White House Releases the President’s Budget Request for FY 2021

On February 10 the White House published President Trump’s Budget Request to Congress for FY 2021, proposing $4.8 trillion in federal spending. The budget request includes funding for specific programs that benefit the volunteer emergency services, including:

  • $344.344 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, the same funding levels requested by the President in FY 2020. Congress ultimately increased funding for both programs from $350 million to $355 million last year.
  • $49.7 million for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), an increase from FY 2020 when the President requested $46.6 million for USFA and Congress provided $46.8 million. The budget proposes restoring grants to state fire training agencies to offer courses developed by the National Fire Academy. The state fire training grants were not funded in FY 2019 but were restored by Congress in FY 2020.
  • $17 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) grant program, which is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The President only requested $11.02 million for VFA in FY 2020, while Congress increased funding from $17 million to $18 million.

The budget request proposes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “…continue implementation of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018…” which “…requires CDC to develop a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect relevant heath and occupational information to better understand the link between workplace exposures and cancer.” However, the budget does not specify a funding level for the registry, which is authorized at $2.5 million, and proposes cutting the overall budget for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is responsible for developing and maintaining the registry, from $342.8 million in FY 2020 to $190 million.

The budget request also proposes that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “…continue to support grants to rural public and non-profit fire and emergency medical services agencies to recruit and train personnel and acquire emergency medical services equipment…” in addition to funding “…14 new First Responder Training grants.” The budget request proposes $41 million for all of these grants, flat funding from FY 2020.

“Each year the President’s budget request is the first step in the appropriations process,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Steve Hirsch. “I am pleased to that the budget proposes increasing funding for USFA and restoring the state fire training grants. The NVFC will work with Congress to ensure that these important programs receive adequate funding, and that proposed cuts to AFG/SAFER, VFA, and NIOSH are not realized in FY 2021.”