The border of the CHAZ in Seattle, Wash. Photo Credit: Derek Simeone (CC-By-2.0)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst announced a new bill that would restrict federal funding from going to cities that allow anarchists to control parts of their city.

In Seattle, Wash., protestors took over several blocks to create calling the area the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). There have been three shootings in that area, and protesters have blocked law enforcement and the fire department from responding.

Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan has downplayed the occupation. Business owners and residents of the occupied zone are suing the city for its failure to disband it. 

Another group has unsuccessfully attempted to create an autonomous zone in Washington, D.C.  

“Anarchy cannot continue on our streets. If city officials or state leaders fail to do their job and protect their citizens, the federal government – American taxpayers – aren’t going to pay for it,” Ernst said. “Local officials are letting chaos continue in their streets, and in some cases, preventing law enforcement from protecting the public. That’s not the America I know or fought for. This bill is straight forward and holds local leaders accountable to the people.”

The Ending Taxpayer Funding of Anarchy Act restricts federal funding for “anarchist jurisdictions,” or jurisdictions that abdicate their constitutional duty to their citizens to uphold the rule of law and provide police, fire, or emergency medical services due to non-governmental actors. The bill would restrict federal funding to these anarchist jurisdictions until they do their duty and ensure the rule of law prevails.

Ernst also expressed her disappointment over Senate Democrats blocking the JUSTICE Act that she said encompassed ideas both Republicans and Democrats wanted. She said the U.S. Senate should follow Iowa’s example. The state unanimously passing bipartisan police reform legislation in one day.

“In Washington, I’ve called on my colleagues to follow Iowa’s lead to work together and pass common-sense legislation on behalf of the American people. There is a lot of talk about defunding the police, and I know that’s a quick and provocative soundbite, but there are other ways we can go about reforming our police. I do believe that we can add additional support for our police, whether it’s in the form have mental health counselors or training and de-escalation techniques,” Ernst said.

“This police reform package includes a number of bipartisan measures that we can all agree on,” she said. “Unfortunately, politics got in the way, and Senate Democrats blocked us from even moving to debate on this important legislation. It’s disappointing, to say the least, and Iowans and all Americans deserve action. I hope my Democratic colleagues can put aside partisanship and help us get to a solution on behalf of the American people.”

Senate Democrats said that the bill did not go far enough, but did not offer amendments or specifics regarding what they wanted to be changed. The JUSTICE Act didn’t address qualified immunity for police officers. Caffeinated Thoughts asked Ernst her opinion of that reform idea.

“I looked forward to debating these issues on the floor of the Senate, but Democrats didn’t give us a shot. Law enforcement needs accountability, and I believe we need to enact common-sense reforms, but we need the other side of the aisle to come to the table to do that,” she told Caffeinated Thoughts.

Listen to her press call below:

Read the bill:

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