U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) underlined the significance of his newly enacted bill, the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, H.R. 949, during an April 5 event at the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company in Pennsylvania with local first responders.

H.R. 949, which boosts higher education financial aid for the children of fallen police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, became law on March 23 as part of the federal spending package, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, H.R. 1625.

“This bipartisan legislation will ease the financial burden on the families of our community’s fallen heroes,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “This has been a top priority of mine to support our first responders and their families, and I’m thrilled that we’ve gotten this bill across the finish line for them.”

The bipartisan H.R. 949, introduced by Rep. Fitzpatrick in February 2017 and coauthored by U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), amends the Higher Education Act of 1966 to strike the expected family contribution (EFC) for Pell Grant eligibility for children of first responders who die in the line of duty. Pennsylvania U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, had introduced companion legislation, S. 597, in the U.S. Senate.

“As a member of the law enforcement community for nearly a decade and a half and an EMT, I know firsthand the service and sacrifice of our nation’s first responders,” Rep. Fitzpatrick told event attendees. “While we can never repay those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, we can make it our priority to support their families and their children.”

H.R. 949 had garnered the support of several organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, among others.

Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters, praised the legislation for helping to alleviate the financial burdens faced by families of firefighters and emergency medical responders who have died in the line of duty.

“I commend Representative Fitzpatrick for his work on behalf of the children of our fallen heroes,” he said.