Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, applauded the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for passing the Senate companion, the Fire Suppression Improvement Act, to his bill, the Wildfire Recovery Act. The bill, which is led by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), increases flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to better support local communities. The widely favored bill passed through the Senate Committee with unanimous consent.
On September 13, 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Wildfire Recovery Act for the first time as a stand-alone bill and the second time overall. It first passed as part of the landmark Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act in late July.
"As representatives from Western communities, Senator Padilla and I have seen firsthand the historic wildfires that have devastated communities across our respective states. We must continue to assist our threatened towns and communities in as many ways as possible, and I am grateful to Senator Padilla for his leadership on this important legislation in the Senate," said Congressman Joe Neguse.
"The threat from wildfires is constant and increasingly devastating in California and states across the Western United States," said Senator Padilla. "As we face a dangerous year-round fire season under record breaking drought conditions, it's more important than ever to ensure our state and local leaders have the resources they need to protect communities. I'm glad to see momentum behind this vital legislation building in the Senate and I will continue advocating for its passage until it reaches the President's desk."
The Wildfire Recovery Act would increase flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to bring in additional resources for communities as they rebuild from wildfire damage. FMAG grants are authorized by FEMA to reimburse the costs of fighting a fire. The grants allow the state to submit receipts for reimbursement of 75 percent of eligible costs to fight the fires, which includes field camp expenses, equipment use and repair, mobilization, and other materials and supplies. Unlike some other FEMA programs related to disasters that provide at least 75% of the total costs, there is no current flexibility for the FMAG program cost share above 75%. The Wildfire Recovery Act grants flexibility to the program, allowing the Federal cost-share to be raised above 75% when the wildfire reaches a qualifying threshold, to bring more resources to communities in need.
Learn more about the bill and find messages of support, HERE.
Representative Neguse, the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, has emerged as a leader among his colleagues in the fight for increased federal support for communities recovering from fires. Most recently, the Colorado Congressman secured the passage of his Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, H.R. 5118, through the House. H.R. 5118 is a monumental legislative package that would significantly increase investments to tackle wildfires, boost wildland firefighter pay, and fund resiliency and mitigation projects for communities impacted by recent climate-induced disasters.
Following Colorado's record-setting wildfire seasons in 2020 and 2021, Representative Neguse has worked tirelessly to bring federal resources home to recovering communities and advocate for increased support for wildland firefighters, wildfire prevention, and forest management. He serves as Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where his Restoring Our Lands and Communities Agenda prioritizes addressing the causes and impacts of wildfires.