FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 19, 2023
Contact: Press_Paul@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate voted on U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) Support the Reinstatement of Trained and Effective Firefighters amendment which makes funding available to fire departments that terminated firefighters for refusing vaccination or voicing opposition to COVID-19 mandates only if they offer full reinstatement and backpay to those who lost their jobs. The amendment was considered as part of S.870, the Fire Grants and Safety Act.
Ahead of the vote, Dr. Paul delivered remarks on the Senate Floor. Below are excerpts from his remarks. You can also watch his full remarks HERE, and find full text of Dr. Paul’s amendment HERE.
“It seems bizarre and contradictory to provide financial support to increase fire department staffing when decisions were made to terminate trained and effective firefighters for no good reason. Firefighters tend to be young and fit, the very people who had the least to worry about COVID-19. They also tend to be male, and young males are the group most likely to suffer the severe side effect of myocarditis.
“These people were never a threat to their communities. On the contrary, they served their communities bravely and made their neighbors safer. What was done to them, what was done to police, what was done to first responders was shameful and we should stand together to make sure it never happens again.
“To that end, I offer an amendment that will restore sanity and compassion to government.
“My amendment would make any agency that punished firefighters for refusing a COVID vaccine or for exercising First Amendment rights to oppose the mandates ineligible for these grants.
“But my amendment also includes an important exception – a department can receive these grants again if the department offers full reinstatement and back pay to any firefighter or medic who was punished.
“If you want to support firefighters, if you want to support your communities, if you want to support safety, you should support my amendment.”
One of the purposes of the Fire Grants and Safety Act is to fund the hiring of more firefighters. But over the last few years, even as these grants were awarded, firefighters around the country found themselves with a choice: submit to COVID vaccine mandates and forgo your First Amendment rights to voice opposition to them or lose your livelihood.
In New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, among other places, firefighters lost their jobs simply because they insisted upon living according to their conscience. Firing trained and effective firefighters for no good reason is dangerous, particularly when serious shortages of firefighters are reported throughout the country.
Dr. Paul’s amendment would make the grants provided by this bill available to fire departments that dismissed or discharged firefighters for refusing COVID vaccination or voicing opposition to COVID mandates only if they offer full reinstatement and back pay to firefighters who lost their jobs.