With the Justice Department asking for a seven percent budget increase for the next fiscal year, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) tried to paint the agency as hypocritical in its defense of mask mandates and simultaneous abandonment of pandemic-minded border controls. Collins asked Attorney General Merrick Garland, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee about his department’s $37.6 billion budget request, how the DOJ can justify arguing in court that pandemic infections have “subsided enough to warrant the termination of Title 42, which will worsen the problem of tens of thousands of unvaccinated migrants illegally entering the country — while at the same time arguing in a separate case that the public health consequences are dire enough to warrant compelled mask usage by Americans on public transportation?”
Garland's defense: He continued, “We do not make the public health determinations that you’re speaking of,” reports Courthouse News Service. Collins also asked Garland if he agrees that the inability to secure the southern border has led to more illegal drugs being funneled into the U.S. “The job of the Justice Department is to fight the large-scale drug-trafficking organizations that are bringing these drugs into the country,” Garland said. “That’s the reason we have asked for … increases for all of our DEA drug programs.” He noted that $2.52 billion would support the Drug Enforcement Administration to target drug cartels and trafficking. “We are asking for all the money we can get and we are not stopping,” he said. While immigration and the pandemic took center stage during Tuesday’s hearing, the Justice Department’s request for $34 million to bolster resources for the ongoing Capitol riot investigation was largely left out.