Marco Rubio’s FEMA Reform Heads to the Senate Floor

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., proposal reforming the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gained traction on Capitol Hill.

Pairing up, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson R-Wisc., and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., back at the start of April, Rubio introduced 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.”

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 which passed it without opposition this week.

“I thank my colleagues for passing this important, bipartisan bill out of committee, and I look forward to its consideration before the full Senate,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “The FACE Act will ensure that future federal response to natural disasters is more effective and efficient, and I urge my colleagues to support this critical effort.”

Having cleared the committee, Rubio’s bill now heads to the Senate floor. So far, there is no House counterpart.


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