The Bush administration’s plan to shift federal aid from traditional police programs and toward anti-terrorism measures is running into opposition from a growing “meth caucus” in Congress, the Los Angeles Times reports. The group, which has more than 100 House members, is waging an increasingly effective fight to funnel more money into domestic law enforcement. Last week, the meth caucus defied the White House and GOP congressional leadership by leading the effort to restore $10 million in antidrug funds for police on top of $350 million they won through negotiations. The Bush administration had sought to reduce or eliminate five antidrug programs, for a saving of $1.6 billion, in favor of more money for the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“People are more afraid of a meth lab blowing up than of a plane flying into the state Capitol,” said Iowa drug policy director Marvin Van Haaften. From 1997 to 2003, federal Byrne antidrug grants got $500 million a year. Another program, the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants, also got about $500 million a year until 2001, when the new administration started cutting local aid. Last year, the two programs were combined and cut by 12 percent. The administration’s budget request for 2006 would eliminate both programs. The plan passed by the House would instead cut their budgets 45 percent. The meth caucus warned that the cuts would end regional drug task forces, which helped coordinate communication among police, environmental agencies, and hazardous materials crews.