The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved a Fiscal Year 2015 funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The $39.2 billion spending bill is a slight decrease from the Fiscal Year 2014 spending level, but is an $888 million increase above the White House’s request for the department.
Included in the spending bill is funding for a number of important fire service programs. The Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) grant program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program are each funded at $340 million, the same amount as in the current fiscal year. The White House had requested $335 million for each program in its FY2015 budget proposal. Additionally, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) maintains its current level of funding at $44 million. The White House had recommended cutting USFA’s funding to $41.407 million.
Earlier in the year, CFSI co-signed a letter with the other national fire service organizations to the House and Senate appropriations committees asking them to maintain the current level of funding for these programs.
“At a time when fiscal austerity drives many of the funding decisions at the federal level, it is good to see that Congress understands the importance of these vital programs and supports maintaining the current funding levels,” said Bill Webb, CFSI’s executive director. “The FIRE and SAFER grant programs have provided equipment, training, and personnel to fire department across the country, while USFA has given the fire service a much needed voice within FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. I applaud Subcommittee Chairman John Carter and Ranking Member David Price for their willingness to work with our organizations to address the needs of our nation’s fire service.”
Unfortunately, the funding bill does contain a cut to the Urban Search and Rescue Response System. The bill funds the US&R system at only $27.513 million, down from $35.18 million in Fiscal Year 2014. This is in line with the White House’s budget request.
The bill will now go before the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration before being sent to the House floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up a companion bill in the coming weeks. CFSI will continue to provide updates throughout the appropriations process.