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Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) recently proposed more than 500 federal budget cuts, a few of which would decimate funding to local public safety and justice infrastructure, including the Public Defender Service and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.
Since learning about the proposals, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and others have spoken out against what’s seen as yet another GOP-orchestrated attack on District residents.
Norton told The Informer that the cuts proposed by Biggs would also limit the District’s public safety agencies’ ability to counter security threats. However, as a nonvoting member in the House’s minority party, she admitted that stopping the legislation will be an uphill battle.
“The Republicans are going to keep doing this type of thing to the District until we get statehood,” Norton said. “I’m relying on them having a shallow majority [that gives them] trouble getting through, but I’m also depending on the Senate where we have the majority.”
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, also known as CSOSA, didn’t return an inquiry about the functions of the office that depend on federal funds. Nor did anyone respond to a request for a comment.
Many of the spending bills recently introduced by Biggs focus on aspects of public safety. For instance, H.R. 2091 limits spending on emergency planning security in the District, including but not limited to public safety at events, response to immediate terror threats, and support for Secret Service requests. Meanwhile, H.R. 2092 cuts funding for D.C. courts and the D.C. Court of Appeals. Biggs, a member and former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has also targeted the National Guard and judicial commissions.
Other bills sponsored by Biggs that are under consideration in the House’s Committee on Oversight and Accountability limit the funds for D.C. and federal payment of residents’ tuition support, slash federal allocations for the testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and limit federal allocations for school improvement,
Upon introducing these bills in late March, Biggs released a statement saying that he and other House Freedom Caucus members wanted to avoid raising the debt ceiling. The bills accrued nearly $100 billion in savings for fiscal year 2024, and $1 trillion over the course of a decade, Biggs said. This move followed calls among Biggs and others to rescind unspent COVID-19 relief funds, stop Green New Deal Projects, and stop efforts to forgive student loans.
These proposed federal budget cuts come at a time when the GOP-dominated House continues to push through a disapproval resolution that strikes down local police accountability legislation. House Republicans recently did so with the support of 14 House Democrats.
During the latter part of March, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability conducted a hearing that featured Mendelson, D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and D.C. Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton as witnesses. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) is scheduled to attend a May 16 hearing.
Earlier this year, another disapproval resolution dismantled the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA), which unanimously passed through the D.C. Council and survived D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto with a 12-1 vote. Before the disapproval resolution’s successful passage, Mendelssohn attempted to rescind the RCCA, all to no avail.
On April 18, Mendelson weighed in on Biggs’ federal spending cuts, saying that they negate concerns that GOP members have expressed about public safety in D.C., all while showing that Republicans want to score political points on the backs of D.C. residents.
“Don’t scold the District for being soft on crime and then hamstring the police,” Mendelson said. “When we testified on the Hill last month, Council member Allen and I made the point repeatedly that if the House Republicans truly care about public safety, they need to get more resources to the justice system, not less.”