April 28, 2022

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Leaders Release Statement On Passage of FEMA-Related Bills

Washington, DC- The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has advanced several important Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bills during today’s markup.
“Helping communities prepare for and recover from disasters is an incredibly important part of the work we do on this committee, and the bills we advanced today will make concrete improvements in this critical area,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “We’ve continually heard stories of unprecedented disaster impact and then delays, red tape and other bureaucratic obstacles holding up aid from being delivered to communities reeling from disaster—which is why the bills we advanced today include tools to make the most vulnerable communities more resilient before disaster strikes, add more transparency to the disaster recovery process, make critical benefits accessible to more disaster survivors, and help smaller communities access the relief their residents need.”
“As Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, overseeing FEMA programs is a vital part of my work. Today that work resulted in committee passage of the Post Disaster Mental Health Response Act, a bill brought by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley that will make it possible for states, tribes, and territories to request FEMA’s crisis counseling assistance to benefit the survivors of emergencies,”said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “Currently the Stafford Act only authorizes FEMA to provide crisis counseling assistance to survivors of Major Disaster Declarations. However, in the last decade alone there have been more than 4,000 Emergency Declarations in 37 states for incidents including hurricanes, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks. We must ensure that survivors and communities of disasters that receive Emergency Declarations receive critical mental health support.”
“Today the Committee advanced several important bills including my bill, the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act, which uses a data-driven approach to identify and support communities that are both high-risk for extreme weather events and high-need socioeconomically,” said Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS). “I’m grateful to Representative Garret Graves for his partnership on this bipartisan legislation and to my colleagues for working together to improve resilience across the country.”

More information on the FEMA bills advanced during today’s markup:

H.R. 7242,Community Disaster Resilience Zone Act of 2022 - To require the President to develop and maintain products that show the risk of natural hazards across the United States, and for other purposes. 
This bill requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to maintain a natural hazard assessment program that considers natural hazard risk, loss exposure, social vulnerability, and community resilience. The bill then directs FEMA to designate census tracts that are most vulnerable as Community Disaster Resilience Zones (CDRZ). The bill also authorizes the President flexibility to aide CDRZ-designated communities with a federal cost share adjustment under the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, FEMA’s largest pre-disaster mitigation program.

H.R. 2020, Post-Disaster Online Accountability Act - To provide for an online repository for certain reporting requirements for recipients of Federal disaster assistance, and for other purposes.
This bill would create a new system for tracking federal disaster projects and assistance by establishing a single online repository for federal disaster assistance information. The bill would require agencies that offer disaster assistance to submit information to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and ensure that data is available to the public through on USASpending.gov.

H.R. 5703, Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act - To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to authorize the President to provide professional counseling services to victims of emergencies declared under such Act, and for other purposes.
This bill enables the President to grant FEMA’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) assistance, to the victims of Emergency Declarations (EDs). Currently, the Stafford Act only authorizes the President to provide assistance through the CCP, which provides short-term mental health resources to disaster victims, following a Major Disaster Declaration. Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, which received an ED in 2013, were deemed ineligible for CCP assistance—this experience underscored the need to expand CCP assistance to EDs.

H.R. 7211, Small State and Rural Rescue Act - To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, review a final rule of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and for other purposes.
This bill expands and codifies the responsibilities of FEMA’s Small State and Rural Advocate (SSRA) when helping state and local officials apply for federal disaster aid. The new responsibilities direct the SSRA to help states collect and present material in their disaster or emergency declaration requests including per capita income, poverty status of the impacted population, percentage of the population receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and percentage of the population receiving Supplemental Security Income.

For more information on the Committee’s markup, click here