MALONEY IMPROVES DISASTER RESPONSE PROCEDURES

Jul 11, 2002
Press Release
Washington, DC - Today, during a markup in the House Government Reform Committee of HR 5005, The Homeland Security Act of 2002, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney passed an amendment that will reform federal disaster response policies. Her amendment passed by an unanimous vote.
"This is the ultimate insurance policy. My amendment expands authority and flexibility to the Secretary of Homeland Security so that people won't get caught in red tape and bureaucratic delays. I want to thank my colleagues in the Government Reform Committee for taking action, and working on real reform," said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney in a statement today.

Representative Maloney explained the importance of the amendment, saying, "While Congress and the Administration took many actions to help New York after 9/11, a series of complications and delays we witnessed showed weaknesses in the process. The disaster response system is currently not prepared for the challenges that come with a disaster of this magnitude. People's hearts were in the right place to help, but the system was not set up to get the job done quickly."

Background:

HR 5005- The Homeland Security Act of 2002 - Establishes a Department of Homeland Security (HLS), as an executive department of the United States, headed by a Secretary of Homeland Security who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate.

Purpose of Mrs. Maloney's Amendment:
In response to the attacks of September 11th Congress took a series of actions to bring relief to effected areas. These legislative actions along with existing statutes, including the Robert T. Stafford Relief and Emergency Act and the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, formed the framework of the federal government's response. The magnitude of these attacks and the need for Congress to take action before certain relief could be delivered added to the challenge of the recovery efforts and exposed critical weaknesses in federal authority to respond.

Three reports, Federal Disaster Policies After Terrorist Strike: Issues and Options for Congress (CRS June 24, 2002), Review of Studies of the Economic Impact of the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center (GAO 5/29/02) and Impact of the WTC Attack on the New York City Economy: An Update (NY Federal Reserve 4/18/02), are comprehensive examinations of federal disaster relief efforts and policy following the attacks and serve as the foundation of the research for this amendment. The amendment and other materials can be viewed in their entirety at https://maloney.house.gov/. (See links below)

The Amendment to the bill would give the new Secretary of Homeland Security the options to:

(1) Establish a coordinating office and appoint a disaster recovery director. Also establishes role of the coordinating office. This assures efficient use of Federal resources throughout the recovery process and single point-of-contact for local and state officials.


(2) Provide reimbursement for Federal high security alerts. Following a disaster, response to alerts are critical and more costly for effected localities due to additional overtime costs. The effected area will already have its financial resources thinned.


(3) Provide grants to a local governments that suffer substantial losses in tax revenues. After a disaster, expenditures of local government are the same or more despite the loss of tax and other revenue. This grant program is similar to the loan provision under the Stafford Act.


(4) Authorize reimbursements to a school system. Lost instructional time, counseling, clean up, relocation, food spoilage, and replacement equipment can be reimbursed. There has been disputes of current authority to provide these services under the Stafford Act.


(5) Provide grants, equipment, supplies, and personnel, to any non-profit medical facility. In an effort assist in disaster efforts and loss of revenues do to cancellation of other services, hospitals suffer a variety of losses following a major disaster. This would give authority to the Secretary to reimburse them for expenses following a homeland security event.


(6) Provide limited reimbursement for for-profit telecommunication and phone services and for-profit utilities. Repairs to lost or damaged infrastructure and property that is beyond the insurance coverage of a for-profit utility may be reimbursed. This reimbursement can speed repair efforts and spare consumers from increased costs.


(7) Authorize testing of indoor air quality. Protects the health of inhabitants and workers in the declared areas. Clarifies authority of EPA after a disaster.


(8) Mandates OMB to account for disaster assistance.

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