CSAC 2nd Vice President Gore Delivers Testimony on Capitol Hill
May 23, 2019
CSAC 2nd Vice President and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore testified Wednesday on behalf of the National Association of Counties (NACo) before a congressional subcommittee to discuss disaster preparedness. The hearing, which was conducted by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, focused on FEMA’s ongoing implementation of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA; PL 115-254). The comprehensive new law, which Congress approved in October of 2018, aims to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
The first panel featured testimony from Dr. Daniel Kaniewski, who currently serves as the Deputy Administrator for Resilience at FEMA, the agency’s second ranking official. Dr. Kaniewski used his time to highlight several key provisions of the DRRA and described how the new policies fit into the goals identified in FEMA’s Strategic Plan. According to his statements, FEMA has made significant progress in implementing the new law. This assertion was disputed, however, by Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee, respectively, who appeared visibly frustrated at the current pace of implementation.
Supervisor Gore was joined on the second panel by representatives from other state and local partners, including the National Emergency Management Association, the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, the Build Strong Coalition, and the National Association of Home Builders. Among other things, Supervisors Gore and others urged FEMA to expedite implementation of key reforms, particularly the establishment of a National Public Infrastructure Pre-disaster Hazard Mitigation Program – referred to by FEMA as Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC).
Pursuant to the DRRA, BRIC will replace the need for annual appropriations for pre-disaster mitigation by establishing a new program that will be funded as a six percent set-aside from disaster grants under the Stafford Act. Once fully implemented, this program is expected to provide a greater and more reliable federal source of disaster preparedness funding. However, Dr. Kaniewski indicated that the program would be a major undertaking for the agency, and as such, cautioned that it would take additional time to develop new regulations. FEMA anticipates that it will provide formal notice of the program by the end of 2020.
A webcast of the hearing, along with the accompanying testimony from the seven witnesses can be accessed here.