Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Actby Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick
Posted on 2014-01-08
FITZPATRICK. I thank my friend from Pennsylvania, Mr.
[[Page H66]] Barletta, for organizing this Special Order tonight.
I have to say that I never assumed it would be easy to get an answer quickly from a massive bureaucracy of the Federal Government like the Internal Revenue Service, but I have to admit that I never thought it would be this hard either, especially on a question important to the safety of communities across my district and across our great country.
My question to the previous IRS chief--and more recently the new agency head--has been a simple one: Can you clarify the rules within the President's health care law as they relate to volunteer firefighters? As my colleagues here tonight have noted, confusion exists within the first responder community about the effects of the health care law's mandates and the IRS's definition of an employee, which currently, as we have heard tonight, covers volunteer firefighters.
Yet the question goes unanswered, and I can't offer any information or comfort to the fire departments who would be the one's hurt by the misguided mandate. One way or the other, they just want to know so they can keep on serving their communities.
I would like to read just two emails of many, many emails that I have heard from my district about the importance of this situation.
The first is from Charles Rumble, who is president of the Plumsteadville Fire Company: We are an all-volunteer fire company that is being penalized for our ability to attract and retain members to protect the community. There is no way that we--or our community that supports us--can bear that cost of offering insurance. We would be forced to shut down and our community forced to seek substantially more costly and diminished fire protection alternatives.
From Frank Farry, who is chief of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company, who is also an elected State representative in Pennsylvania: The administration and the IRS have been aware of this issue for months but yet have not taken any steps to address it. The volunteer fire service already faces many challenges, and if the ACA is applied to it, the volunteer fire departments will have their backs broken.
Mr. Speaker, waiting for an answer isn't good enough, especially for people with jobs as important as our volunteer firefighters. That is why I was proud to join with Congressman Barletta and so many others gathered here this evening in introducing the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act to try to address this problem legislatively.
I know we all remain optimistic that the administration will address our concerns. We hope that the IRS takes action and takes action swiftly. If not, we are prepared to do so in this House.