House blocks cut to Drug Enforcement Administration

The House on Thursday rejected a proposal to reduce funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), defeated 66-339, would have reduced the DEA's funding by $35 million in the 2015 Commerce-Justice-science appropriations bill.

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Polis, whose state has legalized marijuana, argued the DEA did not need more funding than it was receiveing at current levels.

"The DEA doesn't have a growing enforcement workload, except in their own minds," Polis said. "We don't need to increase our deficit to fund misguided priorities."

But Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, said that the DEA needed the funding to serve its enforcement mission, and accused Polis of undervaluing the work of DEA agents.

"You kind of just blew off the DEA agents," Wolf said. "The DEA is striving to cope with significant challenges."

"A number of DEA agents have risked their lives for us here," Wolf said, later reading aloud the names of several deceased DEA agents.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said that Polis's concerns for Colorado did not necessarily apply nationwide.

"I think that the gentleman is really concerned about the underlying questions about his home state. I agree with him there that the state has made a different decision and that there should not be unnecessary harassment," Fattah said.

"It does not mean, however, we think every illegal narcotic the world should be available without penalty or punishment for every single person who might desire it," Fattah said.