The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved legislation that includes a series of significant reforms designed to make federal disaster assistance more accessible to disaster survivors.
The bill, approved on July 20, would expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ability to make disaster damaged households more resilient; expand FEMA’s authority to provide more adequate and innovative post-disaster housing solutions; ensure a universal disaster application for disaster assistance across all federal agencies; and help provide non-profits and local governments that administer disaster relief with FEMA reimbursement.
Specifically, the legislation calls for FEMA to establish and maintain a web-based interagency electronic information sharing system, to be known as ‘DisasterAssistance.gov’.
DisasterAssistance.gov would facilitate the administration of the universal application for Federal disaster assistance; carry out the purposes of disaster assistance programs swiftly, efficiently, equitably, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and privacy and data protections; and detect, prevent, and investigate waste, fraud, abuse, or discrimination in the administration of disaster assistance programs.
As part of the proposed legislation, FEMA may collect and maintain disaster assistance information received from a disaster assistance agency and share such information with any other disaster assistance agency using the electronic information sharing system.
The bill was introduced by Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chair Dina Titus (D-NV), along with Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA), Jenniffer González Colón (R-PR), and Troy Carter (D-LA).