The Hill: Authors of bipartisan bill to increase police funding call on leadership to schedule vote

THE HILL, MYCHAEL SCHNELL

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is calling on House leadership to schedule a vote as soon as possible on their bill that would increase pay for law enforcement officers and assist police departments in expanding officer ranks.

The letter comes days after the U.S. saw a string of shootings over the weekend that claimed the lives of more than 10 people.

Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Tom Rice (R-S.C.) penned a letter to top House members on Monday asking that a vote be scheduled for their bill, called the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act.

The legislation would reauthorize the COPS on the Beat program for 10 years and expand eligibility to allow rural communities to receive grants.

The bill also calls for boosting the wages of career law enforcement officers if they meet specific qualifications and would help local police departments enlist more officers.

According to the sponsors, the legislation would increase federal funding for the program by more than double.

Spanberger and Rice in their letter asked for a vote to be held on the bill “as soon as possible to invest in local police departments to promote safe communities and strengthen relationships between our officers and the communities they serve.”

“Police departments cannot effectively answer the immense and diverse needs of their communities without sufficient funding. Therefore, we must urgently vote to increase funding for local departments and strengthen federal efforts on community-oriented policing,” they added.

The letter was addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Spanberger and Rice said the bill was written “in direct response to the needs of national, state, and local law enforcement stakeholders and labor unions” and has the backing of a number of groups.

The push comes as President Biden is set to travel to Buffalo, N.Y., where a gunman opened fire at a grocery store, killing 10. In Laguna Woods, Calif., one person died in a church shooting over the weekend.

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