NAPO Washington Reports

Congressional Response to COPS Funding Proposal

January 28, 2013

President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence was initially estimated to cost $500 million. But the package of proposals could provide nearly nine times that much, or $4.5 billion, if the president is able to obtain an additional $4 billion for the Justice Department's COPS program.

Republicans — some of whom have been uneasy about the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program for years — are raising questions about the cost of the proposal as well as its timing, which comes as the GOP is trying to force the administration and Senate Democrats to make deep spending cuts.

Obama first proposed the surge in spending on the COPS program as part of a jobs package he called on Congress to pass in September 2011. NAPO supported this administration proposal. The jobs package went nowhere, but Obama is reviving its proposal for more police spending as part of a broader agenda on gun violence.

Obama and top deputies, including Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder, have highlighted their commitment to the expansion of the COPS program in recent days, such as during the president's radio address Jan. 19. "At a time when many communities have been forced to make cuts to their police force," Obama said, "we should put more cops back on the job and back on the street."

The COPS program is currently funded through the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution at $198.5 million, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Obama's proposal would provide "a one-time injection that would be part of our request for the next fiscal year but not the ongoing request," a White House official said in an email.

The program, created in 1994 under President Bill Clinton, has seen its fortunes rise and fall on Capitol Hill in recent years. Congress provided no funding at all under President George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007, but included $1 billion in the 2009 economic stimulus package that Obama signed into law. NAPO played a major role at that time in making sure that the COPS program would be fully funded by the new administration.