WASHINGTON – The President signed into law today the bipartisan Protecting America’s First Responders Act, legislation that Senator Maggie Hassan cosponsored to better ensure that law enforcement officers and first responders who become disabled in the line of duty, as well as the families of those who died in the line of duty, have prompt access to the benefits that they deserve.
“New Hampshire’s law enforcement officers protect our communities with dedication and bravery, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they and their families are supported in the heartbreaking event of injury or death in the line of duty,” said Senator Hassan. “I am glad that the President signed this bipartisan bill into law, which will ensure that law enforcement, first responders, and families who have lost loved ones can get the benefits they deserve.”
The Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021, introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), makes important updates to the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program (PSOB), a program Congress established in 1976 to provide death benefits to survivors of officers who die in the line of duty.
Over the years, the law has been amended to provide disability and education benefits, and to expand the pool of officers who are eligible for these benefits. However, a number of first responders and law enforcement officers who should qualify have not received benefits under this program due to gaps in coverage.
The Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021:
Senator Hassan is committed to providing law enforcement officers, first responders, and service members with the support that they deserve, especially when their health is compromised in the line of duty. In 2019, bipartisan legislation became law that Senator Hassan cosponsored to restore grant funding for law enforcement support services and allow grant recipients to use funds to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for law enforcement officers. Senator Hassan also joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in reintroducing the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, which passed the Senate last Congress, that directs federal agencies to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit, and prevent exposure to PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally break down. Senator Hassan also introduced the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM Act), bipartisan legislation that fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).