WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A House subcommittee that approved a bill reauthorizing FIRE Act and SAFER grants on Wednesday also passed an amendment that will ban ACORN from receiving any further grants earmarked for first responders.
"I believe it is prudent to ensure that ACORN does not receive a single dime of the taxpayers' money from this program," said. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said in a prepared statement.
"This is an organization that is already under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, and is also being investigated by the Louisiana Attorney General. It is clear the American people are fed up with this type of reprehensible behavior and this program is far too important and overextended to be lining the coffers of corrupt organizations."
Earlier this month, Broun sent a letter to FEMA demanding to know whether the grant was awarded appropriately and requested documentation regarding determination that ACORN had the "recognized expertise in Fire Prevention and Safety" to be eligible for the grant, as is required by law, according to a statement.
FEMA has not yet responded to the letter.
The committee also approved a measure to address responders' mental health.
"My amendment will underscore the value of mental wellness services for firefighters," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). "As a former psychiatric nurse, I believe that protecting the mental health of firefighters cannot be over-emphasized.
"My amendment will also encourage partnerships with Minority-Serving Institutions for institutional fire safety research grants, providing greater access for more students to these large research grants. It is intended to cultivate a diverse research workforce for fire safety."
The bill that made it out of committee authorizes $1 billion for AFG, and $1.19 billion for SAFER. Congress will ultimately decide how much both programs will receive.