Some House Republicans had expected that their new subcommittee dedicated to probing the so-called “weaponization of the federal government” would have the same funding as the previous Congress’ efforts to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In fact, House Judiciary Republicans have officially requested only a $2 million per year increase in the House Judiciary’s budget for the new subcommittee’s efforts, alongside a $15 million “reserve fund” that could be tapped in an ongoing manner. The $2 million starting point is smaller than what Democrats spent on their investigation into the insurrection: more than $18 million, according to a senior congressional aide.
“The Committee on the Judiciary expects to have an aggressive oversight and legislative agenda in the 118th Congress,” Judiciary chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) writes in a copy of the budget request reviewed by Rolling Stone. He asks for “a $2 million annual increase” in the House Judiciary’s budget, an amount to “meet the immediate needs of additional staff and resources” for both the new weaponization subcommittee and House Judiciary Committee more broadly.
Such an amount would cover the hiring of some researchers and lawyers, but falls short of the scale of the Jan. 6 Committee’s efforts. At its peak, the committee had employed roughly 50 investigators across five teams to carry out more than 1,200 interviews and depositions, according to a former committee aide. Its hires included seasoned prosecutors, as well as outside intelligence contractors to move aggressively during the committee’s 18 months of operation.
Jordan’s budget request leaves room, however, to scale his ambitions. He asks for “the ability to access up to an additional $15 million from the reserve fund” in order “to address ongoing and unforeseen needs” — an amount that, when added to the $2 million per year, would total $19 million, roughly equivalent to the Jan. 6 spend. He adds that the Judiciary Committee “may also require up to 50 additional staff slots.” It isn’t clear, however, under what circumstances that reserve fund would be tapped, or for how much. So far, the work of the subcommittee has been carried out by the staff of the full House Judiciary Committee.
A spokesperson for Jordan says the chairman has not ruled out additional funding for the subcommittee. “Republicans are fully committed to the mission and important work of the Select Subcommittee, and the Speaker has made clear that we will have access to all the resources needed to complete our task,” the spokesperson said. “The funding request is structured to achieve our mission in a fiscally responsible manner, recognizing that we work on behalf of the American people and we must be careful stewards of their tax dollars.”
House Republicans have vowed to devote their control of the chamber to intense scrutiny of the Biden administration and “deep state” conspiracies across the federal government. The exercise would have a political aim, Jordan said at the Conservative Political Action Conference last February. “All those things need to be investigated” in order to “help frame up the 2024 race when I hope and I think President Trump is going to run,” Jordan said. “We need to make sure he wins.” In the days-long fight over the speakership, House Republicans’ far-right flank secured a promise from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to create the subcommittee, a brainchild of the Trump-aligned Center for Renewing America.
“We got what we call a ‘Church-style’ committee,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said at the time, “with the kind of budget and kind of staff — we said at least as much as the Jan. 6 Committee.” The sum would provide “more resources, more specificity, more power, to go after this recalcitrant Biden administration,” he added. (Roy had been among the GOP members initially appointed to the subcommittee, but was quietly replaced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, with Roy citing his standing commitments on the Rules, Judiciary and Budget Committees.)
The first hearing of the subcommittee did not focus on the promised administration oversight. Instead, Republican lawmakers and their witnesses aired a market basket of right-wing grievances, including complaints over Hillary Clinton’s private email server. At its conclusion, Fox News host Jesse Watters lamented that the spotlight hadn’t yielded anything fruitful for the right’s war on the deep state. “I’m sick of these hearings,” Watters lamented. “Tell me this is going somewhere. Can I throw someone in prison? Can someone go to jail? Can someone get fined?”
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