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Committee Approves Bills to Improve Federal Disaster Response, Repeal MPO Rule

Washington, DC, March 29, 2017 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today approved nine bills, including three bills to improve federal disaster response programs, and a repeal of a rule that places unnecessary burdens on Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

“Today the Committee passed bipartisan, good government bills that ensure our government is more responsive to the needs of Americans trying to rebuild their communities and their lives after disasters, that reduce burdens on state and local governments, and that improve federal agency transparency,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).

“All of the bills approved by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today share a common theme—they are bipartisan, common-sense bills many of which will protect local communities by cleaning up well-meaning but ultimately harmful administration policies,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).  “I am happy to support the bills that make improvements to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers disaster assistance, particularly the bill to give certainty to local communities that they won’t have to return funds to FEMA years after a disaster because of a retroactive change in policy.  I applaud the members of this committee for working together and look forward to passing these bills out of the House.”

The measures approved in today’s mark-up included:

  • H.R. 1665, a bill to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to appropriately weigh and consider severe local impact when evaluating whether to recommend a major disaster declaration.   This bill ensures a more level playing field for smaller communities when impacted by severe disasters.  The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL).
  • H.R. 1678, a bill to implement a statute of limitations on FEMA’s ability to recover grant assistance from recipients after a disaster, in cases where there is no evidence of fraud, waste or abuse.  The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL).
  • H.R. 1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017.  This bill modernizes FEMA’s management of grant programs to improve applicant accessibility and transparency.  The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA).
  • H.R. 1346, a bill that repeals the rule entitled “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform.”  The rule exceeds what is required in law, is contrary to congressional intent, and increases burdens on MPOs and states.  By repealing this rule, the bill maintains MPO and state flexibility in planning and making transportation investments.  H.R. 1346 was introduced by U.S. Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL).
  • H.R. 1726, the Coast Guard Improvement and Reform Act of 2017.  This bill reorganizes title 14 of the United States Code, the section of the Code pertaining to the operation and administration of the U.S. Coast Guard.  It also establishes standard administrative procedures for Coast Guard advisory committees.  The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).
  • H.R. 1093, a bill that requires congressional notification of the initiation and results of passenger and commuter rail comprehensive safety assessments by the Federal Railroad Administration.   The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ).
  • H. Con. Res. 35, authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and the National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Exhibition.  The resolution was introduced by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA).
  • H. Con. Res. 36, authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby.  The resolution was introduced by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
  • H.R. 455, designating the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” in Jackson, Mississippi.  The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

    More information on today’s mark-up can be found here.