Push to avoid wildland firefighter pay cuts faces ‘chaos’ in Congress as deadline nears
Congress is back from summer break, and lawmakers have just a couple of weeks to prevent a significant pay cut for thousands of wildland firefighters.
Without action, temporary raises will expire and federal firefighters could see as much as $20,000 cut from their pay. Bills that would permanently raise base pay have bipartisan support in both chambers, and the Senate version has already been voted out of committee.
“There's a lot of chaos, there's a lot of unknowns,” he said. “But I do know that this is an extremely important issue for a lot of our representatives.”
While Alonzo says things remain at a standstill in the House, he’s hopeful legislators will act in time.
“I think that there are enough people that are invested into our federal wildland workforce that will do what they have to do to make sure that we don't lose it,” he said.
In August, the Biden administration sent a supplemental funding request to Congress that included $60 million to extend temporary raises through December.
Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado has pushed for a number of firefighter reforms, and recently told CNN that extending temporary raises instead of making them permanent is just “kicking the can down the road.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.