Biden to unveil crime prevention plan in Pennsylvania

Washington — President Biden is traveling to Pennsylvania on Thursday to outline a $37 billion plan aimed at making U.S. communities safer and fighting crime amid a nationwide surge in violence, which includes $13 billion to assist communities with hiring more police officers.

In remarks from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden will outline his “Safe America Plan,” funding for which would use money included in his fiscal year 2023 budget request to Congress. 

The president’s proposal calls for $13 billion over the next five years for communities to hire and train 100,000 additional police officers, as well as nearly $3 billion to help clear court backlogs and solve murders.

Mr. Biden’s plan establishes a $15 billion grant program for cities and states to use over the next decade to promote approaches to prevent violent crime or identify non-violent situations that warrant a public health response, with the goal of alleviating the burden on law enforcement officers. Another $5 billion would be used for evidence-based community violence intervention programs. 

Senior administration officials told reporters that with his speech, Mr. Biden will “drive a clear contrast with Republicans,” who are seeking to paint Democrats as being soft-on-crime ahead of November’s midterm elections. The president is also expected to detail how Democrats have taken action to combat rising crime rates, only to have GOP lawmakers oppose their efforts “at every turn.”

Mr. Biden will continue to press Congress to pass legislation strengthening background checks for all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, according to the officials.

Lawmakers approved and the president signed into law a bipartisan measure last month to reform the nation’s gun laws, the first major update to federal firearms statutes in nearly three decades. Called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the law enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21, provides billions of dollars for mental health services and sets aside $750 million to incentivize states to create crisis-intervention programs. The measure also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to ensure convicted domestic abusers can’t purchase a firearm for five years.

But it’s unlikely legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would clear both chambers of Congress.

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