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Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TESTER. Madam President, this amendment, No. 3350, is to provide additional funds for wildland fire management. The summer of 2012 was a bad fire year, the third worst on record--9.2 million acres were burned. The drought has continued to persist. Projections for 2013 as a fire season will be even worse. The Forest Service budget--when there are bad fire years, they have to rob from other accounts. That was the case this year, with a shortfall of $653 million. This amendment closes that gap and gives the Forest Service the resources for the upcoming fire season, which is due to be a bad one.

The amendment also requires the GAO to recommend alternative new models to better reflect the costs associated with wild land fires because they have been underfunded so much in the past. This will establish a better model and reduce the need for supplemental funding in this account in the future.

Here is the scoop, folks: The damage done by fires, particularly in the West, was extensive and is an emergency. The Forest Service can continue to rob money from other accounts to fight these fires which ends up in poor forest management and even bigger fires.

I encourage everyone's concurrence in this amendment.


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