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Based on past experience, it would seem likely that Congress will save these and other programs by appropriating more money after the House, Senate and White House go through the ritual goat dance that is required to pass a budget. But this year it could be much tougher. Along with the normal Democrat vs. Republican squabbles, thereâ€™s the spectacle of Republicans fighting each other and publicly disagreeing with their President, whose poll ratings are at an all-time low. There is chaos on Capitol Hill, which makes it more difficult to get things done, especially when issues are judged by their impact on Novemberâ€™s midterm election.
All of the House and one-third of the Senate seats are up for election and now is the time for firefighters and their supporters to let them know that they want the FIRE Act funds to be restored and SAFER to be saved. Write and call their offices, send e-mails and faxes, and try to talk to them when they come home to campaign during their long spring and summer breaks. Donâ€™t be fooled when they try to tell you how much they authorized for fire programs. What counts is how much they appropriated and only dummies donâ€™t know the difference. Let them know that firefighters are not dummies.
Hal Bruno, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.