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. 

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-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (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 Obama even alluded to the issue in a Thursday eulogy for Rep. John Lewis (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.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Barack Obama John Lewis Mark Pocan
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