A program that helps law enforcement agencies buy bulletproof vests is stuck in an ideological battle over the government's responsibility to state and local police departments.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the Senate on Tuesday to consider long-delayed legislation to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Grant Partnership Program, which he authored.

But a longtime opponent of the bill, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected, blocking action on the program, as he did in 2012, USA Today reports.

Coburn said the Constitution gives the federal government no role in funding local police departments.

"It's a nice thing to do if we were in surplus," he said. "We're not in surplus."

Leahy wanted the Senate to take up the legislation ahead of National Police Week next week. After Coburn objected, Leahy announced he would hold a May 14 hearing on the program's positive impact.