Sometimes the "power of the purse" can seem like an overused cliché from House members, but it's real – and it's the most meaningful avenue available to a slim party majority in the chamber.
Election interference in 2016 through the "Russia collusion" hoax, the Hunter Biden laptop story, FBI whistleblowers and the administration pressuring Big Tech to target conservative groups and pro-life activists are just a few of the examples cited by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to Fox News in January when he announced his plans to lead a select committee investigation into President Joe Biden's mishandling of classified documents.
There have been more localized examples such as the FBI targeting Loudoun County (Maryland), Virginia school parents and the government raid of pro-life activist Mark Houck. The latter led to a lawsuit against the Department of Justice announced last week.
The House has passed appropriations bills that would cut funding for the Department of Justice. The DOJ's role in weaponization is clear, but some departments go about things more subtly. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has given grants to colleges and universities.
Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyoming) wants to see the House do more.
"I just can't figure out why we're not being more aggressive with this," she stated on Washington Watch Thursday. "Why is the Department of Homeland Security even giving grants that would relate to First Amendment issues? But that's what they've done.
"What we've discovered is that some of this grant money has gone to radical leftists – people who actually profess to be members of Antifa. This grant money has gone to these universities, and then they're using the money to indoctrinate the next generation of students into this radical ideology."
Hageman explained that one university which received a grant from Homeland Security used in one class a pyramid illustration that compared the Republican National Committee to Nazi Germany.
"That's absolute insanity, yet it is our federal funds that have actually gone to that university for purposes of furthering that agenda and that message," she told show host Tony Perkins.
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) told Perkins that weaponization is front and center in appropriations discussions. "We're definitely working on it," he vowed.
Aderholt explained that one bill has cut funding to the FBI. Current language in the bill requires the FBI to report its interviews with subjects and increases protections for whistleblowers from retaliation by the bosses of federal agencies.
"It's one thing to expose them. It's another thing to take away the money. Obviously, the people at the Department of Justice are not going to work for free, and if you don't have any money for any programs over there, then you're able to stop it," Aderholt said.
The plus side of de-funding
The Alabama Republican explained that this type of oversight has the dual effect of letting House members put the money someplace else.
"When we pull the money away from these programs that are there for, obviously, mischievous purposes, we can put money into the programs that do the right things," Aderholt said.
Republicans' attempt to hold Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for questionable grant money and many other better-known grievances stalled this week when an impeachment vote fell short. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in a 209-201 vote to refer an article of impeachment to the Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) forced the vote which bypassed the usual process of an impeachment inquiry. Some Republicans thought the move was premature, while others questioned whether Mayorkas needs to be removed, The Washington Stand reported.
"I believe that died because this is being investigated through the committee. So, we have a very robust investigation going into Mayorkas right now, and I believe that there are two, if not three reports that have already been issued that identified the various ways in which he has engaged in a dereliction of duty," Hageman said.
Starve the weaponization actors
What's clear to Hageman is that Mayorkas and other Democrats in the Biden administration have fine-tuned the process of using government resources against political opponents.
"We have got to start starving these agencies so that they actually focus on the very purpose for which they were created and not start getting their tentacles into all of these other areas that are just being used to further a leftist agenda," she said.
Right now, Republicans have one way to fight back – and Aderholt says they plan to take advantage of that.
"There's not a standalone bill or anything we could do that would ever pass the Senate right now … and certainly the President wouldn't sign it. So, being able to take that money away, that's really where we are. That's why they say the House has the power of the purse. We're able to decide where that money goes," Aderholt said.