On Sunday night, Congress reached a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through the end of its fiscal year which ends September 30th. Included in the compromise is approximately $15 million for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Program. This program could provide federal funds to reimburse state and local law enforcement for the costs associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
This program has been short of funding for the past few years which has limited its reach. The compromise included this funding thanks in part to the push from U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Heitkamp has been pressing both this Congress and the last Congress to give the program a boost emphasizing the need for federal aid to cover the millions of dollars spent by state and local law enforcement during the DAPL protest.
During the protest and immediately following, we heard locally elected officials insisting the federal government should help cover the costs. In September of 2016, former Governor Dalrymple issued formal requests seeking federal aid. Those elected officials, including Governor Dalrymple, were right to make these requests. Seven months later, the federal money may finally be available.
I emphasize “may provide” because the work is not done. Senator Heitkamp has successfully convinced her colleagues of the funding’s importance to our state. Now, it is up to the State of North Dakota under Governor Burgum to submit an application for the funds. There is no guarantee we’ll receive a portion of the $15 million which is where Heitkamp’s continued efforts will be needed once the state applies. Truthfully, it is tough for anyone to argue the merits of our case. I anticipate we will get a share of the money.
This is a good development to start the week. Persistence seems to have paid off to this point. Obviously, there is more to be done if we wish to be fully reimbursed, but this potential is welcomed.
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