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House GOP passes on using funding bills to target Trump prosecutors — for now

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House Republicans are bypassing a major tool they said they could use to target former President Donald Trump’s prosecutors — at least for now.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning rolled out a large funding package that includes Justice Department spending for the next fiscal year. But the 158-page bill doesn’t include language targeting a special counsel’s ability to investigate a current or former president, or DOJ’s ability to appoint them.

In addition to not explicitly targeting special counsel Jack Smith, the bill also doesn’t delve into the state-level cases against Trump or go after grant funding to those offices, such as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Speaker Mike Johnson had specifically pointed to the funding bills as one of three ways that Republicans could hit back after Trump’s felony conviction last month and “rein in” Smith specifically. Hardliners had proposed ideas like using the government funding bill to defund special counsels, as well as targeting grant money that could go to state-level prosecutors.

But while Republicans cut the DOJ’s overall funding and some grants that could be used for investigations, a person familiar with the bill text said, the legislation is not far off from what they did last year.

That doesn’t mean the GOP’s push to punish Trump’s prosecutors is over. The bill is all but guaranteed to attract a litany of hot-button amendments, including a revived fight over Trump’s legal battles, once it gets to the House floor. That vote is currently expected the week of July 22.

However, Republicans did manage to include a proposal that hits one of their favorite government punching bags: The new FBI headquarters. The Justice Department funding bill released on Tuesday includes language preventing the DOJ from using the money to carry out a relocation to a long-planned new FBI building.

Republicans greenlit several amendment votes targeting the Justice Department’s operations on the same funding bill last year. Those included reducing Smith’s salary to $1 and doing the same to special counsel David Weiss, who is leading the yearslong Hunter Biden investigation, and Attorney General Merrick Garland. House Republicans also included restrictions on a new FBI headquarters in their initial government funding bills last year.

But last year’s Justice Department funding bill ultimately derailed because of GOP infighting, and the House never approved it. An eventual spending deal worked out with the Democratic-led Senate did not include those so-called poison pill riders.

Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.