Garland Offers DOJ Budget as GOP Questions ‘Feel-Good Policies’

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Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined his top priorities for the Justice Department on Tuesday as a Republican lawmaker challenged what he called “liberal, feel-good programs” and “troubling policy shifts” under the Biden administration.

In his first public testimony since being confirmed as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Garland defended the administration’s $35 billion budget request for the department and new policy initiatives, from fighting domestic terrorism to enforcing civil rights and trying to curb gun violence.

“Our budget supports my commitment to protecting our national security, including addressing both international and domestic terrorism, while respecting civil liberties,” Garland told a House Appropriations subcommittee.

But Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama, the top Republican on the panel, criticized some of the administration’s priorities and spending proposals, saying they’re coming at the expense of efforts to address foreign terrorism and human trafficking.

“I’m concerned that if implemented, this budget would irresponsibly invest taxpayer dollars in initiatives that lack the proper grounding in evidence or in science,” Aderholt said.

The hearing comes as the FBI is warning about an increased threat of domestic terrorism by violent extremists -- and white supremacists in particular -- and as the nation struggles with policing reforms and protecting minorities from violence.

President Joe Biden’s administration is seeking $131 million to tackle domestic terrorism, including increases of $45 million to support FBI investigations and $40 million for U.S. attorneys to manage increased caseloads. The budget also requests $209 million for the department’s civil rights division, a $33 million increase.

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