The president's budget proposal offers both winners and losers for the Justice Department, but those differences are already stirring criticism from the Democratic Congress. The proposal for the department would cut the overall budget from last year by about $355 million, with aid to local law enforcement and to other grant programs bearing the brunt of the belt tightening.
But the cuts will not affect the National Security Division, which would see a boost of about $10 million in the president's budget. While few would contest the importance of national security work, many in Congress expressed outrage at the cuts.
"This budget is harmful to the American people, law enforcement, and our nation's priorities," Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. "While spending lavishly on the war in Iraq, the president continues to shortchange the needs of our communities."
Among the affected programs is the community-oriented policing program, a Clinton-era initiative known by the acronym COPS that some credit with helping to reduce national crime rates. Its funding, which was $587 million this year, is wiped out in the plan. The weed-and-seed program, an antidrug and antigang policing effort, would drop about $10 million. And the Office on Violence Against Women's budget of $400 million last year would be cut nearly a third, to $280 million. The president's budget also proposes cutting the Legal Services Corporation $40 million below the approximately $350 million appropriated by Congress last year.