Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson ensured that critical wildfire suppression funding was included in must-pass legislation to avert a potential debt default and end the federal government shutdown. H.R. 2775 included vital funding—$600 million for the Forest Service and $36 million for the Department of the Interior—to restore wildfire suppression accounts that were emptied during the devastating 2013 fire season. Simpson oversees the budget for these agencies in his role as Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
The funding in H.R. 2775 helps to address what is referred to as “fire borrowing.” When budgeted fire suppression funding is depleted, agencies are forced to take money from other non-fire accounts in order to continue fighting fires.
“Funding to restore budgets that have been drained through fire borrowing is a critical piece of this legislation,” said Simpson. “Not only does this bill reopen all operations at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise and ensure that land managers can contain catastrophic fires that would otherwise put lives and property in peril, but it means that they can do the restoration work and hazardous fuels removal needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires next year.”
Simpson has been working to get this critical funding on the ground for months; his Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for FY14, which was stalled in committee this summer, included a similar provision.
H.R. 2775 was passed by both Houses of Congress yesterday and signed into law.