DHS Appropriations Bill Passes House: Amendments Boost Allocations For Firefighter Grant Programs

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives passed the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2007 (H.R. 5441) on June 6. The bill provides the Department of Homeland Security with $32.1 billion in discretionary spending. It also contains funding for a number of first responder grant programs including $543.1 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program (AFG) and $112.1 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.

The AFG program helps provide fire departments with equipment, training, and apparatus to respond to all hazards through matching grants. SAFER grants assist fire departments as well as state and regional fire associations in the hiring of personnel and to implement volunteer recruitment and retention programs.

The House Appropriations Committee had originally only designated $500 million for the AFG program and $40 million for the SAFER program. During consideration of H.R. 5441 on the floor of the House, however, two amendments to increase AFG and SAFER funding were adopted by a voice vote. On May 25, the House passed an amendment offered by Representatives Martin Sabo (D-MN), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), John Sweeney (R-NY), Curt Weldon (R-PA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Jeb Bradley (R-NH) to increase funding for AFG to $541 million and SAFER to $110 million. After the Memorial Day recess, the House passed another amendment offered by Representatives Randy Kuhl (R-NY) and Tom Price (R-GA) to increase AFG and SAFER allotments by $2.1 million. The second increase was offset by eliminating funding set aside to pay for a DHS limousine contract that is currently being investigated.

“The AFG and SAFER programs are extremely important to the fire service,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “On behalf of the volunteer fire service of America, I’d like to thank all of our allies in Congress for securing extra funding for these crucial programs.”

H.R. 5441 will now go to the Senate for consideration.

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