Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Senator Kamala Harris has a strong record supporting our nation’s fire fighters and emergency medical personnel.
Her committee assignments give Harris a strong voice on issues important to the IAFF in the Senate.
Her seat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gives Senator Harris a significant role in determining American policy and priorities as they relates to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including issues related to the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, preparedness and response issues, including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and federal worker issues, including federal fire fighters.
In her role on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Harris conducts significant oversight and influence over the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program, which provides death and disability benefits for fire fighters and other public safety officers who die or are permanently disabled in the line of duty.
Senator Harris has fought for legislation to provide fire fighters the tools, resources and benefits they need and deserve to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay safe and healthy.
She voted for a spending package to combat coronavirus that includes $100 million in AFG grants for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment to protect fire fighters and $100 billion to reimburse healthcare providers, including EMS agencies for relevant healthcare expenses. (HR 748, 3/25/2020)
Harris also voted for a spending package including $950 million for grants to states and localities to conduct preparedness and response activities related to the virus, $10 million for training to prevent and reduce the exposure of workers, including first responders, approximately $500 million to procure necessary medical supplies, including PPE and $300 million in contingency funding for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (HR 6074, 3/5/2020)
Senator Harris serves as a leading voice on wildfire issues in the Senate, authoring the Wildfire Defense Act to provide communities and fire fighters the resources they need to protect their communities, including establishing community wildfire defense plans in cooperation with fire fighters, providing fire fighters with improved access and evacuation routes and assessing potential impediments to emergency radio communications.
Harris voted to fund the Firefighter Cancer Registry, establishing a one-of-a-kind database for cancer in the fire service. (S. Amdt. 3705 to S.Amdt. 3695 to HR 6157, 8/20/2018)
She also cosigned a letter to appropriators requesting full funding for the Firefighter Cancer Registry in Fiscal Year 2020. (4/15/2019)
9/11 Health and Compensation
Senator Harris cosponsored the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act to extend and fund the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which provides compensation to those sick or injured as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11 or the subsequent rescue and recovery efforts through 2090, essentially making the program permanent. (S 546, 116th Congress)
Harris voted to permanently reauthorize the VCF and voted against amendments that would undermine or underfund the program. (HR 1327, 7/23/19; Lee Amdt. 928 to HR 1327, 7/23/19; Paul Amdt. 929 to HR 1327, 7/23/19)
In addition, Harris voted for a continuing resolution that includes language to raise a statutory cap on the number of participants in the World Trade Center Health Program from 25,000 to 75,000, allowing 9/11 responders not currently enrolled in the program to participate. (HR 4378, 9/26/19)
Health and Safety Issues
Harris voted for legislation, now law, that allows airports the option to switch from using Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) foams to non-toxic foams, protecting airport fire fighters from exposure (House Amdt. to Senate Amdt. to HR 302, 10/3/2018)
She cosponsored legislation to develop guidelines and best practices for fire fighters to protect them from exposure to the toxic chemical, PFAS. (S 2353, 116th Congress)
Senator Harris cosponsored a bill that requires the Department of Labor to establish an occupational safety and health standard requiring employers to develop and implement a plan for protecting healthcare workers and social service workers, including EMS personnel, from workplace violence. (S 851, 116th Congress)
Harris led efforts to safeguard fireground communications by cosigning a letter to Senate leadership, urging them to act to pass the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (S 2748), returning valuable communications spectrum to fire fighters. (4/3/2020)
Senator Harris voted multiple times against legislation to eliminate, in part or full, the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which would negatively impact the ability of state and local governments to fund local priorities, such as fire departments. (HR 1, 12/20/2017, Amdt. No. 1393 to H.Con.Res. 71, 10/19/2017)
She voted to block legislation that would modify or eliminate the SALT deduction (Amdt. No. 1141 to H.Con.Res. 71, 10/19/2017)
In addition, she cosponsored a bill to repeal the dollar limitation on the deduction for SALT. (S 437, 116th Congress)
Federal Fire Fighter Issues
Senator Harris cosponsored legislation to increase by 3.6% the rate of basic pay for federal employees, including federal fire fighters. (S 426, 116th Congress)
Harris cosigned a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper expressing opposition to President Trump’s memorandum to the Department of Defense (DoD) undermining the collective bargaining rights of federal workers. (3/4/2020)