Merrick Garland seeks $4B to fight cybercrime, rights violations

Attorney General Merrick Garland will lay out an ambitious agenda of fighting domestic terrorism, reducing violent crime and securing voting rights, when he asks a Senate panel to bolster the Justice Department’s budget on Wednesday.

Mr. Garland will testify before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee seeking an additional $4 billion to expand the department’s efforts. All told, the Biden administration is seeking $35.3 billion for the department in FY 2022.

The requested budget reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to “enforcing our country’s laws and to ensuring the civil rights and civil liberties of our people,” Mr. Garland argues, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Garland will ask for an additional $150.7 million to combat cyberattacks, including ransomware hacks. If approved, it would be the largest increase in the department’s cyber resources in more than a decade and swell the department’s cyber budget to $1.1 billion.

A recent spate of disruptive ransomware attacks has hit the country, disrupting food supply chains and creating panic at the gas pumps.

Last month, Russian-based hackers attacked Colonial Pipeline, which operates one of the largest fuel pipelines in the country. A few weeks later, another criminal organization hit JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, with a cyber assault.

“These threats are grave and escalating and we must keep pace with an ever-evolving threat landscape,” the attorney general will say.

Mr. Garland will also seek an additional $752 million to reduce gun violence. If approved, the department’s violent crime budget would reach a record $9.4 billion.

“Protecting our communities from the recent increase in major violent crimes from the national epidemic of gun violence is among the pressing challenges facing the Department of Justice,” according to Mr. Garland‘s statement.

The budget request includes more than $1 billion in grants to support local, state, and tribal law enforcement organizations.

Mr. Garland is also asking for the largest-ever budget increase for the department’s Civil Rights Division, rising more than 15% to $183.2 million.

The new funds, if approved, would allow the rights division to go on add 85 new positions, including 60 attorneys. Those new hires will focus on protecting voting rights and investigate hate crimes, Mr. Garland will say.

“Protecting civil rights and civil liberties was a founding purpose of the Justice Department and is a top budgetary priority,” Mr. Garland will say. “Far too many still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution and climate change.”

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