ongress continues to work on the 13 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2006. But only two of the bills have been signed into law by President Bush. Because the fiscal year ends on September 30, it is likely that Congress will have to pass at least one continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating.
On June 16, the House passed its version of the fiscal year 2006 Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 2862), which funds several key state and local law enforcement assistance programs. The Senate version of H.R. 2862 has not yet been passed by the full Senate, although it is currently under consideration. It was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 23.
Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
The House version of the bill would provide just $370 million for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program (the recently created combination of the Byrne Grant program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program). This is down from $634 million in fiscal year 2005, a 42 percent decrease. It also represents a cut of almost 60 percent from fiscal year 2004 and 65 percent from fiscal year 2003. President Bush had proposed eliminating this program altogether. In addition, the funding includes an $85 million earmark for the Boys and Girls Clubs, further decreasing the amount available for law enforcement agencies.
The Senate version would provide $625 million for the JAG program. This is a very slight decrease from fiscal year 2005 and a significant increase over the House version.
Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Program
As passed by the House, the bill includes $554 million for the Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) program. This is a slight decrease from the fiscal year 2005 level but a significant increase from the president's budget, which proposed just $118 for the program. But the bill includes no funds for the COPS hiring program. It does include the following: $38 million for tribal law enforcement; $60 million to combat methamphetamine production and distribution, to target drug hot spots, and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs; $120 million for the law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications program; $30 million for bullet-resistant vests; $25 million for criminal records upgrades; $177 million for DNA programs; $60 million for a new anti-gang initiative; and $10 million for the law enforcement costs related to establishing offender reentry programs.
The Senate version would provide $515 million for the program, down $91 million from fiscal year 2005 levels. This also includes the following: $20 million for tribal law enforcement; $60 million to combat methamphetamine production and distribution, to target drug "hot spots," and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs; $137 million for the law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications program; $27 million for bullet-resistant vests; $20 million for criminal records upgrades; $141 million for DNA programs; $5 million for programs aimed at preventing violence in public schools; and $3 million for the law enforcement costs related to establishing offender reentry programs.
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate included funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which assists state and local governments with the costs of jailing illegal immigrants who have committed crimes not related to their immigration status. The president's budget proposal completely eliminated this program. The House bill would provide $405 million, while the Senate version would provide $200 million for the program.
Violence Against Women
In the House version, proposed funding for grants under the Violence Against Women programs remains at $387 million, the same as last year. The Senate would provide $363 million.
Neither the House nor the Senate version would move the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Justice Department, as recommended by the president. In addition, neither bill includes the $1.2 billion rescission from the Crime Victims Fund that was proposed by the president.
Lawmakers in the House adopted an amendment, offered by Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont), that would prohibit the FBI from enforcing one of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act. The amendment targeted a section of the law (215) that authorizes investigators to access records that include borrowed library materials and bookstore sales records after obtaining a warrant. The amendment has triggered a veto threat from President Bush, and will most likely be removed during conference negotiations with the Senate. ■