President Donald Trump is ordering places like New York, Portland, Washington, D.C., and Seattle to be blocked from federal funding. Late Wednesday, the president signed a memo that ordered all federal agencies to conduct reports that would detail how their funding could be redirected away from “anarchist jurisdictions.”
As the New York Post reported, the reports are due in 14 days and Attorney General William Barr will be required to create a list of the cities within the U.S. that have allowed “violence and the destruction of property to persist.”
By taxing citizens, the federal government provides funding for regions to cover things like transportation, law enforcement, and housing. While Congress is in charge of approving most funding, there is some leeway for the Trump administration to reroute or cancel some of this funding.
The new memo specifically asks for the power to cancel funding.
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” the memo stated. “It is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”
“To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”
While much of city and state funding comes from local taxes, the move could deprive these locations of a significant amount of money. New York City could lose $7 billion annually. Portland, which is the smallest city on the list, could lose $252 million.
The document argues that brutality has increased in certain areas even as arrests have gone down. It also called out local leaders like Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, along with Seattle for allowing the “autonomous zone” to exist within the area for several weeks as protesters demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As The Washington Post reported, Wheeler, a Democrat who has been fiercely critical of Trump, pushed back on the administration’s decision, calling it a “new low.” Wheeler added that the president was disenfranchising people in order to further his political ambitions.
Meanwhile, the White House has argued that the move in an attempt to encourage mayors to work harder to reduce or eliminate the turbulence from riots.