- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate Passed on a voice vote
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- senate Committees
- The house Passed on a voice vote
Committee on Transportation and InfrastructureEconomic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency ManagementIntroducedJanuary 17th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 639?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 639
In-Depth: Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) introduced this bill to clarify that federal employees, in addition to state and local government employees, can be part of the task forces assembled as part of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System.
In a 2006 report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) suggested that US&R task forces may be duplicative with other federal disaster response infrastructure:
“Congress may wish to debate how US&R task forces fit into the broader scope of federal disaster response efforts. A report issued by the General Accounting Office prior to the terrorist attacks of 2001 identified 24 types of teams, administered by eight federal agencies, capable of responding to terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. The extent to which US&R task forces duplicate the capabilities and authorities of other federal response teams might be considered.”
This bill passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by a a voice vote with the support of two bipartisan cosponsors (one Democrat and one Republican).
Of Note: The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, signed into law November 23, 1988, provides the statutory authority for most federal disaster response activities, especially as they pertain to FEMA and FEMA programs.
The National Urban Search and Rescue Response System contains around 5,700 personnel — mostly state and local government employees — serving on 28 task forces across the U.S. coordinated by FEMA. There are currently 60 federal employees serving on task forces.
The Congressional Research Service observes that “[t]he federal role in urban search and rescue efforts has developed slowly over the past three decades,” beginning with congressional enactment of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, which stimulated research and planning for earthquake response.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / AlenaPaulus)