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-CortezConservative group files ethics complaint over Ocasio-Cortez appearance at Met Gala If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanBiden seeks to build Democratic support among unions Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — A warning shot on Biden's .5T plan Overnight Defense & National Security — America's longest war ends 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 ObamaFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees MORE even alluded to the issue in a Thursday eulogy for Rep. John LewisJohn LewisBudowsky: High stakes drama for Biden, Manchin, Sinema Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise Senate Democrats unveil new voting rights bill 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.