US cities sue Trump admin over directive to withhold federal funds

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U.S. President Donald Trump. (File Photo: IANS)

Three US cities of New York, Seattle and Portland have filed a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s memorandum which orders federal agencies to withhold federal grant funds from so-called “anarchist jurisdictions”.

“The cities argue the executive branch lacks authority to add conditions to congressionally appropriated funds without congressional authorization, and that the designation was made in an arbitrary and capricious manner based on a set of vague and subjective factors entirely within the US Attorney General’s discretion,” Xinhua news agency quoted a statement issued by New York City government as saying on Thursday.

The memorandum is titled “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities”.

In the lawsuit, the three cities challenged the proposed action on five different grounds, including violation of the Separation of Powers and the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The cities asked the federal court to remove the cities’ “anarchist jurisdiction” designations and prohibit the US Department of Justice and Office of Management and Budget from carrying out the administration’s scheme, according to the statement.

“President Trump’s attempt to take money from great American cities like New York, Portland and Seattle is not only based on lies, it is unconstitutional,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was quoted as saying in the statement.

“While we have been laser-focused on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, the president is using his budget office to play politics and distract from his own failures as Commander-in-Chief.

“We are confident the court will agree that the president’s attempt to withhold funds is without merit,” he added.

Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler were also quoted in the statement as objecting the memorandum.

The President’s memorandum says that the “federal Government provides States and localities with hundreds of billions of dollars every year, which fund a wide array of programs, such as housing, public transportation, job training, and social services”.

“(The) Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund,” what it deems “anarchist jurisdictions” .

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