May 11, 2021

Grassley on Protecting Our First Responders

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On Protecting Our First Responders
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
 
I recently reintroduced the Protecting America’s First Responders Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by 11 of my colleagues that passed the Senate by unanimous consent last Congress.
 
In this new Congress, it’s time we once again turn our attention to the public service officers across our nation who steadfastly serve and protect their fellow Americans.
 
These great men and women fulfill some of our most vital and irreplaceable needs.
 
Their duties affect every part of our communities.
 
We’ve seen that clearly over the past year as their services have been instrumental in keeping our communities safe during this pandemic.
 
Our firefighters dedicate themselves to braving harrowing fires.
 
Our police officers rush headlong into danger to protect the innocent.
 
Emergency first responders dutifully come to the aid of the injured no matter the threat.
 
Despite these vast responsibilities, their purpose is the same: to serve and protect their communities.
 
We know this call to service comes with great risk. 
 
We in Congress will forever be indebted to the Capitol police officers who suffered substantial injuries and even gave their lives on these very grounds.
 
There’s no way for us to truly comprehend or repay the sacrifice made by any of these officers and their loved ones left behind.
 
Yet knowing this, our public safety officers willingly accept the possibility of injury, and if need be, lay down their lives to fulfill their oaths.
 
We owe our firefighters, law enforcement and all our first responders a great deal.
 
They don’t hesitate to take action when we need them to, and we must be equally steadfast in coming to their aid by ensuring that those officers disabled or killed in the line of duty receive what they’re due.
 
They must receive what we in Congress first promised them four and a half decades ago through the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit Program.
 
The original PSOB program was created in 1976.
 
Yet since that time it’s been plagued with unclear and out-of-date regulations, forcing the families of our fallen heroes to continue suffering through technical interpretations and drawn-out claims processes.
 
This cannot continue.
 
My bill, the Protecting America’s First Responder’s Act, ensures that disability claims are consistent with Congress’ original intent for the PSOB program. 
 
It received wide bipartisan support here in the Senate last Congress.
 
Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the House.
 
Over the last year, I’ve worked closely with Congressman Pascrell to alleviate opposition and work through amendments that can pass the House.
 
I’m confident that, with these changes, it will reach the president’s desk quickly.
 
The 117th Congress has a fresh opportunity to make this bill law and there are many waiting for us to do so.
 
I introduce this bill with strong support from organizations including the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the National Association of Police Organizations.
 

I urge my colleagues to once again vote for the Protecting America’s First Responders Act, thereby fulfilling our original promise to honor those whose lives were forever altered by their service.