September 13, 2022

House Passes Rep. Neguse’s Bipartisan Wildfire Recovery Act

The bipartisan and bicameral bill would provide support for community recovery after wildfires; hear Congressman Neguse discuss its importance here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), Co-Chairs and Founders of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives passed their legislation to help ensure impacted communities have the resources they need to recover from devastating wildfires. The bipartisan 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. The bill is sponsored by California Senator Alex Padilla in the U.S. Senate.  

“Coloradans have been impacted by multiple natural disasters in recent years, from the devastating wildfire season in 2020 to the record-breaking Marshall Fire just this past year. For them and for all the communities across this country impacted by wildfires, floods, and more, we must ensure full and adequate federal support for recovery,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Wildfire Recovery Act helps to support state and local governments in cases of disaster, covering the costs of critical services needed for protection and recovery. The strong bipartisan support for this bill – demonstrated by the House vote today – gives me hope that Colorado families and communities will never again have to navigate recovery alone.”

“I am proud of the progress we have made in the bipartisan Wildfire Caucus to pass legislation that will provide flexibility to FEMA and move recovery funds to assist as soon as possible after a fire. The Wildfire Recovery Act allows relief funds to flow more quickly to communities across the West and in Utah when they are most needed after a disaster.” said Congressman Curtis.  

“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 urgent than ever that we act quickly to stop fires when they break out, and ensure our state and local leaders have the tools to protect communities after they happen. I’m glad to see this momentum behind this vital legislation in the House and will keep working to push it over the finish line in the Senate.”

FMAG grants are authorized by FEMA to reimburse the costs of fighting a fire, and communities across Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District have received several of these grants during recent record-breaking wildfire seasons. 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. 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. 

Representative Neguse successfully passed the Wildfire Recovery Act through the House of Representatives for the first time on July 29, 2022, as part of the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act.

Learn more about the bill and find messages of support, here 

Background

Representative Neguse, the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, has emerged as a leader amongst 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. 

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