Freedom Caucus has its own plan to ‘defund the police’ — using an obscure congressional rule: report

For years, Republicans weaponized promises by criminal justice activists to “defund the police” against various Democrats, even those who never advocated for doing it themselves.

Now, warned Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) in an article for The Bulwark released on Monday, the Freedom Caucus is cultivating a plan of their own that would effectively “defund the police” — or at least, forms of federal law enforcement they don’t like.

“In the caucus’s opening bid to McCarthy last July, it outlined some of the concessions its members would require in exchange for their support for his speakership bid in a new House majority. One of these concessions was the reinstatement of a little-known House procedure called the Holman Rule. McCarthy accepted this and other demands shortly before the House cast the first of our fifteen speaker ballots,” wrote Beyer. “So what is the Holman Rule, and why is it so important to hard-right MAGA conservatives?”

“The Holman Rule is named after Indiana Representative William Steele Holman, who proposed it in 1876,” said Beyer. “The rule was altered, removed, or reinstated repeatedly over the following century before it was repealed by then-Speaker Tip O’Neill in 1983. The basic structure remained consistent throughout the hundred-plus years it was in place: It allowed for specific provisions to reduce or eliminate the salaries of individual federal employees or offices. This creates a mechanism for legislators to, in effect, fire individual federal employees with appropriations riders on must-pass government funding bills.”

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In essence, Beyer wrote, this is like former President Donald Trump’s now-repealed executive order establishing “Schedule F” status for most civil servants — it’s a way to get around federal rules protecting merit-based employment for civil servants, so Republicans can fire anyone at any agency they don’t like. Anthony Fauci, for example, or staffers at the Congressional Budget Office who give poor reviews to Republican bills. But most troublingly, they could use it to defund the FBI and Justice Department for investigating Trump — something Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have all proposed doing.

“It is not a coincidence that the people seeking to defund the FBI and the Justice Department are people who were heavily involved in the plot to overturn the 2020 election, which has since become the subject of the largest criminal investigation in American history,” wrote Beyer. “Most of those named above requested presidential pardons from Donald Trump, and they have consistently been some of his most zealous allies in seeking to use their power to silence, intimidate, and punish his enemies.”

“The Congress — and far more importantly, the country — may soon depend on those reasonable Republicans to stand up to the radical right,” Beyer concluded. “There may be enormous consequences for American families and the future of our democracy if they don’t.”