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Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I fully support the effort to restore funding to the COPS Hiring Program.
We should absolutely look for savings and reduce costs in the Federal budget, but we should not be withdrawing support for law enforcement while cities and towns across the country are struggling to maintain their police forces.
A good example is Camden, New Jersey, which was forced by budget shortfalls to lay off 168 police officers last month. The city recently raised property taxes enough to restore about 20 percent of those positions, but law enforcement in the city is still woefully understaffed.
The CR cuts COPS programs by $501 million, including a reduction of $298 million that specifically zeros out the COPS Hiring Program. The elimination of COPS Hiring would result in 1,330 fewer cops hired or rehired in FY11 compared to FY10, or 3,000 fewer cops hired or rehired in FY11 compared to the FY11 request of $600 million.
Camden and many other cities and towns across the country still need Federal assistance to help them get through this difficult economic period, and that is exactly what this amendment is designed to do.
By restoring funding for COPS Hiring grants, Camden and other municipalities across the country could get grants to cover the 3-year cost of rehiring officers they were forced to lay off or of hiring new officers they need but have been unable to afford. After 3 years, when the economy is expected to be in much better shape, these municipalities would be required to take on the costs of these officers.
While I support the gentleman's amendment and strongly believe we should restore funding for the COPS Hiring Program, I am deeply concerned about the offset the amendment relies upon.
NASA's Cross-Agency Support account funds many of the vital efforts of the NASA centers across the country. Currently, there is a backlog of deferred maintenance needs at NASA facilities, and this backlog has been growing at the rate of about 9 percent a year. Cutting funding for this account will only make NASA's maintenance backlog worse and will impede NASA's mission.
We need to fund both NASA's Cross-Agency Support and COPS Hiring at adequate levels, and I hope, by the end of this process, we can find a way to do that.
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