Fairfax, Va., October 13, 2004 -- Over the Columbus Day weekend, Congress passed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2005. This bill funds several important fire service grant programs, most notably the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (FIRE Act) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program (SAFER).
Congress provided $650 million in funding for the FIRE Act. This is a decrease of $100 million from the appropriation of $750 million that Congress approved in each of the last two years. In addition, Congress funded SAFER at $65 million. SAFER was authorized last year and this is the first time it has received an appropriation.
The cut to FIRE Act funding was expected in light of the overall federal budget and the increasing deficit. In February, at the start of the annual appropriations process, the president initially proposed funding the FIRE Act at $500 million and did not request any funding for SAFER.
In making this appropriation, the committee included strong language directing DHS to retain the program