Also Thursday, the House panel rejected 20-26 a Barbara Lee, D-Calif., amendment to reverse much of the bill’s proposed cut to community policing grants.
The spending measure would provide the Justice Department with $27.8 billion, a $383 million increase from current funding. But it would cut funding for DOJ grant programs, including a sharp reduction for Community Oriented Policing Services hiring grants used to hire or retain local police officers.
The bill would provide $70 million, or less than half of the $180 million appropriated for the current fiscal year. Lee’s amendment would have bumped that total up to $177 million.
Lee also offered, but later withdrew, a proposal to boost the bill’s $63 million funding level for grants given to states and localities under the 2008 Second Chance Act (PL 110-199) to help pay for programs that help inmates successfully transition out of incarceration and avoid returning to prison.
“If we are serious about reducing our prison population [and] reducing our spending on mass incarceration ... then we must also invest in reentry programs that have been proven to lower the unacceptable recidivism rate. And that’s exactly what the Second Chance Act does,” said Lee.
Her amendment would have increased the funding level by $35 million to a total of $98 million. The Obama administration requested $115 million for the program.
Lee said Thursday she hoped to work to “find additional resources for this important program” as the bill moves forward.
On another perennial point of contention, the panel rejected by voice vote a Moran amendment to strike language that withholds funds for transferring Guantánamo Bay detainees to the United States.
Commerce and Science Funding
The measure would provide $8.4 billion for the Commerce Department, a $171 million increase above currently enacted levels. Within that agency, House appropriators would keep funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “virtually equal” to fiscal 2014 at $5.3 billion, according to the committee, while emphasizing spending on weather forecasting and warning systems.
“Simply put: these investments save lives. They saved lives in Arkansas and Mississippi, and they will save lives wherever the next severe weather event strikes,” said C-J-S subcommittee Chairman Frank R. Wolf, R-Va.
Despite the relatively flat funding for NOAA, some of the committee’s top Democrats slammed GOP cuts to the agency’s programs outside of weather forecasting, particularly a 24 percent reduction to the climate research account.
“We should be investing in research to combat the threat of climate change, not sticking our heads in the sand, pretending the science is wrong because combating such an obstacle would be too costly and inconvenient,” said Lowey.
Also within the Commerce Department, the fiscal 2015 spending bill would boost funding for the Census Bureau by nearly 16 percent to $1.1 billion in order to prepare for the next decennial census.
The measure would expand on recent increases for space exploration, setting aside $17.9 billion for NASA, which consumes the largest share of the measure’s science funding, a $237 million boost from fiscal 2014. It would also fund the National Science Foundation at a record-high level of $7.4 billion, according to Wolf.
Rep. David E. Price, D-N.C., introduced but later withdrew an amendment that would have increased funding for the National Science Foundation by $659.2 million. Price said that funding for basic scientific research has eroded in recent years.