Firefighters and First Responders
As Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I have been a leading advocate of funding the needs of our fire service. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program (SAFER) are key to improving the readiness of our nation’s firefighters and emergency service workers.
My efforts to ensure local safety officials have the critical equipment and financial support they need include: a) serving as the Lead Republican in support of the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act to reauthorize AFG and SAFER grants; b) fighting for full funding of the grants when cuts were included in the President’s recent budget proposals; and c) introducing legislation – the Volunteer Emergency Services Recruitment & Retention Act (H.R. 1171) – to streamline tax treatment of certain deferred compensation plans (e.g. the Length of Service Award Program) for volunteer firefighters and emergency responders, which increases the plans’ accessibility and recruitment value for townships. I also worked to make sure volunteer firefighters and first responders were not inadvertently caught up in Obamacare requirements.
Even though our current debt crisis makes fiscal restraint critical, we must ensure that firefighters and first responders have the funding they need to continue protecting and serving our communities.
Reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
As a lead sponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, I am pleased to report that the bill was signed into law in December 2015. The law extends the World Trade Center Health Program for 75-years, so that 9/11 first responders and survivors will continue to receive monitoring and treatment for their illnesses. The law also provides the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) with $4.6 billion to provides compensation to first responders and survivors for economic loss experienced due to 9/11-related illnesses.
Passing this bill was a long hard fight for the brave cops, firefighters and construction workers who put their lives and health on the line at Ground Zero and many of whom made numerous trips to Washington in support of the legislation. They deserve the very best medical care and treatment and I was proud to be part of this successful effort.