation” or censor lawful speech.
Additionally, it prevents the FBI from using any current funding to develop a new headquarters building.
During Friday’s subcommittee work, Democrats accused Republicans of going against their stated goal of supporting law enforcement.
“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 Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., 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.
Overall, the bill appropriates $58.4 billion for programs under the jurisdiction of the committee, a $23.8 billion cut compared to the current fiscal year. It eliminates 14 “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs in the covered agencies, cuts spending on “wasteful” climate change programs, and saves more than $50 million by ending the Biden administration’s plan to replace auto fleets at the Department of Commerce and Department of Justice with electric vehicles.
According to the GOP summary, the Commerce Department would see a $1.4 billion cut in discretionary funding, and the Department of Justice would see a $2 billion cut. Federal science agencies together would face a $1.1 billion cut under the bill.