Conyers: House GOP Budget Bill Will Cost Jobs, Safety, and Civil Liberties
(Washington)—Late last night, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a budget proposal (H.R. 1) that will make immediate and drastic cuts to the Justice Department, Homeland Security Department, and other federal agencies.
Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement regarding the proposal:
These mindless budget cuts proposed by the House Republicans will hurt jobs, undermine public safety and law enforcement, and restrict fundamental civil liberties. The same party, that held unemployment benefits hostage to procure hundreds of billions of dollars in extended tax cuts for the wealthy last year, is now threatening a government-wide shutdown, unless they can take jobs from essential law enforcement officers. Instead of making common sense and equitable changes to the budget, House Republicans are taking a meat axe to public safety and jobs.
Below is a preliminary summary of the funding decreases to areas of the federal budget that are within the Judiciary Committee's purview (dollar references show the amounts less than the administration's requested 2011 budget):
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
Funding Decrease: $600 Million/Complete Elimination of Hiring Program
COPS has funded the hiring of more than 122,000 state and local police officers and sheriff's deputies in communities across America. The Republican funding cut means that 3,000 fewer officers will be hired or rehired to be on the streets of our neighborhoods.
Funding Decrease: $83 Million
The Republican funding cut will delay construction of badly needed training facilities at the FBI Academy in Quantico. This will impact the FBI’s effort to update and strengthen training for agents and intelligence analysts to maintain the fight against terrorism, sexual exploitation of children, drugs and other major threats to the U.S. from foreign and domestic sources.
Violence Against Women Act, Victims of Crime Act, and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (VAWA)
Funding Decrease: $26.5 Million
VAWA programs support victims of domestic and sexual violence. It also has saved $14.8 billion in its first 6 years. If the Republican funding cut tracks FY 2008 levels, VAWA programs would lose an estimated $170 million. Any cuts to these critical programs would undermine law enforcement and victim protection services.
General Legal Activities
Funding Decrease: $111.3 Million
DOJ’s principal divisions, including the Civil Rights Division, the Antitrust Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Civil Division are funded under the category of general legal activities. The Civil Rights Division, which was chronically underfunded by the Bush administration, will have to play a critical role with respect to how states and localities redraw their district lines following the decennial Census. As required under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice will have to “pre–clear” all voting changes. The Civil Rights Division is expecting more than 800 submissions this year and next. The Republican budget cut will generally undermine the ability of these divisions to protect the civil rights and interests of all Americans.
Various State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Programs
Funding Decrease: $525 Million
These reductions eliminate or essentially gut proven crime prevention and crime reduction programs that localities have used to keep crime rates down. The inevitable result of these cuts will be increased crime and victimizations, more unemployment and more resulting expenditures than these cuts save in federal, state and local law enforcement activities, imprisonments and other costs.
National Drug Intelligence Center
Funding Decrease: $10.6 Million
The Center plays a major role in the fight against international and national illegal drug proliferation. The Republican funding cut will force the Center to furlough valuable employees, which will harm the Center’s ability to fight the war on illegal drugs.
Law Enforcement Wireless Communications
Funding Decrease: $71.6 Million
This program provides critical support to law enforcement officers and agents in major metropolitan areas across the nation in responding to terrorist attacks or other catastrophic incidents. The Republican funding cut will reduce by more than half the money used by the program to eliminate interoperability issues with wireless communications, thereby jeopardizing officer and public safety and the safety of millions of Americans.
U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)
Funding Decrease: $9.7 Million
The USMS is responsible for protecting judges which is critically important in light of recent threats to federal judges. The USMS also secures courthouse detention facilities that hold defendants accused of drug, gun and immigration crimes. The Republican funding cut will delay and possibly eliminate over $100 million in needed upgrades in security and construction of courthouse detention areas and facilities, the impact of which will be most acutely felt on the Southwest Border.
Funding Decrease: $613 Million
The Republican cut will force the federal courts to lay off more than 200 support staff and to stop payments to attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants, which may raise constitutional concerns about the availability of adequate criminal defense services. These cuts undermine public safety and the effective administration of justice at a time when criminal caseloads and the workloads of probation and pretrial services offices have reached an all-time high.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) AND DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DHS: Customs and Border Protection – Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology
Funding Decrease: $124.2 Million
Republicans cut crucial border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology funding, which is essential to ensuring the safety of the American public, as it is used to design, build, and deploy border barriers, necessary infrastructure, and advanced technologies that support enforcement activities on our borders. The proposed cuts will severely jeopardize the administration’s plan to increase the use of technologies that have proven effective in securing our border. Such technologies include mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging devices, ultra-light detection, backscatter units, mobile radios, cameras and laptops for pursuit vehicles, and remote video surveillance system enhancements.
DHS: Customs and Border Protection - Construction & Facilities Management and Automation Modernization
Funding Decrease: $40.7 Million
CBP protects our nation’s borders and helps facilitate trade and travel that are vital to our country. The Republican cut to this agency’s construction and management programs would set back efforts to build needed Border Patrol stations and forward operating bases, and to modernize our severely outdated land ports of entry.
DHS: Federal Emergency Management Agency – State and Local Programs
Funding Decrease: $150 Million
The Republican proposal cuts funds for a DHS program designed to address the Nation’s Southwest border security needs. This program funds Operation Stonegarden, which provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance their abilities to assist in securing our U.S. borders and territories. Because funds are used to hire additional law enforcement personnel, cuts to this program will make our border and border communities less secure, inhibit the ability of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to make additional hires, and add to the financial burdens already disproportionately borne by states and localities.
Department of State – Diplomatic and Consular Programs
Funding Decrease: $1.2 Billion
Republicans proposal to cut the State Department’s budget for diplomatic and consular programs will jeopardize critical functions such as visa processing and fraud detection, which are the front lines in preventing terrorists and other dangerous persons from entering the United States. The cut would impair promotion of legitimate travel to the United States, which is crucial for the tourism industry and the millions of jobs that industry supports. The cuts would directly impact visa services in the fastest growing markets for inbound U.S. tourism, affecting the Department’s ability to meet growing visa demand and resulting in loss of revenue to the U.S. economy.
OTHER AGENCIES AND PROGRAMS
Legal Services Corporation (LSC)
Funding Decrease: $85 Million
LSC provides grants to support access to justice to our fellow Americans in need. The Republican cut would reduce LSC’s funding by nearly 20%, which will result in a layoff of at least 370 staff attorneys in local programs, closure of many rural offices, and less civil access to justice for 161,000 Americans who will go without the services of an attorney. This includes women seeking safety for themselves and their children from domestic violence, veterans returning to civilian life without a job, and senior citizens trying to save their homes from foreclosure.
Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS)
Funding Decrease: $1.7 Million
ACUS is a recently established independent agency designed to save millions in taxpayer dollars by recommending ways to improve and streamline the regulatory and rulemaking process. Even though Republicans claim they support the same goals, the Republican funding cut will gut ACUS. It will cut ACUS’s funding by 53%, which will result in freezing all research grants and causing staff cuts and furloughs.
United States Patent Office (USPTO)
Funding Decrease: $400 Million
The USPTO examines and approves applications for patents on claimed inventions and administers the registration of trademarks. It also aids in the protection of American intellectual property internationally. The USPTO is fully funded by user fees paid by customers. The Republican funding plan limits USPTO to 2010 user fee projected levels, which will deprive the overburdened patent office of approximately $200 million it collects in fees, and an additional $200 million from a fee surcharge and supplemental amount in the 2011 budget. This will exacerbate the over 700 thousand application backlog the USPTO currently faces, prevent needed upgrades in technology to insure quality patents, and freeze hiring of additional examiners. Many of the improvements recently initiated to increase efficiency and decrease backlog will have to be abandoned. Of the 700 thousand patents pending, many are in the health related field or involve technological advancement. The proposed cut will stymie private sector patent reliant industries, undercut job growth and creation and further delay the development of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals, as well as other technological improvements.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Funding Decrease: $1.6 million
Established on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, the purpose of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is to establish a watchdog group within the Executive Office of the president to help maintain an appropriate balance between national security and civil liberties.
Periodic Census and Programs
Funding Decrease: $72.9 million
The Census Bureau is in the process of completing the decennial census as required by the Constitution. The results of the census will be used to enforce the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the constitutional doctrine of “one person, one vote.” Curtailing the work of the Census at this moment would be injurious to the protection of the right to vote.
Election Assistance Commission and Federal Election Commission
Funding Decrease: $6 Million
These commissions safeguard the election process, promote transparency, fight corruption, and protect our citizen’s right to vote. The Republican budget cut undermines this critical process and fundamental right.
Family Planning Title X
Funding Decrease: $317 Million
Title X is the nation's cornerstone family–planning program for low-income women. Currently, this program receives $317 million. The continuing resolution would eliminate all funding for this essential program.
Reinstatement of Global Gag Rule
H.R. 1 would reinstate the global gag rule that bars USAID funds from overseas health centers unless they agreed not to use their own, non-U.S. funds for abortion services. President Obama repealed this harmful Bush-era policy during his first week in office, after eight years during which thousands of women and families in need of public-health services were turned away from underfunded clinics.
H.R. 1 also contains various restrictive riders, including:
- a restriction on court review of regulations intended to protect endangered grey wolves;
- a restriction on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases and clean water;
- a restriction that forbids the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States for prosecution