Trump’s transfer to chop off federal funds to 4 U.S. cities is illegal

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Trump's move to cut off federal funds to four U.S. cities is unlawful

opinion

Jon Healey
| Los Angeles times

Once again, President Donald Trump has me wondering whether Republicans are still the party of federalism and small government, or whether they just think that the powers reserved for states vary depending on whether they vote red or blue.

Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday that included federal agencies even more closely on local public safety as elected officials there failed to do enough to halt the sometimes violent and destructive protests against police brutality. Targeting four specific cities – Seattle, New York City and Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon – for potentially cutting federal funding for these reasons, he wrote, "My government will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that are deteriorating . " into lawless zones. "

Please point out which part of the Constitution or federal law gives the President the power to direct the enormous amount of dollars flowing into cities on whether they will treat their crime problems the way the President wants them to. And these four cities could just be the beginning. The order also requires the Attorney General to compile a list within two weeks, which is updated every six months. "A list that includes the state and local jurisdictions that have allowed the persistence of violence and property destruction and have refused to take reasonable action to combat these activities (anarchist jurisdictions)."

In the meantime, the head of the Office of Administration and Budget of the White House is to advise the federal authorities on how these cities can be excluded from the award of grants or "disadvantaged" "to the extent permitted by law".

Insert the sound of screeching brakes here. Can you imagine Congress setting up a scholarship program for community development, housing, or other local needs, and giving the executive the discretion to lock down cities ravaged by "anarchists"? If anything, you'd think Congress would set criteria that favor, not punish, cities with crime problems.

However, don't expect this government to take a conservative stance on what the law allows a president. This is, after all, the same group that tried to cut off grants to community-based police services for cities and states that did not want to do the jobs best left to immigration and customs officials. The efforts were quickly blocked by a federal judge; Meanwhile, three appeals courts have ruled that the administration did not have the legal authority to cut the grants, while an appeals court found the opposite result.

But Trump's new order covers all of the money the federal government sends to cities, which goes well beyond the realm of law enforcement. What is particularly appalling here is the fact that Wednesday's order is not fixed.

Republicans have long referred to themselves as the party of law and order, and not always in a noble way. But the GOP should also be the party that speaks out against overreach of the federal government. And what Trump did on Wednesday is clearly overreach.

Jon Healey writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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