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White Republicans bid to defund Black officials


House motions continue to fall flat

A bid by House Republicans to reduce the salary of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to $1 failed on Nov. 9,  a day after a similar attempt to cut off all funding from the office of Vice President Kamala Harris was voted down. A similar move against Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin also failed.

The amendment to reduce the salary of Jean-Pierre, the first Black White House press secretary in U.S. history, was introduced by Rep. Claudia Tenney, a White Republican from New York who branded her target a “liar” and “antisemitic.” On Nov. 9, the House rejected the move by 257 votes against 165, with one abstention, in a poll that saw 54 Republicans joining the entire House Democratic caucus.

On Nov. 8, Rep. Mike Collins, a White GOP politician from Georgia, introduced an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act that would have blocked any of the money from going to the office of Harris, who is the daughter of a Black father and a South Asian mother. Hardline House Republicans have introduced a number of proposals to cut funding to what they perceive as hostile agencies and officials in recent months, with former president Donald Trump urging the GOP to “defund all aspects” of President Joe Biden's government in September.

Speaking from the House floor on Nov. 9 in support of her amendment, Tenney said: “During Ms. Jean-Pierre's tenure as press secretary, she has repeatedly lied to the American people and acting in a condescending manner towards reporters and also violated the Hatch Act.”

In June, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a watchdog agency, concluded Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act by using the term “mega MAGA Republicans” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The 1939 Hatch Act was introduced to restrict political campaigning by federal employees. The OSC sent Jean-Pierre a warning letter but did not launch disciplinary action.