AFG and SAFER Reauthorization Bill Passes Senate, Sent to President to Become Law

On June 18, by a vote of 88 to 2, the Senate passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S.870), a bill to reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, as well as the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) through fiscal year (FY) 2028. The legislation also extended the sunset date for AFG and SAFER to September 30, 2030. The bill has been sent to the President to be signed into law. Once signed, these programs will be protected for the next several years, ensuring that the fire and emergency services can continue to access vital federal support.

The final passage of this bill resulted from a coordinated, multi-year advocacy effort by CFSI, members of CFSI’s National Advisory Committee, and our Capitol Hill partners. The path was long and challenging, but working together, fire and emergency services organizations prevailed in reauthorizing the grant programs.

“The core mission of CFSI is consensus building, and for over 24 years, we have worked collaboratively with the other national organizations to preserve and fund these two programs, as well as the United States Fire Administration,” said Bill Webb, CFSI’s Executive Director. “It is our honor to have led this most recent effort to reauthorize AFG, SAFER, and USFA in this challenging political environment.”

The Path to Reauthorization

The effort to reauthorize AFG, SAFER, and USFA began in 2022 during the 117th Congress. The fire and emergency services groups worked with our Hill partners on the text of a reauthorization bill to introduce it and move through the legislative process. Despite attempts to enact a bill in 2022, the legislation stalled, so we regrouped and started the process again at the start of the 118th Congress.

The 118th Congress has been a challenging Congress for legislating. Still, even with the complicated political terrain, CFSI and our partners remained steadfast in communicating the importance of AFG, SAFER, and USFA to the Hill.

The path towards passage in the 118th Congress started quickly, with the Senate introducing, marking up, and passing a bill in the spring of 2023. However, this process was not without its complications. CFSI and our fire service partners worked tirelessly with our Senate champions to overcome hurdles and move the measure through the legislative process.

The bill was transmitted to the House, where the fire groups worked with our House partners to determine the best path forward. Despite tight voting margins, a tense political climate, and challenging legislative timetables and requirements, the fire organizations and our Hill champions never wavered. The House introduced a companion bill, moved it through the committee process, and eventually passed it on May 8, 2024, sending it back to the Senate for final approval.

The vote on June 18 in the Senate chamber marked the culmination of a two-year effort to deliver a reauthorization measure to the White House for the President’s signature.

Hill Champions

The success of this effort illustrates the importance of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus in uniting members of Congress to work together on fire service issues regardless of political affiliations. Members join the caucus to learn how to best support their local fire and EMS departments. These members are often the first to put their time and energy into advancing fire service legislation, including the Fire Grants and Safety Act. We owe a debt of gratitude to a large group of members who were instrumental in passing this legislation.

They include:

House and Senate Leadership who made the votes on the Fire Grants and Safety Act possible:

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer*
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell*
  • Speaker of the House Mike Johnson*
  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise*
  • House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

Committee Leadership who were original cosponsors of the bill and ensured that the legislation was able to move through the House and Senate committee processes successfully:

  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters*
  • House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Frank Lucas*
  • House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren*

Congressional Fire Services Caucus Co-Chairs who demonstrate their strong support for the fire and emergency services every day and played vital roles in supporting this legislation:

  • Senator Susan Collins* – Lead Republican on the Senate version of the Fire Grants and Safety Act
  • Senator Tom Carper* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act and a negotiator on the bill
  • Senator Jon Tester* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act and Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus in the 118th Congress
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act
  • Congressman Bill Pascrell* – Lead Democrat on the House version of the Fire Grants and Safety Act
  • Congressman Steny Hoyer* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act
  • Congressman Mike Bost* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act
  • Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick* – original cosponsor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act

Lead sponsor of the House version of the Fire Grants and Safety Act:

  • Congressman Tom Kean*

* indicates that the member is part of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus

Additionally, CFSI would like to offer a special thanks to the staff of the above offices who understand the needs and challenges of America’s fire and emergency services and worked hard every day (and many nights) to move this legislation forward.

Finally, CFSI would like to thank those members of Congress who supported and voted for the bill during the committee and floor processes. We appreciate your understanding of the need to support America’s fire and EMS personnel.

Next Steps

CFSI looks forward to the Fire Grants and Safety Act being signed into law by the President, ensuring that AFG, SAFER, and USFA will be protected for the next several years.

CFSI will continue to work to support robust funding for these programs and USFA.