Before he tested positive for COVID-19, President Biden planned to tout his request to Congress on Thursday for $37 billion over several years to support law enforcement and crime prevention, The Hill reports. Biden had expected to discuss the issue in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in a trip focused on expanding the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the bipartisan gun bill he signed last month. Senior administration officials said the timing of the announcement was to be a way for the president to stress that the work is not done on gun violence. “He wanted to seize the momentum. Seize the moment in order to drive further,” officials said.
Biden’s $37 billion request, called the Safer America Plan, would invest nearly $13 billion over five years to hire and train 100,000 additional police officers, invest $3 billion to clear court backlogs and solve murders and establish a $15 billion grant program on justice system reform. Biden wanted to travel to Wilkes-Barre, near his hometown of Scranton, Pa., for remarks geared towards community safety. “You shouldn’t have to be in your hometown and be living in fear of gun violence. So, the president wanted to go and be able to talk about how home should mean safety, and in order to get that done, we really need Congress to do more to reduce gun violence,” officials said. In June, House appropriations committee members rejected most of Biden's request for the first installment of $300 million for the "Accelerating Justice System Reform Initiative."