On January 20, Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as president of the United States. The 115th Congress convened on January 3. Much like when President Obama was inaugurated eight years ago, the incoming president has majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Both a Republican president and a Republican congress will want to move an aggressive agenda in a favorable political environment.
From the fire and emergency service perspective, one of our key legislative goals will be reauthorization of the FIRE and SAFER Grant programs. Due to a sunset in the last reauthorization bill, the FIRE and SAFER grants must be reauthorized or they’ll expire on January 3, 2018.
In addition, Congress must reauthorize the U.S. Fire Administration.
In addition, Congress did not pass full-year funding for the federal government for fiscal year 2017. Before recessing for the holidays, Congress only passed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open until April 28.
This lack of full-year funding will delay the application for the FIRE and SAFER grants. In addition, the new president is expected to release a FY 2018 budget request.
FIRE and SAFER Grants and USFA
For FY 2016, the FIRE and SAFER grants received $345 million each and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) received $44 million.
So, this year we’ll have to protect funding for the FIRE and SAFER Grant programs and the USFA in both FY 2017 and FY 2018.
Affordable Care Act
One of President Trump’s first priorities will be to repeal the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
It’s not clear whether the PPACA repeal bill will include new policies to replace it or they’ll be developed later.
The IAFC is working on a legislative list of objectives for this debate, including ensuring that fire and EMS departments are appropriately reimbursed for the EMS service they provide.
Another priority for the president and new congress will be tax reform.
Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act
The IAFC is supporting the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act as an inducement for small business owners to install automatic fire sprinklers.
Fourteen years after The Station nightclub fire, the December Ghost Ship fire in Oakland continues to demonstrate the importance of installing fire sprinklers in public buildings.
Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act
The IAFC will also continue to advocate for the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act. Depending on Congress’ interest in focusing on either corporate or individual tax reform, the IAFC will be fighting for our members on Capitol Hill.
2017 will be an important year for the fire and emergency service. It’s important to educate the new administration and Congress about the policy goals of the fire and emergency service, especially if we preserve the FIRE and SAFER grants.
We encourage you to attend the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner on April 5–6, and use those days to meet with your senators and representatives.