Bush Signs DHS Appropriations bill 06...AFG CUT!!!!
President Signs DHS Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2006
President Bush signed into law the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (HR 2360), worth $31.9 billion. The law decreases funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, increases funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act, and provides a first-ever direct appropriation to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The law also implements Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff's "second stage review," which would move a number of department functions, including the USFA, into a new Preparedness Directorate.
"While I am disappointed by the cut in AFG funds, I congratulate and thank Congress and the president for approving many changes that would benefit America's fire service," said IAFC President Chief Bill Killen. "I am delighted that the U.S. Fire Administration now has its own line item. As the fire service's main voice in the federal government, the USFA deserves its own funding."
The FIRE Act and SAFER
Full funding for the AFG program (also known as the "FIRE Act") and the SAFER Act were two of the IAFC's top lobbying priorities. The FIRE Act will receive $545 million in FY 2006, which is a decrease from the FY 2005 appropriation of $650 million. SAFER will receive $110 million, which is an increase from the FY 2005 appropriation of $65 million. The IAFC, along with the other major fire service organizations, will continue to lobby for increased funding for both grant programs in future fiscal years. The IAFC encourages its members to explain to their members of Congress how this cut to the FIRE Act will affect their departments. Since this is an annual appropriation, Congress will vote to fund this program again next year for FY 2007.
A positive outcome for the FIRE Act in this law is direction from Congress to make sure this grant program is used for all-hazards - rather than terrorism - preparedness. Congress also directs DHS to maintain a number of eligible categories that the president had sought to eliminate. Those categories include wellness and fitness programs, emergency medical services (EMS), fire prevention programs, public education programs and modifications of facilities for the health and safety of personnel.
The law also moves the USFA into the new Preparedness Directorate that Secretary Chertoff intends to create as part of his "second stage review." This review was an in-depth look at DHS from top to bottom to determine whether the department could be organized more efficiently. In appropriating money for a Preparedness Directorate, this law allows Secretary Chertoff to move forward with his plans.
The new directorate will house Infrastructure and Information Security programs; USFA; the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, which distributes homeland security grant funds; and the Office of National Capital Region Coordination. The new directorate will not include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will become a stand-alone response function within DHS. In its conference report on the law, Congress directs the Preparedness Directorate to work with FEMA "to continue an all-hazard approach for preparation, response and recovery to any type of disaster."
The IAFC lobbied for the creation of the new Preparedness Directorate.
At the request of the IAFC, Congress included a specific line item to fund the USFA. In February, the IAFC held a summit on Capitol Hill with 16 major fire service organizations in order to examine USFA funding and determine a course of action to address concerns that the agency and its training arm, the National Fire Academy, were losing funding. This summit and a subsequent meeting of 44 fire and emergency service organizations determined that it was necessary for USFA to have its own line item in the president's budget and appropriations bills to clarify USFA's funding levels.
Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, joined with eight other senators to introduce a successful amendment to provide the USFA with a line item of $52.6 million. Congress ultimately approved $44.9 million, of which more than $4.5 million is for the Noble Training Center. This funding level includes all of USFA's activities except for the Emergency Management Institute (EMI). Under Secretary Chertoff's "second stage review," USFA will move to the new Preparedness Directorate, while EMI will remain under the jurisdiction of FEMA.
Having a line item elevates the status of the USFA within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a function that deserves individual attention and consideration.
National Incident Management System
Another accomplishment for the fire service in this law is an appropriation of $22 million for the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center (the NIC). The NIC is responsible for making sure that every party responding to a small- or large-scale incident - from first responders to government leaders - understands a single incident management system. The response to Hurricane Katrina made clear that this nation is nowhere near being ready to implement the NIMS, and that the NIC must take more aggressive steps to train government officials at all levels in this system - and hold them accountable to it. Increased funding will allow the NIC to expand its outreach programs.
The Senate committee report would have required all grant dollars for interoperable communications to be used on Project 25 (P25) compliant equipment. That report language contradicted existing grant guidance developed by SAFECOM and the public safety community that would mandate the purchase of P25 equipment but allow departments to purchase other equipment if there are "compelling reasons." The IAFC argued that this exception should stand, since a small volunteer fire department should be allowed to receive a federal grant to buy radios that cost $500 instead of $3,500. Congress agreed, and allowed the exception to remain in the law.
In addition, Congress appropriated $26.5 million for the Office of Interoperability and Compatibility, including $5 million for the expanded deployment of RapidCom.
Homeland Security Grant Formula
Finally, the bill changes the way that DHS will award homeland security grants. The change is only for FY 2006; however, it may set a precedent for future years.
For the past two years, the House Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have sought to make these grants more risk-based. However, the two committees could not agree on an approach. This law meets them in the middle. It requires DHS to distribute $950 million in state formula grants, including the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) grants, so that each state receives at least 0.75 percent of the total. DHS will distribute the rest according to the ratio of each state's population to the total national population. The law also provides $765 million in discretionary grants for high-threat, high-density urban areas (commonly referred to as the Urban Areas Security Initiative - or UASI - cities). DHS will distribute all of that money based on risk.
House Homeland Security staff estimate that under this new formula, DHS will allocate 21.6 percent of the funding based on the state minimums and 78.4 percent based on risk. Each state will receive a minimum of just over $7 million, compared with more than $11 million in FY 2005.
The IAFC has not taken a position on any change in the federal homeland security funding formula.
Other areas of interest in this law include:
§ National Preparedness Goal: The law requires DHS to issue the final National Preparedness Goal by Dec. 31, 2005.
§ Catastrophic Planning: The law directs the Secretary of DHS to report on the status of catastrophic planning, including mass evacuation planning in all 50 states and the 75 largest urban areas, by Feb. 10, 2006.
§ Rapid Decontamination Preparedness: The law directs ODP, in consultation with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the Environmental Protection Agency and other relevant federal agencies, to plan to establish a regionally based, pre-positioned rapid response capability for the decontamination of biological and chemical agents.
§ Quadrennial Review: The law requires DHS to conduct a Quadrennial Homeland Security Review similar to the quadrennial reviews conducted by the Department of Defense. The first review must be completed by Sept. 30, 2008.
§ EMS: Congress expressed concern that not enough first responder grant funding reaches EMS providers. Congress directs the DHS Office for Domestic Preparedness, which awards grants, "to require state and local governments to include EMS representatives in planning committees as an equal partner and to facilitate a nationwide EMS needs assessment." Congress also directs ODP to evaluate how much money goes to EMS providers and to require an explanation from any state that provides less than 10 percent of its grant funding to EMS providers.
Below is a chart of select appropriations for Fiscal Year 2006:
FY 2006 Appropriation
FY 2005 Appropriation
Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program
Emergency Management Performance Grants
Metropolitan Medical Response System
National Domestic Preparedness Consortium
National Exercise Program
NIMS Integration Center
Office of Interoperability and Compatibility
Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium
State Homeland Security Grant Program
$2.105 billion (separated into formula-based and discretionary grants
$2.7 billion (including $885 million for high-threat, high-density urban areas)
(SHSGP and LTP)
$1.155 billion (including $765 million for high-threat, high-density urban areas)
Urban Search and Rescue
If you look at the bigger picture.
From Firehouse.com, don't have a date...
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program has $105 million less to provide in FY2006 while the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants program grew by nearly 70 percent.
With unanimous approval Friday, the Senate sent President Bush for his signature the $31.9 billion Department of Homeland Security budget, boosting the DHS budget by 5 percent. But the bill cuts funding for first-responder grants for states and local governments by about 17 percent.
The numbers of interest are $110 million for SAFER and $545 million for AFG, which is a total of $155 million more than the President’s original request.
The U.S. Fire Administration, a unit of FEMA in DHS also had its budget cut for next year by about $11 million to $44,948.000, according to figures from the Congressional Fire Services Institute.
President Bush’s FY2006 budget proposal included only $500 million for the AFG and no funding for SAFER, severely cutting the funding levels of $650 million for the Fire Grant Program and $65 million for the SAFER Program in FY2005.
I think they did a pretty darn good job with what they're working with.