On September 29, 2006, both the U.S. House and Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2007 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. This bill funds the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from October 1, 2006, through September 30, 2007. The president signed the bill into law.
The legislation includes a number of successes for America's fire service, including an increase of more than $2 million for the U.S. Fire Administration, an increase of $5 million for the SAFER grant program, an increase of $2 million for the FIRE grants and a $30 million increase for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants. The bill also includes legislations to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency and grant it greater autonomy within the Department of Homeland Security.
"This comprehensive legislation will play a major part in fixing many of the problems identified in the after-action reports from Hurricane Katrina and funding America's national emergency preparedness system," said IAFC President Chief Jim Harmes. "It demonstrates the effectiveness of America's major fire service organizations when they work together in a coordinated effort on Capitol Hill."
Here are some of the highlights of the legislation.
Funding -- The bill includes the following funding levels:
- $46.8 million for the U.S. Fire Administration
- $547 million for the FIRE grant program
- $115 million for the SAFER grant program
- $30.6 million for the Under Secretary of Preparedness
- $770 million for the UASI grants
- $900 million for state and local assistance grants and law enforcement terrorism prevention grants
- $200 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants
- $2.51 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- $25 million for Urban Search and Rescue teams
FEMA Reform -- The bill includes the following provisions:
- FEMA remains within the Department of Homeland Security and has Coast Guard-type autonomy to preserve its mission, budget and resources
- The FEMA administrator is elevated to the status of deputy secretary
- The FEMA administrator must have demonstrated knowledge and ability in emergency management and homeland security
- The FEMA administrator is appointed the principal advisor to the president and Homeland Security Council for emergency management
- The president is authorized to designate the FEMA administrator as a cabinet member during a natural disaster, act of terrorism or other man-made disaster
- Ten regional offices are authorized to improve the coordination of the national response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism or other man-made disasters
- The U.S. Fire administrator remains an assistant secretary-level position