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Pascrell Endorses Strong Law Enforcement, Fire Support in Biden Budget

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the longtime co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus and co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus this afternoon praised the strong support for law enforcements agencies and firefighters in President Biden’s just-unveiled new budget framework. Every year, Rep. Pascrell leads a bipartisan coalition of his colleagues demanding the strongest possible funding for federal policing and fire services grants.

“This budget from President Biden reflects a forward-looking dedication to supporting our first responders and keeping our communities safe,” said Rep. Pascrell, the co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus. “By more than doubling funding for the COPS Hiring Program, local law enforcement agencies would have the resources they desperately need to meet hiring goals to advance proven community policing methods. And as communities coast to coast contend with a worsening plague of gun violence, I’m especially glad to see the President propose more funding for the ATF than ever before to hire over 300 new agents to crack down on firearms trafficking and get illegal guns off our streets. Fighting crime demands smart investment in public safety and President Biden’s budget literally funds our police.”

As co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Pascrell also praised new strong support for firefighters: “Throughout the pandemic, our firefighters and first responders have moved heaven and earth to keep our communities safe. This new budget rewards their bravery and conviction with needed support to help them do their jobs and provides support for waiving some burdensome requirements for certain municipalities. Within our caucus, we will work hard to see America’s fire services get every nickel they need in this budget process.”

Some law enforcement budget highlights

Byrne Justice Assistance (Byrne JAG) grants: $533.5 million for the Byrne JAG program, which would be an increase of $43.8 million above FY22.

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring grants: $537 million for the COPS Hiring Program, which would be an increase of $291 million above FY22.

Bulletproof vests: $30 million for the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP), which is equal to FY22 and the fully authorized amount. Rep. Pascrell led legislation signed into law in 2019 to permanently authorize BVP grants.

DOJ discretionary spending: The budget includes a total of $20.6 billion for Department of Justice discretionary spending on federal law enforcement, crime prevention, and intervention in FY23. Overall, this represents a $2 billion increase above FY22, and includes $1.7 billion for the ATF, which would be an increase of $169 million above FY22.

  • New agents: This funding will be used to hire 140 new agents, intel analysts, and other personnel to enforce our gun laws and crack down on significant firearms trafficking corridors.
  • New investigators: This funding would also be used to hire 160 new investigators to help ensure that Federal Firearms Licensees and manufacturers comply with the law.
  • Upgraded tracing: Finally, the funding would allow for a 40% increase in funding for the National Tracing Center, which will be used to upgrade technology and hire additional personnel. Rep. Pascrell leads the Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act to finally allow the National Tracing Center to electronically search for the records of guns used in crimes when requested by state and local law enforcement.

Assistance to Firefighter (AFG) grants: $370 million for AFG, which would be an increase of $10 million above FY22. The AFG program was created by Rep. Pascrell’s FIRE Act, signed into law in 2000. Last year, Rep. Pascrell joined firefighters, union leaders, and elected officials to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the AFG program, which has provided over $9.25 billion to fire departments nationwide.  

Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response (SAFER) grants for hiring firefighters: $370 million for SAFER, which would be an increase of $10 million above FY22. This includes language championed by Rep. Pascrell allowing Secretary of DHS to grant waivers to enable departments to use grants for firefighter retention in addition to hiring.

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