By Sarah Guy, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
uly was a busy month in Congress as representatives rushed to wrap-up several items before the current month-long August recess. The appropriations process was in full swing in both chambers, and the Senate was busy passing comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation and confirming presidential nominees.
Congress returns from recess on September 9 and will be tasked with completing the appropriations process; however, the prospects of doing so before the start of the fiscal year on October 1 are grim.
With so many bills left unfinished, the vast difference between the House and Senate spending levels due to the House remaining steadfast on adhering to its $967 billion spending cap, which reflects the sequester cuts, and the Senate using $1.058 trillion as a cap and ignoring the sequestration cuts, it is anticipated that Congress will pass a continuing resolution (CR) in order to keep the government running beyond the start of the new fiscal year.
In mid-July, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their respective Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science spending bills that govern funding levels for assistance grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The Senate bill includes $385 million for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG); $394 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, and $417 million for Violence Against Women Act programs. The Senate bill also provides $150 million to the COPS Office for a new competitive grant program that would allow communities to hire school safety personnel, conduct school safety assessments, and create school safety plans.
The House bill includes $465 million for Byrne-JAG and $413 million for Violence Against Women Act programs. The House bill does not provide funding for COPS grants or the newly proposed Senate school safety personnel and emergency planning grant program.
Consider these figures in comparison to those from previous years:
- Byrne-JAG received $511 million in FY 2010; $494 million in FY 2011; $470 million in FY 2012; and, $365 million in FY 2013.
- The COPS office received $792 million in FY 2010; $495 million in FY 2011; $199 million in FY 2012; and, $210 million in FY 2013.
The House and Senate have also passed their respective FY 2014 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bills. Both the House and Senate bills include $1.5 billion for state and local preparedness grant programs. This represents a $38 million increase over the FY 2013-enacted level.
The Senate has passed its comprehensive immigration bill with a final vote of 68-32. The bill (S. 744) would create a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants now in the United States and also direct $46.3 billion toward securing the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill would double the U.S. Border Patrol’s size, require 700 miles of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border, and add unmanned aerial drones to help police the border.
The bill now awaits House action, where its future is less certain. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has stated that the House will take up its own bill and that he will not vote on an immigration overhaul bill or a conference report unless it has the support from the majority of the Republican Conference. The House will likely move to pass several bills rather than one large comprehensive immigration bill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Jones and Comey Nominations
The week of July 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of B. Todd Jones to be the first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) since 2006. The committee also approved the nomination of James B. Comey Jr. to be the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The IACP has endorsed the nominations of both Mr. Jones and Mr. Comey.
There is no schedule yet for full Senate consideration of the nominations of Mr. Jones and Mr. Comey. ♦
Please cite as:
Sarah Guy, "Appropriations Battle Ahead: House and Senate Disagree on Funding Levels for Law Enforcement Programs," Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 80 (August 2013): 8.