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Garland, Rep. Garcia spar over ‘enormously concerning’ crime spike

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., sparred with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday over the state of the Department of Justice and “crime spikes like we’ve never seen before.”

During Garland’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on the DOJ’s budget request, Garcia took issue with the attorney general saying he was “pleased” with the progress that the department has made since he appeared before the committee last summer.

SEN. KENNEDY GRILLS AG GARLAND ON CRIME, CALLS CHICAGO ‘WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR SHOOTING RANGE’

Rep. Mike Garcia, left, and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva prior to a press conference on illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley outside the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau in Palmdale.

Rep. Mike Garcia, left, and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva prior to a press conference on illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley outside the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau in Palmdale.

“I can’t wrap my brain around why you would be pleased with what’s gone on in the last, call it year to 18 months,” Garcia said. “In the last year, we’ve seeing crime spikes like we’ve never seen before: 54% increase in shoplifting, 43% increase in police officers shot around this country in the line of duty, 59% increase in officers killed since 2021, 80% of Americans report that they are concerned about the crime and violence. Homicides nationally increased by 5% in 2021 when compared to 2020. … Gun assaults jumped 8%. 12 cities nationwide broke annual homicide records in 2021, and car thefts rose by 14%.”

“I don’t know what is pleasing about that progress,” he continued. “In addition to the crime rates, we’re seeing record inflation approaching 9% now and a budget increase of only 6%, which is effectively defunding our law enforcement agencies. The grants we give them, you dissolved a couple of months ago.”

“If this is good progress, what is the biggest threat to the United States right now?” he asked. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland answers questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing to discuss the fiscal year 2023 budget of the Department of Justice at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2022.

Attorney General Merrick Garland answers questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing to discuss the fiscal year 2023 budget of the Department of Justice at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2022.
(GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Garland responded by saying he was concerned by the crime rates but that his budget request would help remedy the issue.

“The enormous increase in violent crime, which began in 2020, before we came into office, is enormously concerning to me,” he said. “And that is why as soon as I did come into office, we developed a major strategy to fight violent crime, which focuses very heavily on our joint task forces with state and locals who are responsible at the first level for every kind of violent crime you describe. That is the reason that we have asked each year for more money, for grants for state and local law enforcement to fight that violent crime and with our assistance at the federal level. 

“So we’re asking for $8.2 billion in grants for the police to be able to do that,” he continued. “And we’re asking for $20.2 billion dollars for our own federal law enforcement on that regard. That’s what I’m pleased about, the way in which we are reorganizing ourselves to fight this terrible violent crime.”

Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, speaks during the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. 

Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, speaks during the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. 
(Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Garcia told Fox News Digital that he was “not at all” satisfied with Garland’s answer.

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“I’m not happy with the response at all,” he said. “This is a guy in the last year, he’s been talking about white supremacy being the biggest threat to democracy. He’s been supporting these efforts to basically target and investigate parents who are getting a little more vocal at school district hearings and committees. So it’s not clear to me that he understands what his job is. It’s not clear to me that he understands what real law enforcement and law and order is, which is scary because it literally is his job.”

“There’s not enough money you can throw at this problem,” he added. “It requires a cultural change and for this executive branch to start being on the side of the good guys rather than the bad guys. This guy’s part of the problem.”

Jessica Chasmar is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Jessica.Chasmar@fox.com and on Twitter: @JessicaChasmar.

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