CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the House will consider S.125, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. S. 125 was introduced on January 8, 2015, by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reported the bill without amendment. The bill then passed the Senate with an amendment on May 6, 2015 by voice vote.
S.125 amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to extend the authorization of appropriations for the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program through FY 2020. Specifically, applicable grantees under the Act that use appropriated funds to purchase an armor vest or body armor are required to comply with any requirements for the use of Program grants, which include having a written policy requiring uniformed patrol officers to wear such protective gear and only using the funds to purchase protective equipment that meet the performance standards established by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Additionally, state, local, and tribal government are prohibited from using any funding granted under another program to pay for, or defer, the cost of the matching fund requirement for this Program. Lastly, this legislation requires all appropriated funds for this Program for FY 2016-2020 that are not obligated for use on or before December 31, 2022 to be transferred to the Treasury, no later than January 31, 2023.
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 established the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) under the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as an initiative designed to provide a critical resource, in the form of body armor, to state and local law enforcement personnel. Since 1999, the BVP program has awarded a total of $393 million in federal funds for the purchase of over one million vests in more than 13,000 jurisdictions around the country.
After an alarming 37 percent increase in officer deaths in 2010, the DOJ renewed its commitment to improving officer safety by continuing to appropriate federal funds that bolster officer protection programs like the BVP. Based on data recorded and collected by BJA staff, protective vests were proven to save the lives of at least 33 law enforcement and corrections officers in FY2012. It is notable that at least 14 of those life-saving vests had been purchased, in part, with BVP grant money.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “For more than 15 years the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program has been saving lives by partnering with local law enforcement agencies to provide over one million vests to more than 13,000 officers. Yet for far too many agencies – especially rural and smaller jurisdictions – quality vests still cost too much and wear out too soon. This program helps to fill that gap.”
 See the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on the Bulletproof Vest Partnership.
 See Sen. Leahy Press Release “House Judiciary Committee Overwhelmingly Approves Leahy Authored Bill to Reauthorize Lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Grant Program” April 20, 2016.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing S. 125 would cost $100 million over the 2016-2020 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amount of $30 million annually. Enacting this legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues, therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-3021.