Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)

As the president sends federal agents to more cities that don’t want them, this group wants to slow down their funding

As President Donald Trump moves to place federal agents in more cities, a group of progressive lawmakers in the House want to pull the bill that funds Homeland Security before it comes up for a vote next week. 

Many of the federal police sent out by Trump work within the Homeland Security agency, and the bill to fund it has been full of controversy in the past, particularly on border protection and immigration, as both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are part of the agency. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the bill should not be passed without critical improvements. 

“Without the inclusion of additional necessary reforms, we believe that the Democratic Leadership should not attempt to pass Homeland Security funding by tying it to essential coronavirus research, education, and housing funding,” they wrote

Their joint statement came a day before Trump announced he is sending federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, despite statements from mayors that they don’t want secret federal police patrolling their streets. The plan, announced Wednesday, would place at least 100 DHS investigations officers and other Justice Department personnel in cities that have seen a recent rise in crime. 

So far, DHS officers have already been placed in Portland, Oregon to supposedly protect federal property. But local officials have complained that a federal presence in the city has exacerbated tensions in the city. Protesters have accused federal agents of pulling people off the streets in unmarked cars without probable cause. 

“Across the nation, protestors have been targeted by secret police and denied their civil liberties. The occupation of U.S. cities including Portland, OR and Seattle, WA by unidentified paramilitary agents is a chilling escalation from the Department of Homeland Security, which the Trump Administration has deputized to carry out xenophobic, unconstitutional attacks on human rights and civil liberties,” Jayapal and Pocan wrote. “This is the same agency, after all, which has orchestrated and implemented the indefinite detention of immigrants and separation of families at the border.” 

The DHS funding bill is part of a much larger package that would provide money for multiple different federal agencies. Funding bills are almost always controversial, and often several agencies get lumped together to make it harder to members to vote against it.

According to The Hill, last year Democrats opted not to bring the DHS funding bill to the floor while approving funding for 2020. 

This year, Democrats decided to include the funding in a seven-bill package that has gotten some criticism from Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). In a joint statement, they expressed concern over parts of the funding package that provide money for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). 

“The House must hold CBP accountable for their egregious violation of the law by withholding any further funding and imposing additional accountability measures with real consequences,” they wrote last week.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus includes nearly 100 members that have called for the funding package to be sidelined, which could pose a significant barrier to passing the bill.