Recent Press Releases

Thune Introduces Indian Country Law Enforcement Amendment to Spending Bill

--Would Prioritize Funding Toward Most Critical Needs--

March 3, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus bill that would redirect $400 million from the Edward Byrne Formula Grant Program to the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. The Byrne law enforcement grants program recently received a $2 billion funding boost as part of the Economic Stimulus bill signed into law a few weeks ago.

Last summer, Senator Thune introduced an amendment to a $50 billion foreign assistance bill that created the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. The Fund is authorized to spend $2 billion over the next five years for critical public safety, health care, and water needs in Indian Country.

"We saw what a difference additional resources made when the Bureau of Indian Affairs dramatically increased the number of law enforcement officials on the Standing Rock Reservation during the surge," said Thune. "Due to that experience last year I amended the President's Foreign Aid bill to redirect some of that authority to addressing critical needs on our reservations in this country. This amendment continues those efforts by redirecting money from a grant program that received significant additional funding in the stimulus bill and allocates it toward needs that have not been adequately addressed for years."

The Omnibus spending bill, which encompasses nine annual spending measures that were not acted on by the Senate last year, calls for $532 million for Byrne grants in addition to the $2 billion it received from the stimulus bill. This is over 13.5 times more than the program received last year and is double the amount that the program has received in the last three years combined. The $2.532 billion the program would receive under the Omnibus spending bill would be more than 1.2 times its authorized level.

In 2008, South Dakota received $373,273 from the Byrne grants program.

"Since this Omnibus Appropriation bill was put together behind closed doors, not to mention the fact that none of the nine appropriation measures were ever voted on in the Senate, I believe my amendment is a common sense proposal to ensure that we allocate tax dollars where they are needed the most," said Thune.

Senator Thune has been a longtime advocate of the Byrne grants program which is a formula based grant program that provides funds to state and local law enforcement organizations for law enforcement needs.