Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley: Congress Should Restore Funding for Byrne/JAG Grants

Apr 02, 2008


Grassley: Congress Should Restore Funding for Byrne/JAG Grants


           WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has joined several colleagues in support of restoring funding to the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne/JAG). 

 

In a letter sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, 56 Senators asked that $489.6 million for the Byrne/JAG grant program be included in any supplemental appropriations bill that comes before the Senate.  This amount would restore Byrne/JAG funding to the previously approved level of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill for fiscal 2008.

 

The funding was cut from the program during Senate leadership negotiations of the Omnibus Appropriations bill.  The bill was then brought to the Senate floor under special circumstances so Senators were not able to amend the bill to restore the money for Byrne/JAG grants.

 

“I’ve heard from Iowans across the state at my town meetings and through letters and phone calls to my office.  This is an important program that has provided local law enforcement needed support to address crime and drugs at the grassroots,” Grassley said. “If this funding isn’t restored, we run the risk of losing ground gained by multi-jurisdictional drug task forces across the state.  We need to provide the necessary tools to our state and local partners to keep the heat on drug dealers and criminals.” 

 

The Senators wrote that Byrne/JAG dollars fund more than 4,000 police officers and prosecutors working on more than 750 drug enforcement task forces in 50 states.  In Iowa, it’s expected that the 70 percent cut to the Byrne/JAG funding would eliminate grants for 14 drug control programs and would cut 39 full time law enforcement jobs, 23 of which are drug task force officers. 

 

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.

 

March 31, 2008

 

The Honorable Robert Byrd

 

Chairman

 

Committee on Appropriations

 

United States Senate

 

Washington, DC 20510

 

 

The Honorable Thad Cochran

 

Ranking Member

 

Committee on Appropriations

 

United States Senate

 

Washington, DC 20510

 

 

Dear Chairman Byrd and Senator Cochran:

 

 

Restoration of severe cuts made to the Edward Byrne Justice Grant (Byrne/JAG) program through last year's omnibus appropriations bill is vital to avoid law enforcement layoffs and suspension of hundreds of anti-drug, gang and violent offender efforts across the country.

 

Therefore, we respectfully request that you provide $489.6 million for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program in any Supplemental Appropriations bill that comes before the Senate. This addition would restore Byrne/JAG funding to the same level previously approved by the Senate in the Commerce-Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008 (FY 2008).

 

 

The Byrne Formula Grant Program is a tried and tested program that has served us well for more than two decades. The program's broad-based support was verified in the Senate's passage last year of S.231, the Feinstein-Chambliss Byrne/JAG Reauthorization Act, which would extend this $1.095 bill authorization through 2012. The bill received 52 co-sponsors and passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

 

 

As you know, the Senate-approved CJS Appropriations bill for FY2008 would have funded Byrne/JAG at $660 million. Following a veto threat, however, difficult choices had to be made in conference, and in the Omnibus Appropriations bill that ultimately passed, Byrne/JAG funding for FY2008 was reduced to only $170.4 million. This figure represented more than a 2/3 drop from Byrne/JAG's actual appropriated levels in FY2007.

 

 

In the wake of these drastic cuts, various law enforcement agencies, as well as numerous police and sheriff’s offices, have notified us that these FY2008 Byrne/JAG cuts will have a devastating effect on law enforcement, forcing them to possibly close multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, and negatively affecting a variety of other crime control programs.

 

Particularly at a time when a risk of adverse economic conditions may lead to increased crime, it is vitally important that we support our nation's finest in their efforts on the front lines, where they risk their lives daily keeping Americans safe.

 

 

Unless these Byrne/JAG funds are restored promptly, law enforcement agencies may be forced to dismantle multi-jurisdiction task forces that often took years to create and develop.

 

And individual officers serving on those task force members will face a loss of income or even their jobs, some of which have been held for years.

 

 

Each year, Byrne/JAG dollars fund over 4,000 police officers and prosecutors working on over 750 drug enforcement task forces in all 50 states across hundreds of urban and rural counties and cities. On an annual basis, Byrne/JAG funding leads to over 220,000 arrests,

 

54,000 weapons seized, the seizure of 5.5 million grams of methamphetamine, and the breakup of almost 9,000 methamphetamine labs. These successes show that we need to continue what we are doing, not cut back.

 

 

Funding for Byrne/JAG, at its $1.095 billion authorized level, has long been supported by

 

America's leading law enforcement organizations, including the National Narcotic Officers'

 

Associations' Coalition, National Sheriffs' Association, National Association of Counties,

 

National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Legal Action Center, National District Attorneys' Association, National HIDTA Directors Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major County Sheriffs Association, National Criminal Justice Association, National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, Major City Chiefs Association, National Troopers Coalition, State Association of Addiction Services, the National Crime Prevention Council and the Fraternal Order of Police.

 

 

There is strong bipartisan support for the Byrne/JAG Program, and we urge you to provide this critically needed funding in any supplemental appropriations bill that comes before the Senate this year.

 

 

Sincerely,