Washington D.C., Jan 13, 2023 / 12:28 pm (CNA).
The House of Representatives will soon launch investigations into what Republicans call “the weaponization of the federal government” against political opponents, including pro-life activists.
The new Republican-majority House passed H.R. 12, “Establishing a Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” in a party-line vote (221-211) Jan. 10.
The new subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is authorized to investigate how federal agencies, such as the FBI and IRS, “collect, compile, analyze, use, or disseminate information about citizens of the United States, including any unconstitutional, illegal, or unethical activities.”
Chaired by Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, the subcommittee will have the power to issue subpoenas to law enforcement agencies. The resolution mandates a final report to be delivered by Jan. 2, 2025.
“This subcommittee will be critical for providing oversight and accountability against a federal government that has been brazenly and unashamedly turned against the people,” Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy told CNA.
Though the subcommittee’s members have not been announced in full, it will be made up of nine Republicans and six Democrats.
As ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler will be on the newly created subcommittee. Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie has said he will also be on the subcommittee.
The subcommittee is expected to investigate the FBI’s use of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act to target and arrest pro-life activists in addition to the government’s investigations that may have been influenced by political considerations.
Perhaps the most controversial use of the FACE Act was the arrest of Catholic father and pro-life activist Mark Houck. The Pennsylvania resident was accused of pushing a Planned Parenthood volunteer in defense of his son about a year before his arrest. In September 2022 Houck was taken into custody by armed FBI agents while he was at home with his wife and children.
A September 2022 open letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed by 22 House Republicans accused the FBI of using “an excessive level of force” in “an extraordinary overreach for political ends.” More questions arose about the manner of Houck’s arrest when his lawyers revealed he had offered to turn himself in voluntarily in June.
“This idea that if you’re a pro-life activist, you’re going to get your door kicked in, you’re going to get arrested and handcuffed in front of your seven kids and your spouse for simply praying in front of an abortion clinic and telling the guy who was harassing your son to knock it off … Americans are sick and tired of it,” Jordan said on the House floor Tuesday.
Under the Biden administration, the DOJ dramatically increased the use of the FACE Act in a series of arrests of anti-abortion protesters last year. According to the DOJ’s website, at least 26 were charged with violations against the FACE Act in 2022, while four were charged in 2021 and one in 2020.
“The American people deserve answers to the myriad questions resulting from the blatant disregard of Americans’ rights and freedoms by their own government. This subcommittee will not be afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead and expose the weaponization of the federal government,” Roy said to CNA.
The subcommittee’s creation is one of the first actions the House has taken since the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker. According to the Washington Post, the subcommittee signals a victory for the Freedom Caucus, which demanded its creation as a concession during the speaker vote.
This week the House also passed pieces of pro-life legislation including the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and a resolution condemning a string of attacks against pregnancy resource centers and pro-life organizations.
Roy, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Fox that McCarthy has promised the subcommittee will match the budget and resources of the Democratic House’s committee to investigate Jan. 6.
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