Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GOP Lawmakers Block Bill That Would Fund Bullet-Proof Vests For Female Officers

A program that would open the door for law enforcement agencies to buy bulletproof vests is stuck in an ideological stand off between Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of the bill, requested the Senate on to consider long-delayed legislation to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Grant Partnership Program.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. a long time opponent objected, blocking action on the program, as he did in 2012. Coburn says his reason for blocking the proposal is there are not proposed cuts elsewhere in the budget to offset the costs. Coburn also says the Constitution does not stipulate that the Federal Government has a responsibility in funding local police departments.

The program was funded through the annual appropriations process in the past. The last authorization bill for the vest program expired in 2012.

Leahy's proposal would authorize $105 million for the program from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2018. Leahy said the bill would improve the grant program by giving preference to law enforcement agencies seeking to buy vests for female officers.

The bill has 26 co-sponsors none of which are Republican. 

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