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House approves amendments to rein in federal forces in cities

House approves amendments to rein in federal forces in cities
© Greg Nash

In a rebuke to the Trump administration, the House on Thursday approved a series of amendments to funding bills that would rein in federal forces. 

Democrats have been highly critical of the use of federal law enforcement to quell protests in liberal havens, raising concerns over brutality and officers without identification being deployed over the objections of local leaders. 

One amendment would ban funding for Operation Legend and Operation Relentless Pursuit, the names of the Justice Department operations that sent federal agents into the cities to begin with. 

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Another would prohibit the Justice Department from acquiring tear gas, while a third would block the acquisition of "chemical weapons for law enforcement purposes." 

The amendments, whose sponsors featured a who's who of high profile progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere Trump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanCapitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election MORE (D-Wis.), passed by voice vote in a wide-ranging block of amendments to a package of six spending bills for 2021.

The spending package, which includes the bill that funds the Justice Department, is expected to pass along party lines in a Friday vote.

But the various provisions and amendments in the bill are unlikely to become law. The GOP-controlled Senate, which has yet to introduce any spending bills for the new fiscal year, would likely insist on stripping many of the more left-leaning provisions from the legislation.

For Democrats, the amendments were an opportunity to highlight an issue that has roiled many of their base voters.

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMullen: 'National security issues do not wait' for presidential transitions Is Trump headed to another campaign or to a courtroom? With the Chang'e 5 launch, China takes a giant leap forward in the race to the moon MORE even alluded to the issue in a Thursday eulogy for Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Biden must look to executive action to fulfill vow to Black Americans MORE (D-Ga.), who passed away earlier this month. Obama framed it as an ongoing injustice to be fought, comparing it to the "darker currents of this country’s history."

"George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators," he said.