At 5 a.m. on Saturday the U.S. Senate passed a budget bill for the first time in four years. It would provide funding for the federal government including the wildland fire programs of the five major land management agencies in fiscal year 2014, which begins October 1, 2013.
The bill included an amendment offered by Colorado Senator Mark Udall which increased the funding for wildland fire programs, providing $100 million more than originally specified in the bill. In a press release issued on March 21 the Senator said the amendment would:
…increase the funding availability for fighting wildfires and modernizing the air tanker fleet. … Our amendment would ensure that firefighting resources are given top priority. This will help give Federal land agencies the tools they need to save lives, homes, and property across the country.
Here is the official summary of the amendment:
Udall (CO) amendment to provide additional suppression resources to the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior for the protection of communities, homes, water supplies, utility infrastructure, and natural resources from catastrophic wildfires. (#239) Agreed to in Senate by Voice Vote.
The Senate version of the bill passed by one vote, 50 to 49, but it will face a tough test in the Republican dominated House of Representatives where it could be modified. Or if the House never passes any version of an appropriations bill for next fiscal year, the federal government would be back to a continuing resolution with little or no change to funding levels for the land management agencies.
Thanks go out to Tim.