Congressional budget-cutting could handcuff the federal grants now filling law enforcement coffers, McClatchy Newspapers report. For politicians, this means dicey choices ahead. Yesterday, underscoring the real-world stakes, Justice Department officials announced a $25 million grant for California from a federal law enforcement program that some in Congress want to cut. A separate law enforcement grant program beloved by California police chiefs and sheriffs was slated for elimination altogether by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee.
Taken together, the two vulnerable grant programs pose a political dilemma that is perhaps most pronounced for conservatives who must choose between two alluring priorities: Saving money, or siding with cops. “It’s not a tough choice for me,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA). “I think it’s absolutely irresponsible for members of Congress to cut law enforcement funding.” Even program skeptics acknowledge lawmakers may ultimately avoid dramatic funding cuts that can be cast as soft-on-crime. “I’d expect some of the money to be restored, because most members have not given up their addiction to pork,” said David Muhlhausen of the Heritage Foundation. The funding announced this week come from the Edward Byrne Memorial grant program. Nationwide, the Byrne grant program provides about half-a-billion dollars annually. California’s share in 2009 was $54 million.