Montana Rep. Rosendale, GOP lawmakers to introduce bill calling for ‘lawless’ cities to lose federal funding
EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Matt Rosendale on Thursday plans to introduce new legislation that would cut off funding to any region deemed by the Attorney General to be a “lawless jurisdiction” amid a surge in violence and destruction following many cities’ decisions to cut police department funding, Fox News has learned.
The Montana lawmaker and a handful of other Republican co-sponsors will introduce the “Lawless Cities Accountability Act,” which will effectively create consequences for jurisdictions that have allowed or turned a blind eye to lawlessness.
“It’s obvious how important policing is to maintain communities and keep its citizens safe,” Rosendale said in a statement provided to Fox News. “Cities that decided to strip funding from their police departments have seen a major increase in violent crime committed, putting Americans at risk. No federal funds should be given to cities that continue to encourage criminal rioting and lawlessness. We cannot allow these jurisdictions to jeopardize the progress we have made as a nation to fight crime. “
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At least nine other Republican Congress members have co-sponsored the bill, including Representatives Alex Mooney, Ted Budd, Alex Mooney, Dan Bishop, Brian Babin, Bob Good and Lauren Boebert, Fox News has learned.
“Keeping citizens safe should be the top priority of every elected official,” Babin said in a prepared statement provided to Fox News. “Last year, we watched as cities across America were ravaged by violence and crime because their leaders repeatedly chose to abandon law enforcement and bend the knee to the radical Left. We are a nation of law and order, and we should be working to support police departments more, not less. City officials who willingly ignore the rule of law, fight to defund law enforcement, and allow chaos to reign supreme, should not be given federal funds – plain and simple. “
The legislation defines “lawless jurisdiction” as being any region that bars a police or law enforcement agency from “intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction;” pull law enforcement protection from an area where they are “lawfully entitled to access;” “disempowers or defund law enforcement agencies;” and “refuses to accept an offer of law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government amid widespread violence or destruction.”
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The legislation calls for US Attorney General Merrick Garland to make determinations no later than 30 days of the bill’s enactment as to which jurisdictions fall under the definition of being “lawless.” It further calls for Garland’s office to make such determinations, and reasoning behind such determinations, available to the public.
It further argues that such “lawless jurisdiction” should then be cut off to federal funding.
Protests flared in May 2020 through the rest of the year into 2021 following several high-profile deaths of Black Americans allegedly at the hands of law enforcement or racist individuals. Demonstrations often protested systemic racism or police brutality and called for law enforcement agencies to be defunded. But they frequently descended into riots and created instances of violence, destruction and, in some instances, widespread looting.
In Portland, protests carried on months, and at one point prompted a federal law enforcement response after rioters began targeting federal buildings and property. The presence of federal authorities only exacerbated the unrest and local officials were outspoken in their lack of support for the federal involvement. Protests continued even after federal law enforcement agents were replaced with local and state officers.
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According to the legislation, the “failure of cities to enforce the rule of law has severe consequence and costs lives.” Murders in America’s big cities increased by 33% in 2020, according to previous reports, and have continued to increase at a startling pace.
“To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government ensure Federal funds and grants do not go to jurisdictions that permit anarchy , violence, and destruction in America’s cities, “the legislation states. “This is critical to ensure that Federal funds are used effectively, and to safeguard taxpayer dollars entrusted to the Federal Government for the benefit of the American people.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.