The House voted Tuesday to curb the law enforcement practice of seizing cash and property from people who are suspected of illegal activity but who have not necessarily been charged.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed an amendment to a government-spending package for 2018 that would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to remove restrictions on the use of asset forfeiture. The practice allows law enforcement to seize cash and property and keep at least part of the proceeds.
Opposition to relaxing asset-forfeiture limits produced a strange-bedfellows effort by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and liberal progressives. Sponsors of the amendment included Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.).
Their amendment would specifically restrict the use of what’s known as “adoptive forfeiture,” which allows the federal government to take assets seized by local authorities.
Critics say that the practice has allowed local authorities to circumvent state laws that were stricter than under federal statute. About two dozen states have laws that make it harder for authorities to seize property if a person has not been convicted of a crime.