GOP senator proposes bill to deny federal funds to cities, states that allow 'autonomous zones'

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWe know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Defense: Pentagon says extremist groups 'very aggressively recruit' troops | Capitol Guard deployment estimated at 3M | No US combat deaths in Afghanistan for a year | VA secretary confirmed MORE (R-Iowa) introduced a bill on Thursday that would withhold federal funding from local governments that don't disband autonomous zones created by non-government figures.

Ernst's bill comes after Black Lives Matter protesters have occupied Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood for more than two weeks.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said Monday that the Seattle Police Department, which was driven from the area — initially dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and later the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest — would be returning to the area after three people were shot there over the weekend, resulting in one death.


The Iowa senator contended that local leaders were not doing an adequate job keeping peace in their areas. 

"Mayors and city leaders are letting this chaos and anarchy continue in their streets, and in some cases preventing law enforcement from doing their job," Ernst told reporters Thursday, according to the Des Moines Register. "That's not the America I know or fought for."

"If local officials refuse to do their job, the federal government won't pay for it," Ernst said Thursday.

The bill would block federal aid to local governments that are "anarchist jurisdictions," which the bill defines as a government allowing an autonomous zone to function without the presence of law enforcement or first responders.

It applies to any state or local governments that are an "anarchist jurisdiction" at any point during a given fiscal year.

Earlier in the week, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) introduced a similar bill in the House. Bishop's bill would constrict federal funding from local governments if they allowed an autonomous zone to function for longer than a week.

Ernst is up for reelection in November and faces a tough battle from Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.