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FY 2013 Appropriations Bill to be Signed into Law

Includes AFG/SAFER and USFA Funding

H.R. 933, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama this week. The bill provides $39.609 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, as well as the United States Fire Administration (USFA). AFG and SAFER each received $337.5 million, the same as in FY 2012, while USFA is funded at $44 million, a slight reduction of $38,000 from last year. These funding levels are consistent with what NVFC asked House and Senate appropriators to provide.

Although the line-item appropriations for AFG/SAFER and USFA are basically flat, an across-the-board five percent cut for all programs – often referred to as the ‘automatic sequester’ – remains in force. As a result, actual funding for AFG and SAFER will be reduced to approximately $320 million, each, while USFA will receive slightly less than $42 million. The grant program cuts will be offset, however, based on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees directing DHS to fund grant management and administration costs for AFG and SAFER through FEMA’s Salaries and Expenses account in FY 2013. As a result it is expected that there will be no reduction in available grant dollars in FY 2013.

Overall, H.R. 933 provides $984 billion in discretionary spending across all federal agencies, a reduction of $59 billion from FY 2012. An amended version of H.R. 933, which originally passed the House earlier this month, was approved by the Senate on March 20. The House agreed to the Senate version of the bill on March 21.

Sequestration was created in August 2011 as part of a deal between Congress and the President to raise the federal debt ceiling. The original intent of the sequester was to put pressure on our nation’s political leaders to come up with a long-term debt reduction compromise by raising new tax revenue and reducing spending on entitlement and discretionary programs. Although a deal was struck earlier this year to raise approximately $600 billion in new taxes over the next ten years, a broader compromise was never reached and as a result the sequester took effect on March 1. Congress could have reduced or replaced the sequester through the FY 2013 appropriations bill but was unable to agree on a framework.