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Lawmakers Seek to Reauthorize Body Armor Program

Two U.S. Senators are pushing for the reauthorization of a program that funds bulletproof vests for law enforcement agencies.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who re-introduced the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act in May, have stressed that the program will need support to overcome opponents in the Senate, according to The News Journal.

Congress let the program, which pays for up to 50 percent of the cost of bulletproof vests for departments, expire last summer.

More than 1 million vests have been purchased through the program nationwide over during its 14 years in existence.

Coons recently held a press conference to urge support for the BVP on the steps of the New Castle County Courthouse, where a gunman shot and killed two people before turning his weapon on himself on Feb. 11.

"The program has saved thousands of lives nationwide, and just last year, it was the difference between life and death for two Capitol Police officers at the New Castle County Courthouse," he said. "Congress should be standing with our law enforcement officers, not in their way."

The Senator was joined by more than 40 officers from various agencies, including Capitol Police Sgt. Michael Manley and Cpl. Steve Rinehart.

The vests that protected Manley, who was struck near the heart, and Rinehart, who was also hit, were partially paid for by the program.

"I can say without a doubt that if I had not been wearing my vest on Feb. 11, I would not be standing before you here today," Rinehart said.

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