GOP’s Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Rule of Law: Implications for DOJ, FBI, and ATF

The GOP’s war on the FBI is paying off for Trump

House Speaker Mike Johnson, representing Louisiana, recently unveiled a proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024, which includes significant cuts to key agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

These cuts, amounting to 3%, 6%, and 7%, respectively, are raising concerns about the intentions of the Republican Party regarding institutions crucial to upholding the rule of law, the Constitution, and democracy.

The resemblance between Speaker Johnson’s rhetoric and the voice of former President Donald Trump’s influential figures is striking. The proposed budgetary reductions target agencies that have been demonized by Trump and his supporters. This move appears to be less about fiscal responsibility and more about seeking retribution and stifling the effectiveness of these institutions.

GOP's Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Rule of Law: Implications for DOJ, FBI, and ATF
GOP’s Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Rule of Law: Implications for DOJ, FBI, and ATF (Credits: Getty Images)

The DOJ is currently overseeing prosecutions related to the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. These prosecutions, which have resulted in convictions, undermine the GOP’s persistent claims of election fraud.

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to oversee investigations into Trump’s actions in Washington, D.C., and Florida further highlights why Trump’s allies in Congress seek to weaken the DOJ.

Similarly, the FBI is actively gathering evidence against individuals involved in the January 6 insurrection, whom Trump has referred to as “patriots.” The bureau’s efforts have led to convictions of prominent figures associated with extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Furthermore, substantial evidence gathered by the FBI has resulted in numerous federal charges against Trump himself.

The proposed 6% budget cut to the FBI, equivalent to $32 million, would severely impair the agency’s ability to fulfill its vital functions.

The FBI’s statement highlights concerns that such cuts would hinder efforts to counter terrorism, conduct firearm background checks, combat violent crime, address drug trafficking, gangs, and transnational organized crime, as well as tackle cyber intrusions and conduct counterintelligence activities, notably against threats from foreign entities like China.

Moreover, cuts would diminish the FBI’s capacity to investigate crimes involving children and human trafficking, leaving vulnerable populations at risk.

These budget reductions would also adversely affect the ATF, an agency already operating with limited resources. With only 2,600 agents, the ATF faces significant challenges in enforcing federal gun safety laws. The proposed cuts underscore a disregard for initiatives aimed at reducing illegal firearms and enhancing community safety.

Speaker Johnson’s justification for these cuts, alleging overreach by career professionals within these agencies, lacks substantive evidence. Instead, it appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to impede investigations into Trump and his supporters. Republican officials pushing for these cuts prioritize shielding Trump and his associates from scrutiny over upholding the rule of law and ensuring public safety.

In essence, these budgetary decisions reflect a troubling disregard for the fundamental principles of law enforcement and justice. By undermining agencies tasked with upholding the rule of law, Republicans in Congress not only jeopardize public safety but also undermine the integrity of democratic institutions.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.