n June 29, the House passed the fiscal year 2007 Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 5672), which funds several key state and local law enforcement assistance programs. During consideration on the floor, lawmakers approved several amendments adding funds to these assistance programs, including $77 million in additional funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program.
The House, following the lead of the Appropriations Committee, largely rejected administration proposals that would have sharply reduced local law enforcement grants. The bill would provide $2.7 billion for assistance to state and local law enforcement, which is more than double the $1.1 billion requested by the administration.
The bill would provide $635 million for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which was formed two years ago by combining the Byrne Grant program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program. This is up from $416 million in fiscal year 2006, an increase of $219 million (52 percent).
The increased funding simply brings the program back to fiscal year 2005 funding levels and represents a decrease of $415 million (40 percent) from fiscal year 2003. The administration had proposed eliminating the JAG program altogether.
In addition, it is important to note that the bill further lowers the amount available to law enforcement under this program by earmarking $75 million (almost 12 percent of the total funding) for the Boys and Girls Club.
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program would receive $584 million, up from $478 million in fiscal year 2006, a 22% increase. The Bush Administration had proposed just $102 million. But it represents a decrease of more than 44 percent from just five years ago.
During floor consideration, lawmakers approved an amendment to increase funding for the bullet-resistant vest matching grant program by an additional $12 million, bringing the total for the program to $32 million, up slightly from fiscal year 2006.
The COPS funding also includes $99 million for initiatives to combat methamphetamine production and trafficking (up from $63 million in fiscal year 2006); $100 million for law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications (down from $129 million in fiscal year 2006); $6.3 million for grants to upgrade criminal records (down from $10 million in fiscal year 2006); $4.9 million for an offender re-entry program (same as fiscal year 2006); $175 million for DNA analysis and upgrades (up from $126 million in fiscal year 2006); $31 million for tribal law enforcement programs (up from $22 million in fiscal year 2006); and $54 million for Project Safe Neighborhoods, of which $40 million is for a national program to reduce gang violence (same as fiscal year 2006).
Largely along party lines, lawmakers defeated an amendment by Representative Anthony Weiner (D-New York) that would have added $476 million to the COPS program in order to hire 6,000 officers.
Combined, the two primary law enforcement assistance programs would receive $1.219 billion, an increase of 36 percent over fiscal year 2006. This is certainly an improvement over the $102 million proposed by the administration. But it demonstrates the continued downward trend over the past five years in funding for these crucial programs. For example, in fiscal year 2002, these programs received more than $2 billion in funding.
In addition, the bill would provide $418 million for violence against women prevention and prosecution programs, a slight increase over fiscal year 2006.
It would also provide $415 million 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 administration had also proposed eliminating this program, which received $405 million in fiscal year 2006.
Lawmakers also approved an amendment by Representative Marilyn Musgrove (R-Colorado) that would prohibit the use of funds to enforce a requirement that child trigger locks be sold with all handguns. The requirement was added in the Senate last year to a bill that barred liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers.
During consideration of the bill, lawmakers also approved an amendment by Representative John Culberson (R-Texas) that would prohibit states and localities that do not share information on illegal aliens with federal officials from receiving federal funds provided under this bill. The amendment targets state and local governments that have so-called sanctuary policies, in which law enforcement officers are prohibited from sending information to, or receiving information from, federal enforcement authorities about the immigration status of foreign nationals that they encounter in the course of their police duties. The House passed a similar amendment during consideration of the Department of Homeland Security fiscal year 2007 appropriations bill (H.R. 5441).
The IACP opposes the inclusion of this provision for two reasons. The IACP firmly believes that federal legislation authorizing or funding grants to state, local, and tribal agencies should not contain either earmarks, which direct discretionary funds to specific agencies or entities, or sanctions that reduce or restrict funding by requiring compliance with federal mandates.
In addition, the IACP believes that the question of state, tribal, or local law enforcement's participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by a police chief, working with his or her elected officials, community leaders, and citizens. Because the question of state, tribal, or local law enforcement's participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision, the IACP believes that any legislative proposal to enlist the assistance of nonfederal agencies in immigration enforcement must be based on the completely voluntary cooperation of state/local law enforcement agencies. As a result, the IACP opposes any legislative proposals that seek to coerce cooperation through the use of sanction mechanisms that would withhold federal assistance funds from states or localities. ■