Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

NLC's Leaders Push Advocacy Agenda around Washington

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

NLC's Leaders Push Advocacy Agenda around Washington

Article excerpt

The NLC leadership team urged key Congressional leaders and the administration to protect funding for critical local programs while maximizing federal resources going directly to local governments for the new "first responder" initiative.

In a series of meetings before and after the Congressional City Conference, the NLC Officers urged support for two successful federal programs that support local public safety efforts -- the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) program.

Both programs are virtually eliminated in President Bush's proposed budget.

Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs and one of the original architects of the COPS program, pledged to do everything in his power to restore funding for and extend the COPS program because it works."

Biden said he hoped to hold a hearing on reauthorization of the COPS program in the near future and would seek NLC leadership participation in that hearing.

Representative C. W. Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, was non-committal on the future of COPS funding.

He said his ability to shift money back into programs cut in the Bush budget in FY 2003 depends, to some extent, on whether some of the homeland security needs can be shifted to a supplemental budget request that is expected later this month.

"We're at war," Young said. "And when you're at war, you don't take money out of the defense accounts."

Young also emphasized the important role city officials play in homeland defense. "You have an enormous responsibility on the front line of this effort," Young said. "I understand the value of local responsibility, and I recognize that you know more about your needs than we do in Washington."

At the same time, Young held firm on distributing homeland security funds to cities through the states with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) responsible for administering the program. …

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