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'Anarchist' Cities Sue Trump

New York, Seattle and Portland argue president can't withhold funding
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2020 7:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Three cities labeled "anarchist" by President Trump are fighting back with an un-anarchist weapon: a lawsuit. New York, Seattle and Portland announced the suit Thursday, WABC reports. The Seattle filing names the president, Attorney General Bill Barr, and other administration officials. If it stands, the designation could cost the cities billions in federal funding. "It's morally wrong, it's legally unacceptable, it's unconstitutional, and we're going to fight it," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the threatened aid includes "restricting federal funds for coronavirus relief, funds for HIV treatment, and funds for newborn screenings," adding that the endangered money includes "federal investments designed to help our most vulnerable residents." The three cities are led by Democratic officials, whom Trump has often criticized.

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Congress controls the money, and Seattle's city attorney said that makes withholding any of it from cities an "unlawful abuse of federal power," per MyNorthwest. The Office of Management and Budget argues that the money isn't earmarked by Congress, it's part of "discretionary grant programs." New York's allocation alone is as much as $12 billion, per the Times. Seattle is supposed to receive $230 million in federal grants this fiscal year and Portland $340 million. The cities said any cuts would hit the fight against the coronavirus hard; New York is still waiting on more than $2 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Justice Department has already given the three cities the designation. (The Justice Department memorandum says Trump wanted to identify cities that allow "anarchy, violence and destruction.")

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