Last night, the Senate Republicans released the HEALS legislation, a series of bills to address the response to COVID-19 and its economic effects.
The legislation includes the following provisions to assist local fire and EMS departments:
- $365 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.
- $25 billion for Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to reimburse health care providers and suppliers for their COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue.
- $1 million for a Public Safety Officer Suicide Reporting System.
The legislation does not include provisions that are in the House-passed Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), including the waiver of requirements to the AFG and SAFER grant program like local match requirements and the ability to re-hire and retain firefighters. Nor are tax benefits for volunteer firefighters and the repeal of the requirement to auction public safety spectrum in the T-Band included.
The HEALS legislation is the first step in the negotiations to pass further COVID-19 assistance, and the IAFC will continue to push for our objectives. You can contact your Senator and ask them to pass the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) at www.iafc.org/takeaction.
Ken LaSala is the director of Government Relations at the IAFC