Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, September 14th, the United States Senate approved H.R. 4567, the Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2005 Appropriations Act. The bill, which provides funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the next fiscal year, includes $750 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP).
On June 18th, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4567 by a vote of 400-5. In the House version of the legislation, the AFGP is only funded at $600 million. After the Senate passes H.R. 4567, the two houses will meet in conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions of the bill, including the funding levels for the AFGP. Congressional leaders hope to resolve the differences and vote on final passage before the fiscal year begins on October 1, 2004.
The Senate Appropriations Committee had initial funded the AFGP at $700 million, $50 million less than in fiscal years 2003 and 2004. Senator Bill Frist (TN) offered an amendment to increase the appropriation for the AFGP back to $750 million. The amendment, which was agreed to by voice vote on Friday, September 10th, was cosponsored by Senator Robert Byrd (WV), Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Senator Arlen Specter (PA), Senator Lisa Murkowsli (AK), Senator Mike DeWine (OH), Senator George Voinovich (OH), Senator Conrad Burns (MT), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD), and Senator Edward Kennedy (MA). In addition to adding $50 million for the AFGP, the amendment also increases appropriations to the Emergency Management Performance Grants by $20 million.