Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with H.R.4, with a wide bipartisan vote margin. Along with extending aviation-focused spending authority and research and development efforts, the legislation also makes updates to federal mitigation planning and disaster response efforts that affect buildings and communities.
The Disaster Recovery Reform Act, included as title VI of the FAA bill, makes important changes to existing federal disaster policy by investing in mitigation preparation. It amends the existing federal law, the Stafford Act, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that post-disaster assistance enables communities to rebuild using the latest codes and standards—and that pre-disaster mitigation incentivizes their use. These changes apply retroactively to any disaster declarations after August 1, 2017.
The Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness (PREPARE) Act of 2018 was also added as an amendment to the FAA bill in title IX. Introduced by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), the PREPARE Act coordinates government-wide outcomes for extreme weather preparedness and support for regional, state and local activity to assess vulnerabilities and promote cost-effective resilience strategies.
If enacted into law, these updates would represent a sea change in how the federal government addresses both disaster planning and support after a natural disaster, as well as pre-disaster resilience efforts. USGBC commends the House of Representatives for passage of these important provisions, and we urge the Senate to follow suit.
For more information on USGBC’s work on resilience, including disaster recovery, see our updated learning pathway The Road to Resilience.