Attorney General Eric Holder defended the U.S. Justice Department budget on Capitol Hill yesterday, saying that $1.6 billion cuts from the sequestration process could jeopardize programs that affect the safety of Americans across the country, reports the National Law Journal. “Despite our best efforts to reduce expenses, I am very concerned about the department’s ability to keep the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other key staff on the job, both this year and next,” Holder said.
Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee, scolded the department for being too slow to implement prison employment programs and moved at “a snail’s pace” addressing solvable human trafficking, and looking into allegations of sex trafficking via the Web site backpage.com. Wolf said Holder abused the process to buy a prison in Thomson, Il., for $165 million. The purchase disregarded the subcommittee’s direction. “It is an earmark,” Wolf said. “And it basically violates, if not the law, the basic sense of the process.” The fallout is still being felt, because it has undermined the relationship between the attorney general and the committee that funds it, Wolf said.