Marco Rubio Unveils FEMA Reform Bill

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., championed a proposal to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Joining U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Rubio threw his support behind the “Federal Advance Contracts Enhancement (FACE) Act”  which “would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure more effective use and management of its advance contracts for goods and services” and “requires federal preparedness actions to be coordinated with states and localities to prevent gaps in recovery efforts from occurring.”

Rubio weighed in on why he had introduced the proposal.

“As our local communities continue to rebuild and recover from devastating natural disasters, Congress has an important role to implement lessons learned so future federal response is more effective and efficient,” Rubio said. “The FACE Act accomplishes these goals by incorporating detailed recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office to improve FEMA’s management and use of advance contracts to prevent future gaps in recovery efforts from occurring.”

“This bill not only makes it easier for FEMA to serve areas affected by natural disasters, it’s also another step toward making government more efficient, effective, and accountable to the taxpayer,” Johnson said. “I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this commonsense legislation.”

“As communities across the country struggle to recover from flooding, wildfires and other natural disasters, it’s clear that our federal, state and local governments must be prepared to quickly respond to these emergencies,” Peters said. “As ranking member of the committee that oversees FEMA, I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that will help streamline disaster relief like emergency supply distribution and cleanup efforts to ensure they are more efficient and save money for taxpayers. These commonsense reforms will enable the federal government to be both better prepared and to quickly mobilize resources to affected areas, ensuring that our communities have the opportunity to fully rebuild and recover in the aftermath of a disaster.”

The bill would require FEMA to use recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on advance contracts to “ensure that federal preparedness actions are coordinated to prevent gaps in recovery efforts from occurring.” If the proposal is passed, FEMA would have to offer Congress updates on the changes.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, Congress required FEMA to establish advance contracts for goods and services to enable the federal government to quickly mobilize resources to affected areas in the aftermath of a disaster. The 2017 disaster season was historically destructive, and FEMA was forced to rely heavily on advance contracts in its response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires. GAO was asked to review the federal government’s response to the 2017 hurricanes and California wildfires and assess a number of issues,” Rubio’s office noted. “In its report, GAO found a number of issues with FEMA’s handling of advance contracts and made nine recommendations. FEMA concurred with all nine of GAO’s recommendations.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House.

 

Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

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