The Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill on Thursday to fund the federal government. The bill, H.R. 2617, includes $360 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs. If the bill passes Congress as-is, there will be a FY 2023 AFG, SAFER and Fire Prevention and Safety application period. The bill must still be approved by the House before it is sent to the White House for President Biden’s signature.
The IAFC joined its allies in Congress and the national fire and emergency service organizations in an effort to include an amendment to H.R. 2617 this week that would have reauthorized the AFG and SAFER programs as well as the USFA.. The amendment would have:
- Extended the authorization for the AFG and SAFER programs through Fiscal Year (FY) 2030.
- Extended the sunset date for the AFG and SAFER grant programs to September 30, 2032.
- Authorized $95 million for the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) from FY 2024 through FY 2030.
Unfortunately, this language was not included in H.R. 2617, which passed the Senate on Thursday.
What This Means: If the measure passes Congress, the AFG, SAFER and USFA programs will be funded in FY 2023. H.R. 2617 includes $360 million each for AFG and SAFER in FY 2023. The USFA is appropriated $58.287 million (an increase) for FY 2023. There will be FY 2023 application periods for the AFG, SAFER, and Fire Prevention and Safety grants.
The AFG and SAFER grant programs still face a statutory termination date of September 30, 2024. The USFA is not affected by this sunset date.
Your Senators and Representatives will have to pass legislation in the 118th Congress (starting in January) to extend the “sunset” dates for the AFG and SAFER grant programs and authorize funding for the USFA, AFG, and SAFER grant programs. We do not know what steps the Federal Emergency Management Agency might take to wind down the AFG and SAFER programs. Our goal is to prevent that eventuality.
Ken LaSala is the IAFC’s Director of Government Relations & Policy.