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Congress Increases Funding for Fire Service Programs

The House and Senate have passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Appropriations bills.  The bills are consolidated into two packages covering domestic spending (Including the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Agriculture) and national security spending (including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). The president is expected to sign the legislation.

Summary of Major Provisions

The bills include:

  • Repeal of the 40% tax on “Cadillac” (high-value) health plans
  • Exclusion of any property tax benefit for volunteer firefighters as well as up to $600 in other state and local benefits in Tax Year 2020
  • Repeal of the 2.3% medical device excise tax
  • $2.5 million for the National Firefighter Cancer Registry at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  • $5 million for the Supporting and Improving Rural Emergency Medical Services Needs (SIREN) grants at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • $23 million for the Mental Health First Aid program

 Appropriations (In millions of U.S. dollars)
 U.S. Department of Homeland Security
 FY 2018 (Enacted)
 FY 2019 (Enacted)
FY 2020 (Conference Report)
 350  350  355
 SAFER  350  350  355
 USFA  44.397  45.679  46.844
 Urban Areas Security Initiative
 630  640  665
State Homeland Security Grant Program
 507  525  560
 Urban Search and Rescue
 35.18  45.33  37.83

  • The bill includes funding at the USFA for the State Fire Training Grants and the NFFF ceremony at Emmitsburg.
  • For UASI funds, DHS is expected to conduct risk assessments for the 100 most populous metropolitan statistical areas and limit UASI funding to urban areas representing up to 85% of the cumulative national terrorism risk.
  • The bill would allow a waiver of some of the requirement for the SAFER grants to retain firefighters.
  • The bill would extend the period of performance for SAFER grants in FY 2016 for an additional year to help a Massachusetts fire department.

Appropriations (In millions of U.S. dollars)
  U.S. Department of Agriculture
  FY 2018 (Enacted)
FY 2019 (Enacted)
FY 2020 (Conference Report)
 USDA Fire
 2,880 3,004
 DIO Fire
 948.1  941.2  952.3
USDA State & Private Forestry
 335.5  337  347
 Volunteer Fire Assistance
 16  17  18
 State Fire Assistance
 80  81  82


U.S. Department of Transportation

  • Reauthorization of the ALERT grant program at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • $1.5 million for the Pipeline Safety Information grants at PHMSA
  • $1 million for the hazmat community safety grant program
  • $1 million for PHMSA to do a study through the Transportation Research Board on the transportation of liquified natural gas by rail cars.

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