Preventing a Shutdown that Threatens Ohio Fire Departments

The last thing Ohioans want is another shutdown that puts our safety at risk — but that’s exactly where we are headed if extreme factions of Congress don’t put partisanship aside and avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the next week.

A DHS shutdown would hit Ohio’s fire departments particularly hard. With funding for more than 500 Ohio fire departments in jeopardy, I am fighting to ensure our Ohio fire departments have the resources they need.

Our fire departments rely on funding through three key DHS grant programs to keep our firefighters safe. These grants provide our fire departments with the funds that help them purchase essential equipment, protective gear, and emergency vehicles.

But unless Congress acts, funding for the entire Department of Homeland Security will run out on February 27th.

This would trigger a department-wide shutdown, and programs including the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) and Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) would be left in the lurch.

Staff for these critical programs could be furloughed, leaving our firehouses waiting needlessly for critical grants to be approved. More than 500 Ohio fire departments have applied for a combined total of over $100 million in federal funding through the AFG program alone this year.

Because federal grants often constitute a significant portion of fire department funds, any delay could serve as a major blow.

If furloughs happen, even when the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) opens again, it will take time for employees to get these grant programs back up and running — delaying these important programs even further.

That’s why I’m supporting a clean bill — free of partisan add-ons designed to spark a fight over immigration policy — that would fully-fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of this fiscal year. I am urging all of my Senate colleagues to prevent an avoidable fight from shutting down DHS and putting our firefighters at risk.

This bill reflects the bipartisan compromise that was agreed to in December by members from both chambers of Congress and is free of partisan policy riders.

Ohio first responders act without delay. They deserve the same from the federal government.