Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday blasted Attorney General Merrick Garland over the nation’s rising crime rate, telling him that he shouldn’t be pleased with how the Justice Department has addressed the threat.
Mr. Garland began his opening remarks by telling lawmakers that he was “pleased” with the progress the Justice Department has made in several areas since he last testified before Congress in June 2021.
Republicans immediately seized on this comment, telling Mr. Garland they don’t know how he can be content with the Justice Department’s actions on violent crime.
“I can’t wrap my brain around why you would be ‘pleased’ with what’s gone on in the last year-to-18 months. In the last year, we’ve seen crime spikes like we’ve never seen before,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, California Republican.
Mr. Garcia then proceeded to tick off national crime statics including a 5% increase in homicides last year compared to 2020, a 54% increase in shoplifting across the country, and recent FBI statistics showing a 59% increase in the number of police officers killed in the line duty in 2021, compared to the previous year.
He also noted that 12 major U.S. cities set homicide records in 2021.
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“I don’t know how you can be pleased by this progress,” Mr. Garcia said. “I want you to explain this to me if you can. This is all inexplicable and inexcusable to me,” Mr. Garcia continued.
Mr. Garland fired back that the increase in crime began in 2020 before he came into office, but acknowledged that the crime spike is “enormously concerning.”
He said that the Justice Department has developed a strategy to fight crime at the state and local levels and urged lawmakers to fund the strategy. Mr. Garland has asked Congress for an extra $8.2 billion in grants to dole out to local police to combat violent crime and another $20 billion to battle crime at the federal level.
“We developed a major strategy to fight violent crime, which focuses heavily on our joint task forces with state and locals who are responsible at the first level for every kind of violent crime you described,” Mr. Garland responded. “That is the reason we asked each year for more money for grants for state and local law enforcement to fight crime with our assistance at the federal level.”
“That’s what I’m pleased about,” he said. “The way in which we are reorganizing ourselves to fight this violent crime threat.”
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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