WASHINGTON — In its latest effort to reduce the national deficit, the federal government is recalling all Assistance to Firefighter Grants issued during the past five years. The recall is set to take effect immediately.
"We know that in many cases the money was already spent," said a House Ways and Means Committee spokesman. "We'll be hiring an additional 50,000 government employees to audit grant recipients and recoup the equipment bought with the grant money."
For the first time in modern history, both houses of Congress passed the bill unanimously without riders or long-winded soliloquies about how much each member loves his country more than the other.
The government plan calls for repossessing all of the equipment bought with AFG money and reselling it at auction.
"We understand the hardship this places on fire departments, and so have introduced a buy-back grant program where departments can apply for money to buy equipment at auction," the Ways and Means spokesman said. "We are also looking at funding sources to pay for relettering fire apparatus where necessary."
Meanwhile, fire chiefs across the country are resorting to any means they can to provide fire protection. One chief, who asked not to be named, plans to recommission museum pieces.
"We've got a few pickup trucks that can pull the old horse-drawn hose reels and pumps," the chief said. "Our boys will have to put their backs into those hand pumps, but I've assured the mayor that our community can expect the same level fire protection that they’ve been used to."
Although economists are divided on the merits of the deficit-reduction plan, Wall Street loved the news, posting the largest single-day gain in 10 years.