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Blunt: Federal grants will help pay for response to violence in Ferguson

File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The federal government is giving Missouri money to help law enforcement agencies cover some of the costs associated with paying overtime for officers who responded to the violence in Ferguson in the days following the shooting death of Michael Brown.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the $1,011,433 in grants will go to the Missouri Department of Public Safety “and then they’ll decide how to divide that up among the various police organizations that have expended money and resources as a result of what happened in Ferguson.”

Blunt has been pushing for federal assistance since shortly after last year’s unrest, he said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning. “We’ve been carefully monitoring anything the federal government was doing in Baltimore or other places to be sure that Missouri wasn’t somehow held to a different standard in terms of the substantial costs of public safety.”

More federal response

Blunt is co-sponsoring legislation to fund summer nutrition programs for school-age children. He says the bill comes from recommendations made by the Ferguson Commission. Blunt says he spoke with both of the commission’s co-chairs and determined that most of the governmental responses to the recommendations were at the state and local level, not the federal level. But he says the nutrition programs are an appropriate area for federal involvement.

Continuing resolution

In the same conference call, Blunt explained why he was among 20 Republicans who voted against a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating past Wednesday’s midnight deadline. The continuing resolution, which was approved, continues government funding at current levels into early December. Blunt opposes several of the current funding provisions, saying they don’t reflect the priorities of the Republican majority now leading Congress. 

Blunt hopes “the next set of spending bills we see, that will really fund next year, will reflect those priorities.”

Among the provisions Blunt and other Republicans oppose is funding for the Department of Homeland Security to pay to implement the president’s executive order allowing millions of undocumented individuals to stay in the U.S. while their cases are being reviewed. “The president just can’t continue to make all of these decisions by himself. The law doesn’t allow for that, in my view, and Congress shouldn’t fund it.”

Among the area's representatives, Lacy Clay, D-University City, Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Ill., Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, Ill., and John Shimkus, R-Collinsville voted for the measure. Opposed were Missouri representatives Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth and Jason Smith, R-Salem.

The continuing resolution is necessary because Senate Democrats continue to block the 12 regular appropriation bills passed by Republicans. Democrats say they want Republicans to negotiate an end to federal spending caps.