Criminal justice organizations still are hoping that Congress will restore federal funding for many state and local anticrime programs whose federal aid under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program was cut by lawmakers last December. The reductions were put in place after President Bush threatened to veto an omnibus spending bill unless Congress trimmed it. The outlook for a funding increase now is iffy as Congress attempts to adjourn this weekend for election campaigning if an agreement can be reached on the huge bailout bill. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) told the National Journal’s Congress Daily, referring to the plea from criminal justice groups: “They’re not the only ones being short-changed. They are in the same boat as everyone else.”
Yesterday, the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations Coalition praised Senate Democratic leaders for including $490 million for the progam in a pending economic stimulus bill. The coalition noted that Byrne-JAG “provides the only source of federal support for state, regional, and local drug enforcement task forces,” as well as other programs such as drug courts and crime victim assistance. “If Congress is going to bail out Wall Street, they need to also help those on Main Street,” said the organization. The coalition was one of 30 groups signing a letter to Congress backing a restoration of funding.