FY 2014 Appropriations Enacted; Includes AFG/SAFER Increase

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have reached agreement on omnibus legislation providing $1.012 trillion to fund the federal government through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The legislation (H.R. 3547) was quickly passed by both chambers and signed into law by President Obama.

H.R. 3547 provides $340 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, an increase for each program of $2.5 million above the FY 2013 level. The bill also provides $44 million for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the same as in FY 2013 but nearly $3 million higher than the level requested by the President. The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program is funded at $13.025 million. As with USFA, the VFA funding level is the same as last year but higher than the President’s budget request.

The overall funding level in H.R. 3547 was agreed to as part of a budget compromise that the House and Senate reached in December. In FY 2013 Congress did not agree to a budget and because appropriations levels were higher than the funding cap established in the Budget Control Act of 2011, an across-the-board 5.1 percent rescission to all federal discretionary spending items was imposed. This meant that for AFG, for instance, although $337.5 million was appropriated, only about $320 million was available to fund the program. As a result of the December budget compromise there will be no rescission in FY 2014. In other words, the funding level appropriated will be the same as the amount of funding available to administer programs.

“I’m pleased that Congress funded AFG, SAFER, and USFA at the level requested by the NVFC,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “We’d always like to see more funding for these critical programs but I think that in this sort of tight budget environment, getting small increases or flat funding is something to be thankful for. Additionally, I applaud the Congress for agreeing to a budget and doing away with the across-the-board rescissions that applied cuts indiscriminately.”

By enacting FY 2014 appropriations, Congress and the President avoided another federal government shutdown like the nation experienced in October of last year. Since the federal government reopened it has been operating on the terms of a continuing resolution that has been extended several times and was set to expire on January 18.