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WASHINGTON – Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday asked Congress for more than $ 35 billion in funding for the Department of Justice – a 5% increase from last year – including millions of dollars allocated to enforce civil rights, prosecute national terrorism, invest in community policing and increase funding for victims of sexual violence.

Some of the biggest funding requests include $ 1.2 billion for community policing, an increase of $ 304 million from last year and a< investissement historique >> $ 1 billion for the Office of Violence Against Women, which provides services to victims of family violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Garland’s budget request would bolster funding for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices by $ 85 million for domestic terrorism investigations and prosecutions. During his confirmation hearing, Garland said his “first priority” as attorney general would be the full-scale investigation into the attack on Capitol Hill on January 6. Since then, the Ministry of Justice has indicted more than 400 defendants. Across the country.

After: Merrick Garland Calls Capitol Riot Probe “First Priority” During Confirmation Hearing; promises no political interference

Garland is seeking $ 209 million for the Justice Department’s civil rights work – an increase of $ 33 million from last year – citing the need to uphold the right to vote and prosecute a growing number of hate crimes against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. The attorney general has vowed to make respect for civil rights a priority and acted quickly to revive federal oversight of police departments accused of abuse, oversight that languished under the Trump administration.

“Our budget supports my commitment to protect our national security, including the fight against international and national terrorism, while respecting civil liberties,” Garland told a House subcommittee during his first testimony as Attorney General.

Garland said he is seeking to re-energize funding for the Community Relations Service, a little-known but long-standing unit of the Justice Department that has for decades mediated the escalating racial, ethnic and gender clashes. again. Across the country. Funding for the unit has fallen to zero in four years under the Trump administration.

From $ 15 million to $ 0: As racial tensions simmer, Trump administration sought to dismantle DOJ’s ‘peacemaker’ unit

“This service has seriously weakened over the years,” Garland said. “An important part of our request for the Civil Rights Division is to increase recruitment for CRS.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, flanked by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, left, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, announces on April 26 that the Justice Department will investigate the practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky. A report of any constitutional and illegal violations will be published.

Representative Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Said the proposed increase for civil rights enforcement is “sorely needed.”

“This is a historic opportunity to overcome systemic barriers to full participation in society, to ensure access to economic opportunities and to protect the right to vote,” Cartwright said. “As we face unprecedented threats from domestic violent extremism, such as the attack on the Capitol on January 6 this year and the nationwide epidemic of gun deaths and injuries, the increases you propose to solve these problems are essential. “

Citing a “staggering rate” of gun deaths across the country, Garland is seeking additional funds to improve background checks, more comprehensive red flag laws and grants for community programs.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Raised early resistance against the massive budget proposal, saying the Justice Department was prioritizing programs at the expense of important domestic needs, such as investigating foreign terrorist threats , the prosecution of human trafficking and the protection of US intelligence assets from foreign government interference.

“I am concerned that if implemented, this budget would irresponsibly invest taxpayers’ money in initiatives that lack proper groundwork, evidence or ideas,” Aderholt said, highlighting initiatives to oversee taxpayers. firearms that he says violate the rights of law-abiding citizens.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DOJ budget prioritizes civil rights, domestic terror and sexual violence

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