The House of Representatives yesterday defied President Bush and passed an appropriations bill that includes $2.6 billion for state and local law crime-fighting initiatives, more than twice what the White House had requested. The House budgeted $633 million for the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) program to help states and localities. The Bush administration had called for eliminating the program. Because the Senate has been even more receptive to federal anticrime aid in recent years, backers are optimistic about a favorable outcome when appropriations are finalized for the federal fiscal year that begins October 1.
Congress is “getting the message that this funding is important, with crime spiking in many areas,” said Cabell Cropper of the National Criminal Justice Association, which represents state anticrime agencies. Fifteen organizations had told Congress that the federal funding had been effective in such areas as seizing crime weapons, closing methamphetamine labs, and removing “massive quantities of narcotics” from the streets. The groups include the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys’ Association, the Naitonal Association of Counties, and the American Probation and Parole Association.