Sarah Guy, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
he fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process is currently under way in both U.S. legislative chambers, with the hope of passing all 12 annual spending bills before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2014. Congress will likely move spending bills forward in small packages, starting with the least controversial bills, such as Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) and the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
At the end of May 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 321-87, its FY 2015 CJS Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4660), which funds the U.S. Department of Justice at $27.8 billion. This represents an increase of $383 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. The House CJS bill was considered under open rule, which means there is no cap on the amount of amendments that can be offered. Highlights from the bill include the following:
- An amendment offered by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), which passed by voice vote, to increase funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grants to $180 million, level funding with FY 2014. The IACP worked closely with Congressman Reichert and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to ensure the passage of this amendment. Federal funding through the COPS Hiring Program to hire or retain officers has always been a top priority for the IACP.
- An amendment authored by Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA), which passed by a vote of 306-106, to provide $3 million in funding for the COPS Technology Grant Program. The COPS Technology Grant Program awarded grants to over 3,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States until 2010. This amendment restores the program and will allow law enforcement agencies to purchase advanced technologies to help make officers safer, better informed, and more effective and efficient. The IACP worked directly with Congressman McNerney to ensure the passage of this amendment.
- An amendment offered by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) to increase funding by $19.5 million for grants to states to upgrade the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), for a total of $78.5 million. The IACP was very vocal in its support of this amendment, and it passed by a vote of 260-145.
- $376 million for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Program, level funding with FY 2014.
- $44 million for Drug Courts, $3 million above the FY 2014 level.
- $425.5 million for Violence Against Women programs, a slight increase over FY 2014.
- $36 million for grants to address backlogs of sexual assault kits at law enforcement agencies, a new grant program.
- $75 million for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, level funding with FY 2014.
- An amendment offered by Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) that would prohibit the Department of Justice from spending any funds to enforce U.S. federal laws related to marijuana in states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives. The IACP advocated against the passage of this amendment and called on IACP members to reach out to their representatives. Despite these efforts, the amendment passed by a vote of 219-189.
The Senate Full Committee on Appropriations marked up their version of the FY 2015 CJS Bill (S. 2437) on June 5. The bill provides an overall funding level of approximately $28 billion for the Department of Justice, an increase over FY 2014. Highlights from the bill include
- $376 million for the Byrne-JAG Program, level funding with FY 2014 and the House FY 2015 passed bill.
- $180 million for COPS hiring grants, level funding with FY 2014 and the House FY 2015 passed bill.
- $430 million for Violence Against Women Act programs, a slight increase over FY 2014 and House FY 2015 passed bill.
- $75 million for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, level funding with FY 2014 and the House FY 2015 passed bill.
- $41 million for Drug Courts, level funding with FY 2014 level and slightly lower than the House FY 2015 passed bill.
- $41 million for a new community-based sexual assault response reform initiative that tests backlogged kits and develops approaches to improve the law enforcement response to sexual assault and services for victims.
On June 10, 2014, the U.S. House passed by a vote of 229-192 its FY 2015 Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4745). The bill includes $17.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation for FY 2015. This is $727.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Included in that total is $824 million in both mandatory and discretionary funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—an increase of $5 million over the fiscal year 2014 enacted level—and $572 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The House also adopted an amendment on a vote of 255-171, authored by Representative John Fleming (R-LA), which would prohibit federal funds from being used to purchase and acquire automatic license plate readers or any camera that collects or stores vehicle license plate numbers.
The Senate Full Committee on Appropriations marked up its FY 2015 Transportation- HUD bill (S. 2438) on June 5. Highlights from the bill include $834 million for the NHTSA, an increase of $15 million over the FY 2014 enacted level, and $592 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Senate bill did not include an amendment on automatic license plate readers.
The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill on June 11. The bill provides $39.2 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This is a decrease of $50 million below the FY 2014 enacted level. IACP is pleased to report that the House bill specifically states that none of the funds provided in the House bill or any other act may be obligated to implement the National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP) unless explicitly authorized by Congress. The IACP strongly advocated against the U.S.president’s budget proposal to consolidate 16 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) state and local preparedness grant programs, like the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), into one single grant program, the NPGP. Under the president’s proposal, NPGP would have removed the requirement that at least 25 percent of the total funds awarded under SHSGP and UASI be dedicated towards law enforcement terrorism prevention activities and moved the management of the consolidated grant program to the states. States would then have been given the authority to determine how they wanted to use their SHSGP and UASI allocations.
The House Homeland Security Appropriations bill provides funding for FEMA’s individual state and local first responder grant programs at the following levels: $466 million for the SHSGP (with not less than $55 million for Operation Stonegarden); $600 million for the UASI; $100 million for Public Transportation Security Assistance; and $100 million for Port Security Grants.
The U.S. House and Senate will now need to conference their respective bills and agree upon final funding levels for programs of importance to law enforcement. The IACP may be calling on its members to reach out to their congressional delegates to voice support or opposition for certain proposals. ♦
Please cite as:
Sarah Guy, “Federal Funding Update: Full Steam Ahead on Appropriations,” Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 81 (July 2014): 10–11.