Thursday, December 21st: Last night, in its very last act of legislative business for the year, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation to reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs. The bill authorizes the two programs at $750 million each – making $1.5 billion available for staffing, training and equipment for the departments where our members work over the next six years.
The bill now goes to the president for his signature, and he is expected to sign it, ending a lengthy saga whereby the two programs were threatened with elimination.
The IAFF has been working with its friends in Congress for nearly two years to reauthorize AFG and SAFER, which were due to expire on January 2, 2018. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) led the effort on our behalf in the Senate. In the House, at the very last minute, Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA) authored a sister bill to reauthorize AFG and SAFER, but included a new seven-year sunset clause. This is the bill passed by the Senate yesterday and due to be signed into law.
AFG and SAFER are critical resources for fire departments in every state. We are proud to have been able to win reauthorization for both programs and will work in the coming years to pull out the sunset provision.