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house Bill H.R. 1471

It’s the Great FEMA Bill, Charlie Brown

Argument in favor

FEMA is the end of the line when it comes to natural disasters in the U.S. This bill reauthorizes several of its most important programs that save lives. We need them.

Cary's Opinion
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05/02/2015
Feed me Seymour, feed me all night long. The more you feed it, the bigger it gets and the more it demands to be FED.
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04/03/2017
This is a bipartisan bill that is well designed and addresses significant issues to all of the American people. This is another example of legislators doing their jobs correctly. This is what we need more of in Congress!!
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Evercraft's Opinion
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04/29/2015
Either these things are passed as a bunch of small bills or in a package like this. Americans have a problem understanding size, we think if we buy three things for $300 each, that's better than one thing for $700... It's not. Disaster funding is happening either way.
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Argument opposed

Yes, keeping FEMA up and running is important. But this is a whole lot of stuff in one bill, and not all of it is equally important. Let’s try breaking it up and figuring it out.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/23/2015
We need to cut government spending and reduce its scope--of which this bill accomplishes neither.
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Tony's Opinion
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04/24/2015
Every rational person can see that government, all levels of government, have a spending problem. Every rational person says something needs to be done to stop it. So why does nothing ever change? Take a stand, start now...right here.
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Stephen's Opinion
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02/29/2016
Despite the claims of some people, FEMA does not protect anyone from a disaster since it steps in after the fact. FEMA does not respond in a timely manner; many communities had to wait years for FEMA aid. The money would be better spent on local response efforts.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed February 29th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
    IntroducedMarch 19th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 1471?

In the name of readying the U.S. for disaster, this bill re-authorizes a number of programs and funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


First, the bill would reauthorize FEMA through fiscal year 2018, maintaining the current funding levels — almost $950 million dollars every year. 


Next, the National Advisory Council would be directed to conduct a study of the costs — in terms of lives, objects and dollars alike — of disasters. The ultimate goal would be to reduce these disaster-related costs. The study — conducted with the help of academics, insurance industry professionals, warning system manufacturers and construction experts — would be expected to offer recommendations for:   examine the way a number of trends related to disasters including:

  • How disaster funds are used;
  • How these costs can be reduced;
  • What should be considered a "disaster";
  • How changing demographics and old infrastructure are impacting disasters and the responses to them; 


The National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (USAR) would be reauthorized — a system that is pretty much what it sounds like: a program to rescue people trapped in collapsed structures in urban areas after a disaster. The reauthorization comes with new features, like search and rescue resources for local/regional governments, and allowing non-government personnel to participate in local search and rescue task forces.


Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) grants, which provides money for disaster-struck areas, would also have their funding renewed. 

Impact

People living in areas that have been affected by natural disasters, people living in areas that might be affected by natural disasters in the future, FEMA, local governments, local search and rescue teams, and recipients of FEMA grant funding.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1471

A CBO estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note:

As one might expect from a big bill that covers an important agency like FEMA, there’s some broad, sweeping stuff mixed in with a whole lot of super-specific minutiae. But one person’s minutiae is another’s world.


Take, for instance, the study ordered at the beginning of the bill. It’s going to involve a whole lot of wonky cost-analysis stuff. But that study is going to be used to determine how disaster relief is portioned out. And that’s going to mean a lot to people who live in Illinois, especially residents of Gifford (pop. 975) and Washington (pop. 15,000), who were denied FEMA aid after a 2014 tornado. 


Though the tornado destroyed about half the homes in Gifford and seriously damaged Washington’s water system, aid is offered for damage relative to a state's population — and Illinois is home to Chicago, boasting a population of almost 3 million. So this kind of thing is going to keep being a problem in Illinois — and, really, in states with that same gigantic urban/rural population divide — until FEMA aid is adjusted for demographics, like this bill orders. 


In Depth:

Sponsoring Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) introduced this bill at the same time as H.R. 1472, which calls for a technological update to the U.S.’s disaster warning systems. Both bills have the exact same set of co-sponsors.


This giant FEMA bill would also: 

  • Order a study on the differences between FEMA's aid eligibility standards for electrical utilities and the standards that utilities use themselves. 
  • Change the definition of "non-profit" for relief funding purposes, to include zoos, libraries, homeless shelters, and other “private nonprofit facilit[ies] that provide essential services of a governmental nature to the general public.”
  • Order the creation of consistent guidelines for applicants on FEMA disaster funding, and how they should be maintaining and transferring records and information during disaster response and recovery operations in the field.
  • Allow debts to the Federal government for relief assistance to be waived if paying them would be “against good conscience.”
  • Allow the President to supply aid to an area affected by a wildfire even if a state of emergency was not called

Media:

Sponsoring Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) Press Release

House Committee on Transportation& Infrastructure Report

Rantoul Press

Dispatch Argus (In Favor)



Summary by James Helmsworth
(Photo Credit: BananaNeil)

AKA

FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015

Official Title

To reauthorize the programs and activities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Feed me Seymour, feed me all night long. The more you feed it, the bigger it gets and the more it demands to be FED.
    Like (9)
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    We need to cut government spending and reduce its scope--of which this bill accomplishes neither.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    Every rational person can see that government, all levels of government, have a spending problem. Every rational person says something needs to be done to stop it. So why does nothing ever change? Take a stand, start now...right here.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Despite the claims of some people, FEMA does not protect anyone from a disaster since it steps in after the fact. FEMA does not respond in a timely manner; many communities had to wait years for FEMA aid. The money would be better spent on local response efforts.
    Like (3)
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    These are state, or local, issues.
    Like (3)
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    Exactly. Break this bill up into fragments and see what it's all about before just get signed
    Like (2)
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    This is a bipartisan bill that is well designed and addresses significant issues to all of the American people. This is another example of legislators doing their jobs correctly. This is what we need more of in Congress!!
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    Either these things are passed as a bunch of small bills or in a package like this. Americans have a problem understanding size, we think if we buy three things for $300 each, that's better than one thing for $700... It's not. Disaster funding is happening either way.
    Like (2)
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    Share
    FEMA is a redundant organization. DHS is redundant. All redundancy is waste. We had good agencies already in place.
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    Disaster relief is clearly a resonsibility of the federal government. Fund it. Stop playing politics with people's despair, please.
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    All of the components of this bill go to disaster relief, recovering, and research, I don't see any issue in bundling them up together in context.
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    This is yet another program that can be better managed at the state and local level.
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    It's too broad. And includes too many unnecessaries. Scale it down.
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    I think they are a disaster.
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    FEMA is necessary but most definitely needs to be reevaluated as far as spending and demographics. Everyone should qualify for aid of some sort when devastating to an area.
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    Important
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    Clean the bill.
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    I agree we need to break up this bill into smaller bills, as piggy-backing bills is just wrong, especially ehrn the bills are likely to cost a great deal to fund!
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    Needs to be broken up into smaller segments and voted on accordingly.
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    FEMA, while imperfect, is who people that have suffered catastrophic disasters turn to. Admittedly in the past it had some serious problems, but in the last ten years has managed to become a very responsible and necessary agency. Without them, what would you do after a Tornado, have a bake sale?
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