Senator Seeks Federal Money for Local Police

Congress is hoping to bring back hundreds of millions in federal funding for local law enforcement slashed from this year's appropriations bill, a Senate staffer told the U.S. Conference of Mayors during its annual conference in Washington today.

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Congress is hoping to bring back hundreds of millions in federal funding for local law enforcement slashed from this year's appropriations bill, a Senate staffer told the U.S. Conference of Mayors during its annual conference in Washington today.

Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, plans to restore this year's federal law enforcement aid to the initial allocation of $600 million in the supplemental appropriations bill, expected to move through Congress in late February or early March, Daniel Goldberg, Harkin's counsel, told the group of several dozen mayors. Without it, "the cuts will have a devastating impact on criminal justice," he said, adding that Harkin had already secured bipartisan support from Missouri Republican Sen. Kit Bond.

Both houses of Congress had appropriated more than $600 million to two federal grant programs—one to fight drug trafficking and another to increase law enforcement personnel—in last fall's Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill. But after President Bush threatened to veto the bills if domestic spending was not cut to make room for Iraq war funding, Congress slashed the budget. What that meant is that cities and states across the country will receive $350 million less—just $170 million—for local law enforcement in fiscal 2008.

Harkin's proposal would add an additional $490 million to the federal funding for law enforcement. But, Goldberg implored the mayors, the senator needs their help to ensure that the proposal goes through.

—Emma Schwartz