Congresswoman Barbara Lee Proposes Five Amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014

July 18, 2013
Contact: Carrie Adams (202) 225-2661

Washington, D.C.— Yesterday, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) proposed five amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014. The bill funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies. Rep. Lee offered amendments ranging from grants to hire more police officers to stemming gun violence in America to modernizing laws with respect to people living with HIV/AIDS.

First, Congresswoman Lee offered an amendment to increase the amount of grants for the hiring and rehiring of police officers to $235 million, which would facilitate the hiring of 8,310 additional enforcement officers. Congresswoman Lee said“Not only do we need more police officers on our streets, we need more good jobs, and this amendment would have done both. This grant funding would have supported our safety and our economy.” This amendment failed in a roll call vote.

Secondly, Congresswoman Lee offered a sense of Congress to include the following in the bill: “it is the sense of the Congress that the Congress should not pass any legislation which authorizes spending cuts that would increase poverty in the United States.” Rep. Lee said, “47 million people live in poverty, including 17 million children. In the most powerful country on earth, that is unconscionable. Our funding decisions, including this bill, reflect our priorities. We cannot increase poverty, we cannot push the vulnerable aside.” This amendment passed in a voice vote.

Congresswoman Lee also called for repealing the Tiahrt Amendments. The Tiahrt Amendments, which have been included in the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) appropriations legislation since 2004, prohibit access to data on illegal guns, hinder background checks, and limit law enforcement’s efforts to prevent gun violence.“We must treat gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic, and no one would ever stop the Centers for Disease Control from tracking data on heart disease. To solve this problem of gun violence, we need access to vital information, and that’s what this amendment would give us, said Congresswoman Lee. This amendment failed in a roll call vote.

Congresswoman Lee also offered two amendments included in the manager’s amendments to the bill. The first was an amendment that would require the Attorney General to initiate a review of Federal and State laws, policies, and regulations regarding criminal and related civil commitment cases involving people living with HIV/AIDS. “HIV Criminalization laws breed, discrimination, distrust, and hatred. These laws are based on fear, not science. This is an important first step in ensuring that our laws reflect current scientific understandings of HIV," said Congresswoman Lee. This amendment passed on a voice vote as part of the manager’s amendment.

The second manager’s amendment that Congresswoman Lee offered was to recognize the success of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency program in the Office of Justice Programs and to encourage the office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program to develop outreach tools and communication strategies to reach underserved communities in high-need urban and minority neighborhoods. Congresswoman Lee said, “These types of investments in our youth are critical to breaking the cycle of violence and crime by providing young people tools to build productive and prosperous lives.” This amendment passed on a voice vote as part of the manager’s amendment.

For text of the amendments, please follow the links below:

Increase Police Officer Hiring: An amendment to increase funds to hire new law enforcement officer to $235 million, which would provide grants to support the hiring of 8,310 police officers.

Sense of Congress: Not to Increase Poverty: An amendment to insert the following sentence into the bill: “It is the sense of the Congress that the Congress should not pass any legislation which authorizes spending cuts that would increase poverty in the United States.”

Repeal Tiahrt Amendment: An amendment to strike the NRA-supported Tiahrt Amendments.  The Tiahrt Amendments make it harder for law enforcement officers to aggressively pursue criminals who buy and sell illegal guns by restricting access to gun trace data, destroying background check records, and blocking ATF from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory checks to detect loss and theft.

To learn more about the manager’s amendment, read here.