FY 2020 Appropriations Legislation Moving Forward in the House of Representatives

Legislation funding all federal agencies through FY 2020 has advanced at least through the House Committee on Appropriations. The following is the status of the various bills funding programs that the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has identified as priorities.

H.R. 2740, which funds the Department of Health and Human Services, among other agencies, passed the House of Representatives on June 18. During consideration of H.R. 2740 on the floor of the House, an amendment offered by Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to fully fund the National Firefighter Registry at $2.5 million was adopted. The NVFC asked Congress to provide $2.5 million for the Registry and supported the Pascrell amendment. Unfortunately, H.R. 2740 does not contain funding for the SIREN Act grant program, which was authorized in 2018. The NVFC requested $30 million for SIREN grants in FY 2020.

H.R. 3052, which funds the Department of Interior, passed out of committee on May 22. The bill includes $19 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program, which provides funding to volunteer fire departments to prepare for wildland fire response. $19 million would represent a $2 million increase over the level provided in FY 2017.

The FY 2020 Department of Homeland Security Appropriation Act has not been formally introduced, but a draft version was approved by the Committee on Appropriations on June 11. The bill increases funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs by $25 million each, to $375 million. The draft bill also increases funding for the U.S. Fire Administration from $45.68 million in FY 2019 to $47.23 million in FY 2020.

No appropriations legislation has been introduced yet in the U.S. Senate. Before legislation can be signed into law by the President, an identical version must pass the House and Senate. The NVFC will continue to advocate for adequate funding for critical volunteer emergency services programs as the appropriations process moves forward.