The Biden administration on Monday talked up its spending proposals targeting crime, as officials rolled out the president’s proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year.
“The budget invests in security both at home and abroad. Here at home, it includes critical investments to keep our communities safe, fund crime prevention and community-violence intervention, put more cops on the beat for community policing, fight gun violence and advance criminal-justice reform,” said Shalanda Young, the director of the White House’s budget office, during a call with reporters.
The plans for police-related spending come as U.S. cities have faced a sustained surge in murders. Republicans see crime as a winning issue in the upcoming midterm elections, and they have made an effort to portray Biden and his fellow Democrats as being “soft on crime.”
The White House said in a statement that Biden’s budget plan aims to put more police officers on beats by providing $3.2 billion for state and local grants and $30 billion to “support law enforcement, crime prevention and community violence intervention.”
There’s also $1.7 billion to provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with “more tools to tackle gun violence,” the White House said. That would include expanding gun trafficking strike forces and modernizing a center that traces firearms associated with crimes.
In addition, the Justice Department would get $367 million, an increase of $101 million over the 2021 enacted level, to support police reform, the prosecution of hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights and efforts to provide equitable access to justice. And the budget plan features $100 million for workforce development services to people in the federal prison system, along with $106 million to support the deployment of body cameras for DOJ’s law enforcement officers.
In his State of the Union address earlier this month, Biden had addressed money for law enforcement, saying: “The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police.”
Meanwhile, Republican rhetoric on crime was a big part of this month’s Senate confirmation hearing for Biden’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
“We are in the midst of a national violent crime wave and exploding illegal immigration,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a floor speech on Thursday. “Unbelievably, the Biden administration has nevertheless launched a national campaign to make the federal bench systematically softer on crime.”