Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

House Passes Pascrell Amendment to Fund COPS Hiring Program

Sep 12, 2017
Press Release
House Proposal Would Have Zeroed Out Funding to Assist with Law Enforcement Officers Staffing

House Passes Pascrell Amendment to Fund COPS Hiring Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment introduced by U.S. Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA), co-chairs of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, to include $100 million in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program in the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. 

"As local police departments face increasing budget constraints, we need to ensure the safety of our communities does not suffer and our first responders have every resource available to them," said Rep. Pascrell. "Despite its importance to our communities, the COPS program continues to be a frequent target for cuts. We do this dance every year, but no one seems to learn their lesson – because here we are again with a bill that zeroes out funding for the program. I'll continue to fight to ensure this program is well-funded so it can remain a cornerstone of the federal government’s efforts to assist state and local law enforcement."

The COPS Office and its corresponding programs provide invaluable resources and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies in an effort to keep our communities safe.  Since its inception, the COPS office has placed over 129,000 sworn law enforcement officers in communities across the country by providing grants for the hiring of officers. These grants are critical for communities with public safety needs that may lack the resources to hire the officers they need to protect their citizens.

The Pascrell amendment had support from national Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.

In a letter to Rep. Pascrell, William J. Johnson, Esq., Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations, representing more than 1,000 police units and associations and 241,000 sworn law enforcement officers, wrote, “NAPO is very concerned that H.R. 3354 does not provide funding for the COPS Hiring Program … The Pascrell/Reichert Amendment #109 rights this wrong by providing necessary funding to the COPS Hiring Program. As major cities across the country are facing an increase in violent crime for the first time in years and community-police relations are strained, now is not the time to put additional stresses on state and local police forces by leaving them short-handed.

The underlying legislation zeroed out funding for COPS hiring, despite the Administration and the Senate both proposing $207 million in their budget proposals.

The full floor statement from Rep. Pascrell can be found below:

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to once again highlight the hypocrisy of Republicans claiming to be the party of “law and order.” Because, once again, the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill before us has zeroed out funding for the COPS Hiring Program. This critical program provides federal grants to local police departments for the hiring and retention of police officers.

Despite the fact that this vital program helps ensure that we have enough cops on the beat in our communities, the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bills have cut or eliminated funding for the COPS Hiring Program since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

So, every year Representative Dave Reichert and I, as co-chairs of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, come to the floor to offer an amendment to shift funding back to the COPS Hiring Program to show support for local police hiring programs. We do this dance every year, but no one seems to learn their lesson – because here we are again with a bill that zeroes out funding for the program.

Our amendments pass with overwhelming support, often by voice vote. The Senate sees this strong support and ends up funding the program in the final appropriations package for the year. In fact, both the Senate and President have proposed funding COPS at $207 million. Typically, we have regular order in the House when considering appropriations bills. That means we would have had an open rule to allow us to offer any amendment to shift funds in this bill. However, that is not the case this year. Our dance with the Appropriations Committee would have continued this year, but the Rules Committee prevented my substantive amendment to boost funding for the COPS Hiring Program from moving forward.

This amendment enjoyed the support of many law enforcement organizations, including the Major County Sheriffs Association. They were “dismayed” at the decision to eliminate the COPS Hiring Program.

The amendment before us enjoys the support of law enforcement organizations, such as National Association of Police Organizations and the Fraternal Order of Police. In their letter of support NAPO wrote, they are “very concerned that H.R. 3354 does not provide funding for the COPS Hiring Program.” The FOP writes, “we must continue to fund the COPS hiring program” if we are “serious about stemming the rise in crime and remain committed to the community policing strategy.”

Hiding behind procedural shenanigans to dodge support for our nation’s law enforcement officers while still claiming to be the party of “law and order” is shameful.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too!

In closing, I want all my colleagues to reflect on how one can claim support for law enforcement officers while at the same time cutting the resources need to hire the brave men and women who keep neighborhoods safe. I do not know the answer to that question.

But I do know that during this year’s National Police Week – a week where we honor the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving in the line of duty – my friend, the Chairman of the Subcommittee, stood on the House floor and said, “As the chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee it is and continues to be my top priority to ensure that our law enforcement officers have the resources they need to protect our communities and to protect themselves.”

Thank you.

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