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U.S. Congress Proposes 10% Cut to AFG and SAFER Grant Programs

On March 21, the U.S. House of Representatives released its $1.2 trillion mini-bus to fund many federal programs before a March 22 deadline to prevent a federal government shutdown. The House and Senate are expected to vote on this legislation this weekend.

The bill will cut the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grant programs by 10%! Both the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs were cut by $36 million to $324 million. The Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) program was cut by $61.5 million to $553.5 million. In addition, the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) was cut by $52 million to $468 million.

Other programs fared better. The U.S. Fire Administration received more than $71 million, which is less than was requested by President Biden. However, this amount should include funds to develop the new National Emergency Response Information System. The National Urban Search & Rescue System received a $3 million increase to $40.832 million, and the SIREN grant program for rural EMS received $1 million increase to $11.5 million. The National Firefighter Registry for Cancer received its requested $5.5 million.

The IAFC urges its members to call their Senators and Representatives and express their concerns over the cuts to the AFG, SAFER, UASI, and SHSGP funding. If you have received grants from these programs in the past, please explain why these programs are important for protecting your community and personnel.

Also, please discuss the overwhelming need for programs like the AFG and SAFER programs. For example, in Fiscal Year 2021, there were applications for more than $2 billion in federal assistance requested each for both the AFG and SAFER programs.

Information for calling your Senators can be found here. Information for calling your Representatives can be found here (If you don’t know your Representative’s name, you can use the link in the top right-hand corner of the web page to input your zip code.)

Also, the IAFC encourages its members to visit Washington, DC on April 29 and 30 to meet with their Senators and Representatives in person. On April 29, you can attend the annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner. Order Your Tickets to the 34th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner - Congressional Fire Services Institute.

We have to start working today to restore funding to the AFG and SAFER grant programs next year.

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