California Attorney General Xavier Becerra apparently doesn't think that $858 million is nearly enough taxpayer money to fight the Trump administration. That is precisely the amount that California's state budget proposal, laid out by Governor Jerry Brown in January, allocated to Becerra's Justice Department but in testimony before the Senate Budget committee yesterday Becerra said he needs even more to attract and keep qualified lawyers to defend the state. Per The Hill:
“No one anticipated the extent to which federal executive actions would impact the people of California and the Department of Justice. Who knew that the federal government would play so fast and loose with the law and taxpayers’ pocketbooks?”
“I am operating with a budget that was assembled without addressing the needs of current mandates and before our new reality of dealing with federal executive orders,” Becerra said. “If it feels like the attacks are constantly coming, it’s because they are.”
After taking over the state Justice Department in January, Becerra has joined or initiated several lawsuits challenging the Trump administration over everything from an immigration to changes to federal fuel efficiency standards.
Meanwhile, after the passage of the Obamacare repeal bill yesterday, Becerra issued a statement defining healthcare as a "right" of all Americans and suggesting that the next front in his legal war against the Trump administration could come over the Republicans' efforts to undo Obama's legacy.
“I believe health care is a right. Today’s House vote takes a dangerous step towards jeopardizing the health security of millions of people in our state and throughout the country."
"As a Member of Congress, I was proud to help expand health coverage and lower costs for hardworking Americans. Every Member of Congress who voted for today's bill must answer why it is good to take away an American's access to his or her doctor. Would they do this to themselves or their family?"
"As California's Attorney General, I will use every legal tool at my disposal to safeguard the healthcare the people of our state depend on.”
And while we would never question Becerra's brilliant legal mind, we would love it if he could point us to the specific language in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees every U.S. citizen the "right" to healthcare.
Of course, the additional funding request from Becerra is even more questionable in light of the fact that California recently retained the law firm of Obama's former Attorney General, Eric Holder, to also fight the Trump administration. You just have to wonder how much of that incremental funding over and above $858 million will make its way into Holder's pocket? Per our post from January:
“With the upcoming change in administrations, we expect that there will be extraordinary challenges for California in the uncertain times ahead. This is a critical moment in the history of our nation. We have an obligation to defend the people who elected us and the policies and diversity that make California an example of what truly makes our nation great.”
“Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California,” Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the Senate, said in an interview. “This means we are very, very serious.”
Meanwhile, the sole Republican on California's budget committee asked what would seem like the most logical question following Becerra's request, namely why should taxpayers provide more money to Becerra to fight laws that could ultimately result in the state losing access to millions of dollars of federal funding.
State Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, the budget subcommittee’s sole Republican, pressed Becerra to quantify how much money his office receives from the federal government and how much could be put at risk by state policies, such as those embodied in Senate Bill 54, the “sanctuary state” bill.
“It makes no sense to give you an increase if your sole focus is to pursue policies that cut off” potentially hundreds of millions of federal dollars. “I don’t see why I would want to backfill someone hellbent on having their budget cut.”
Here's a radical idea Mr. Becerrra, how about you just do your job and simply enforce the laws of the land rather than trying to bend them to fit your own personal political beliefs. It would save California taxpayers a whole lot of money.