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Congressman Yarmuth Calls on Budget Committee Chairman to Restore Critical First Responder Funding

Programs with Proposed Cuts are Vital to Louisville Law Enforcement, Security

(Washington, DC) In a letter to Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt and Ranking Member Paul Ryan, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) pushed for the restoration of funding to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), Assistance to Firefighter Grants, and Juvenile Justice Funding.  The President has proposed drastically cutting all three programs.

"The massive cuts in the President's budget are shortsighted and dangerous," Congressman Yarmuth said.  "A failure to fully fund these programs would seriously jeopardize the safety and security of Louisville's first responders and the families they protect."

The text of the letter is below:

      March 19, 2007

      The Honorable John Spratt
      Chairman, House Committee on the Budget
      Room 207 Cannon House Office Building
      Washington, DC 20515-6065

      The Honorable Paul Ryan
      Ranking Member, Committee on the Budget
      B71 Cannon House Office Building
      Washington, DC 20515-6065

      Dear Chairman Spratt and Ranking Member Ryan:

      America's law enforcement officials and firefighters encompass the foundation of our nation's security.  Communities across the country are protected by a cadre of federal programs that serve to help train local and state first responders and keep our children safe.   The President's 2008 Budget proposes severely cutting funding from these essential programs, and as you develop a Fiscal Year 2008 budget resolution, I urge you to restore this crucial funding.

      Specifically, I urge you to reject the following Administration cuts:
  • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), slashed by 94 percent - from $542 million in FY 2007 to $32 million in FY 2008;
  • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), a cut of $170 million, nearly 50 percent below the 2007 level;
  • Juvenile Justice funding reduced by $82 million, 25 percent;
  • Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) drastically cut by 55 percent - from $662 million to $300 million.

      The COPS program has put more local police officers on the streets and helped Kentucky communities move to interoperable communications systems for faster and more efficient protection.  Byrne-JAG grants have supported local Kentucky drug task forces, community crime prevention programs, and substance abuse treatments for almost 40 years.   Juvenile Justice funding provides grants to communities to reduce delinquency and to prevent sexual exploitation. AFG provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and Emergency Medical Services organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related needs.

      This funding is vitally important to Kentucky's first responders.   These brave men and women already put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe and secure and at a time when we are asking these to do even more, the federal government must uphold its end of the bargain by ensuring that they have the resources they need.

      While I certainly recognize that the nation faces a difficult budget situation, it is critical to ensure that these funds are restored. Past funding levels have helped to successfully prepare thousands of firefighters and law enforcement officials maintain healthy and safe communities.  I look forward to working with you to ensure that we adopt a budget that makes needed investments in these important programs.   I appreciate your attention to this request, and hope I can count on your support.

John Yarmuth
Member of Congress