Tag: FEMA

House Begins Consideration of Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Bills, Increases Funding for Fire Service Programs

On Wednesday, June 19th, the House approved H.R. 2740, the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Legislative Branch, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. The nearly $1 trillion spending package combines four bills previously approved by the House Appropriations Committee.  

Included in H.R. 2740 is funding for the National Firefighter Registry.  In 2018, Congress created the National Firefighter Registry, a specialized national cancer registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources needed to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among firefighters.  While Congress authorized $2.5 million annually for the program, H.R. 2740 originally only funded the program at $1.6 million for Fiscal Year 2020.

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, and Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) sponsored an amendment to fully fund the National Firefighter Registry. The House approved the Pascrell-Collins amendment by a vote of 413-10.  The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

The House is currently debating H.R. 3055, the Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act.  The bill funds the State Fire Assistance program at $83.105 million, an increase of 2.105 million over Fiscal Year 2019, and also funds the Volunteer Fire Assistance program at $19 million, an increase of $2 million over the current fiscal year.  

Additionally, on June 12th, the House Appropriations Committee approved a draft Fiscal Year 2020 Homeland Security spending bill.  The legislation funds agencies and programs within the Department of Homeland Security.  The bill provides $47.225 million for the United States Fire Administration, an increase of $1.546 million over Fiscal Year 2019.  The bill also increases funding for a number of grant programs, including:

  • $750 million for AFG/SAFER (split evenly among the two programs), an increase of $50 million from Fiscal Year 2019;
  • $700 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative, $60 million increase from Fiscal Year 2019; and
  • $625 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program, $100 million increase from Fiscal Year 2019.

The Homeland Security spending bill will now go to the full House for consideration.  

White House Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Proposal; Recommends Cuts to Fire Service Programs

(March 19, 2019) – On March 11th, the White House released President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal. The $4.7 trillion spending plan includes $51.7 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, a $3.6 billion increase over estimated spending for the current fiscal year.

The spending plan requests $688,688,000 for the Assistance to Firefighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs, split evenly between the two programs. This is the same amount the Administration requested in its Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal and a reduction from the $700 million Congress appropriated for the programs in Fiscal Year 2019.

Additionally, the White House is recommending significant cuts to the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).  Under the spending plan, the State Homeland Security Grant Program would be funded at $331.393 million and UASI would be funded at $426.461 million, a reduction of more than one-third of the current funding levels for each program.  

The budget proposal also requests $46,605,000 for the United States Fire Administration (USFA). Congress appropriated $45.679 million for USFA in Fiscal Year 2019.  Unfortunately, the proposal does not include funding for State Fire Training Assistance, a program that allows the National Fire Academy to partner with state fire training academies in delivering its classes at the state and local levels.

The White House is proposing to fund the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program at $11.02 million and State Fire Assistance (SFA) program at $65.93 million. These programs provide assistance to states and local fire departments for wildland fire prevention, detection, and suppression. In Fiscal Year 2019, the programs were funded at $17 million and $81 million respectively.

The release of the White House budget proposal is the first step in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget process. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will begin drafting Fiscal Year 2020 funding bills for the individual federal departments and agencies. CFSI will continue to provide updates throughout the process.

 

Congress Approves FAA Reauthorization, Includes Disaster Reform Provisions

(October 5, 2018) – On Wednesday, October 3rd, the Senate approved H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act.  The bill, which authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for five-years, includes a number of provisions to reform how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to, and prepares for, disasters.  

The legislation provides incentives for states and localities to adopt building codes to protect their communities and ensures that Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) funds can be used towards building code development and enforcement.  The bill also allows FEMA to provide Hazard Mitigation Assistance to areas affected by wildland fires.

H.R. 302 was approved by the House on September 26th.  The bill will now be sent to the White House for the President’s signature.  

House Appropriations Committee Advances Fiscal Year 2019 Funding Bill

(July 25, 2018) – On Wednesday, July 25th, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  The funding bill provides $350 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.  This is the same amount as the programs are funded at in the current fiscal year.

The bill also funds the United States Fire Administration (USFA) at $44,993,000, the same amount as requested in the White House’s FY19 budget proposal and $596,000 over the current fiscal year.  This amount also includes $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements at USFA’s Emmitsburg, Maryland campus.

Additionally, the bill increases funding for the Urban Search and Rescue System (US&R) to $45,330,000.  The program is currently funded at $35,180,000. The White House requested only $27,513,000 for US&R in the Administration’s FY19 budget proposal.  

On June 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3109, the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security funding bill.  The House and Senate versions of the spending bill will now be considered by their respective chambers.  If approved, the appropriators will meet in conference to resolve any differences in the bills. The current fiscal year ends on September 31st.  CFSI will continue to provide updates throughout the appropriations process.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland, Interior Spending Bills

(June 21, 2018) – On June 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security spending bill.  The legislation appropriates $55.15 billion for programs and activities within the Department of Homeland Security.  The Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs are funded at $700 million, split evenly between the two programs.  This is the same amount Congress provided for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).

The bill also provides $44 million for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), with an additional $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements at USFA’s Emmitsburg, MD campus. USFA received a total of $44.397 million in funding for FY18.  The Urban Search and Rescue System is funded at $35.180 million in the bill, the same level of funding as appropriated for the current fiscal year.  

The Senate committee also recommended funding the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) at $605 million (a reduction of $25 million from FY18) and $512 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (an increase of $5 million over FY18).  Both programs would receive significantly more funding than requested in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal.  

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up its own version of the FY19 Homeland Security spending bill in the coming weeks.  

Additionally, on June 14th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3073, the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  The bill provides $35.853 billion to fund the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies.  The bill provides $16 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program and $80 million for the State Fire Assistance program.  This is the same amount Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year. On June 6th, the House Appropriations Committee approved its own version of the bill, which includes the same funding levels.  

CFSI will continue to provide updates as the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process moves forward, including a more comprehensive breakdown of the funding bills.    

(Updated on June 22, 2018; 10:30 a.m.)

CFSI Releases 2018 Legislative Outlook

(March 29, 2018) – The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) has released its Legislative Outlook for the Second Session of the 115th Congress.  In 2018, Congress is considering many issues of critical importance to the nation’s fire and emer­gency services. Actions taken by Congress will have a direct impact on the fire service’s ability to prepare for, respond to, prevent, and mitigate incidents both large and small, natural and man-made, local and national in scope. The CFSI Legislative Outlook is synopsis of some critical issues that will be considered during the Second Session of the 115th Congress.

“On April 18th and 19th, over 1,500 fire service leaders will be in Washington, DC attending the 30th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner.  As part of the event, they will be on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress to discuss a number of critical issues,” said Bill Webb, CFSI’s Executive Director.  “We hope this document will not only be a valuable resource for them while they prepare for their trip to our nation’s capital, but also for their members of Congress.”

The CFSI 2018 Legislative Outlook, as well as a full list of current fire service legislation, can be found by visiting CFSI’s website.

Congress Passes Fiscal Year 2018 Spending Package, Increases Funding for Fire Service Programs

(March 23, 2018) – Yesterday, Congress approved an omnibus spending bill to fund programs and activities of the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018.  The government has been operating on a series of continuing resolutions since October 1, 2017, the beginning of the current fiscal year.    

Included in the spending package is funding for several programs of significance to the nation’s fire and emergency services.  The Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs are funded at $700 million, split evenly between the two programs.  This is an increase of $10 million from the previous year’s appropriation. Additionally, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is funded at $42.9 million, with an additional $1.497 million for infrastructure improvements at the National Fire Academy.  This is a slight increase from the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) funding level.

Several other programs received increased funding under the measure as well.  The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) is funded at $630 million, an increase of $25 million over FY17 funding.  The bill also provides $507 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program, an increase of $40 million. The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program is funded at $16 million and the State Fire Assistance program is funded at $80 million, increases of $1 million and $2 million respectively.  The Urban Area Search and Rescue System is funded at $35.18 million — essentially the same level of funding as past years.

The spending bill will now be sent to the President.  

Congress Approves Six-Week Continuing Resolution, Includes Disaster Reforms and Other First Responder Provisions

(February 9, 2018) – The House and Senate have approved a six-week continuing resolution to avoid a potential government shutdown.  The measure, which includes a two-year agreement on spending-caps, is the fifth continuing resolution Congress has approved as both chambers continue to struggle with finalizing a funding package for Fiscal Year 2018.  

In addition to maintaining funding for the operations of the federal government through March 23rd, the continuing resolution includes several legislative provisions of importance to the nation’s fire and emergency services.  H.R. 1892, the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act, is the underlying legislation the continuing resolution was attached to.  The bill amends the U.S. Flag Code, affirming the ability of state governors, as well as the mayor of the District of Columbia, to order the lowering of the United States flag to half-staff in the event of the death of a first responder in the line- of- duty.  The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act was originally introduced in the House by Congressman John Larson (CT-1) and in the Senate by Senator Jon Tester (MT).  

In addition to containing provisions to honor fallen public safety officers, the continuing resolution also makes significant reforms to federal disaster response by allowing the federal cost share for certain disaster assistance to be increased from 75 to 85 percent if states take steps to make themselves more resilient against disasters – including the adoption and enforcement of current building codes.  These reforms are a key component of H.R. 4460, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, first introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) on November 28, 2017.  

Additionally, the continuing resolution extends the Medicare Ambulance Add-On payments for five years.  These payments provide an additional 2%, 3% or 22.6% payment for transportation of Medicare patients from urban, rural and super-rural jurisdictions.

House Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Spending Bill

(July 21, 2017) – On Tuesday, July 18th, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2018.  The $44.3 billion spending bill represents a nearly $2 billion increase in spending for the Department compared to the current fiscal year.  

The bill would fund the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs at $690 million, the same amount as the current fiscal year.  The United States Fire Administration (USFA) would receive a slight cut from $44 million for Fiscal Year 2017 to $43.41 million for Fiscal Year 2018.  The Urban Search and Rescue System (USAR) and the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) would both be funded at essentially the same levels as the current fiscal year.  The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) would receive $630 million, an increase of $25 million over the current fiscal year.  

Earlier this year, the White House released a Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal that recommend significant cuts to the USAR, SHSGP and UASI programs.  

Senate Confirms Brock Long to Head FEMA

(June 23, 2017) – On Tuesday, June 20th, the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Brock Long to be the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Mr. Long has more than 16 years of emergency management experience, including as the Director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency from 2008 -2011.  

FEMA’s mission is to coordinate the federal government’s disaster response, preparedness and mitigation efforts.  The agency oversees the United States Fire Administration and a number of first responder grant programs, including the Assistance to Firefighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs.  

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Mr. Long’s nomination by voice vote on June 12th.  The full Senate approved his appointment by a vote of 95-4.