Senator Rand Paul Thanks Firefighters for Help after Voting to Cut Their Pay


Contact: Matt Dorsey
Phone: (202) 550-6987

July 21, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Rand Paul thanked firefighters for responding to fire at his office in Kentucky. This show of gratitude comes after he voted to cut the pay for federal firefighters on Wednesday in a Senate hearing where Paul serves as ranking member. While all other members of the committee supported a stopgap measure to prevent the pay cut in October, Paul was the sole holdout in a vote of 10-1.

The vote to advance the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act, which will prevent federal wildland firefighters from enduring a cut to base pay by 50% up to $20,000, moved forward without Paul. The bipartisan bill is designed to prevent a mass exodus of firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior by estimates of 30% to 50% or higher.

In the hearing Wednesday, Paul stated that he did not understand why firefighter pay needed protection from the pay cliff. Paul continued to say that he wanted to meet with wildland firefighters despite efforts by wildland firefighters who tried to meet with Paul twice this year during legislative events when firefighters used personal time to talk with Congress.

“The federal wildland fire services are antiquated. Federal agencies are working hard to prevent a major loss of talent and response capabilities, but we need Congress to prevent a pay cliff that will happen on September 30,” stated Steve Lenkart, executive director of the National Federation of Federal Employees, a federal labor union that represents federal wildland firefighters. “We are talking about wages that are below many states’ minimum wage, and it doesn’t get much better as they move up in the ranks. Highly trained firefighters are leaving for state and local fire departments or leaving the fire service altogether in order to afford a place to live and feed a family. It really is a true crisis as the country endures more wildfires each year.”