California AG seeks more money to fight Trump

California AG seeks more money to fight Trump
© Getty Images

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraSecond federal judge blocks Trump from using military funds for border wall California recovers M from auto parts makers' in bid rigging settlement Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings MORE (D) told state legislators on Thursday that his office’s effort to fight the Trump administration is straining an already-stretched budget.

In testimony before a state Senate Budget subcommittee, Becerra said the Trump administration’s actions on the environment, immigration and sanctuary cities have required his agency to respond in court.

“No one anticipated the extent to which federal executive actions would impact the people of California and the Department of Justice. Who knew that the federal government would play so fast and loose with the law and taxpayers’ pocketbooks?” Becerra told senators.

ADVERTISEMENT

After taking over the state Justice Department in January, Becerra has joined or initiated several lawsuits challenging the Trump administration over everything from an executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries to changes to federal fuel efficiency standards in which California agencies play a role.

On Thursday, Becerra suggested the next front in the legal war against the Trump administration could come over the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In a statement after the House passed its bill Thursday on a party-line vote, Becerra called healthcare a right.

“As California’s attorney general, I will use every legal tool at my disposal to safeguard the healthcare the people of our state depend on,” Becerra said.

The state budget proposal laid out by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in January allocated $858 million for Becerra’s Justice Department over the next fiscal year, a small increase over the previous year’s budget. In testimony, Becerra said he needed more to attract and keep qualified lawyers to defend the state.

“I am operating with a budget that was assembled without addressing the needs of current mandates and before our new reality of dealing with federal executive orders,” Becerra said. “If it feels like the attacks are constantly coming, it’s because they are.”

Some federal grants that would go to the state Justice Department are likely to be at risk too, if California passes a measure currently being considered by the legislature to bar state law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration detainer requests. That legislation, which would effectively make California a sanctuary state, would fly in the face of a federal order blocking grants to agencies that fail to comply with those detainer requests.

Brown is expected to unveil the second version of his state budget on May 15 after months of negotiations with state legislators. The new budget will cover the 2017–2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1.