May 12, 2016

Ranking Member Carson's opening statement at hearing: “Controlling the Rising Cost of Federal Response to Disaster”

Statement of
The Honorable André Carson, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings,
and Emergency Management
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

“Controlling the Rising Cost of Federal Response to Disaster”


May 12, 2016


Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing.


While we have several prominent witnesses today, I would especially like to welcome Mr. Kevin Mickey from the great Hoosier State. Mr. Mickey is the Director of the Polis Institute at the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He is also the new Chair of the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences. I look forward to my colleagues learning  about the work being done in Indianapolis  to address rising disaster costs and losses, plus the latest report from the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council. Mr. Mickey’s national leadership  and his local work are terrific examples of what Indianapolis is doing in the field of emergency management.


Today’s hearing is important because there is no disputing that disaster costs and losses are increasing. Last year, the Subcommittee held several Roundtables on the trends in rising disaster costs and losses, and we discussed some of the causes. These Roundtables were informative and have led to today’s hearing on potential solutions to control disaster costs.


There are many suggestions on how to reverse the trend of increasing costs and losses. One consistent recommendation is investing in mitigation before a disaster occurs. The Multihazard Mitigation Council and the Congressional Budget Office have both found that investing in pre-disaster mitigation saves $3 to $4 for every dollar spent. This is why I introduced HR 830, the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Act to reauthorize the program. I urge the Committee to move this legislation as soon as possible. 


Last year, Congress increased its investment in FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program. I was disappointed that the President did not request a similar amount for Fiscal Year 2017. But Chairman Barletta and I wrote to the Appropriations Committee urging Congress to maintain the Fiscal Year 2016 funding level.  More than 80 Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, joined us in this effort.  I will keep working with my friend and chairman, Mr. Barletta, to  continue leading  efforts that ensure  Congress invests in this valuable program.


Our Nation needs an arsenal of solutions to truly become resilient and to lower disaster costs and losses. Other good bills have been introduced to address this issue and we may hear about some of those ideas today, as well as new proposals  for Congressional action. Even with all the options , we still need an effective strategy  to get the public and private sector to actually take the steps needed to become more resilient locally and nationally.


Finally, the House passed the H.R. 1471, the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015, in February. That bill included a study on disaster costs and losses and requests possible solutions. I look forward to Senate action on this bill before December so that the study can go forward and we can get the data needed to pursue and implement effective solutions .


Thank you.