70.5 F
Washington D.C.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

House Committee Approves Bills to Improve Federal Disaster Response

Nine bills, including three which would improve federal disaster response programs and repeal a rule placing unnecessary burdens on Metropolitan Planning Organizations, were passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Wednesday.

“Today, the committee passed bipartisan, good government bills that ensure our government is more responsive to the needs of Americans trying to rebuild their communities and their lives after disasters, that reduce burdens on state and local governments, and that improve federal agency transparency,” said committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA).

“All of the bills approved by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure … share a common theme—they are bipartisan, common-sense bills many of which will protect local communities by cleaning up well-meaning but ultimately harmful administration policies,” added committee ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “I am happy to support the bills that make improvements to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers disaster assistance, particularly the bill to give certainty to local communities that they won’t have to return funds to FEMA years after a disaster because of a retroactive change in policy. I applaud the members of this committee for working together and look forward to passing these bills out of the House.”

The Disaster Declaration Improvement Act (HR 1665) would direct FEMA to appropriately weigh and consider severe local impact when evaluating whether to recommend a major disaster declaration. The bill would ensure a more level playing field for smaller communities when impacted by severe disasters.

Another bill dealing with FEMA is HR 1678, which would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act by imposing a statute of limitations on FEMA’s ability to recover grant assistance from recipients after a disaster in cases where there is no evidence of fraud, waste or abuse.

Finally, HR 1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017, would modernize FEMA’s management of grant programs to improve applicant accessibility and transparency.

Regarding transportation security and safety, the committee also passed HR 1093, which would require the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Authority provide appropriate congressional notice of safety audits conducted with respect to railroads and rail transit agencies.

Meanwhile, Wednesday the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) also issued a report saying “transportation safety is a top priority, but future safety gains are held back by government red tape that stifles innovation and improvement.”

“Safety is a major concern when it comes to transporting passengers and freight around the country, but too often regulators make it difficult for industries to find new, innovative ways to meet their safety goals,” said Marc Scribner, CEI senior fellow and author of the new report, Toward Performance-Based Transportation Safety Regulation: Focus on Results Instead of Rigid Rules to Improve Safety and Promote Innovation. “The best way to improve transportation safety is to replace government micromanaging with performance goals, which would hold industries more accountable and encourage new technologies and practices that improve safety.”

CEI said in an announcement that, “Despite executive orders from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama instructing regulatory agencies to rely more on performance objectives, federal regulators have made only limited progress. The Federal Railroad Administration, for example, appears willing to adopt badly needed performance-based safety reforms for passenger rail, but when it comes to freight rail, the agency has proposed a limiting, prescriptive rule that requires trains maintain at least two crew members at all times. The CEI report warns such restrictions ignore the future safety gains of fully automated trains and will deter railroads from investing in labor-saving and safety-enhancing automated train technology, since they will be greatly restricted from reducing crew sizes.”

The report also discusses needed reforms dealing with the security and safety of drones, pipelines, and airlines, and recommended “a set of legislative reforms to require outcome-based rulemaking.”

Another bill passed out of the committee is the Coast Guard Improvement and Reform Act of 2017 (HR 1726) which would reorganizes title 14 of the United States Code, the section of the Code pertaining to the operation and administration of the US Coast Guard. It would also establish standard administrative procedures for Coast Guard advisory committees.

More information on today’s mark-ups can be found here.  

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles