Jan 28 2013
Landrieu-Cochran Provisions Included in Sandy Supplemental Bill Headed to White House
Contact: Chris Gallegos, 202-224-5054
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate today gave final approval to legislation that includes provisions coauthored by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to improve the ability of the federal government to help states and communities recover from major disasters.
The provisions, authored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Cochran are part of the disaster supplemental appropriations package (HR.152) approved by the Senate on Monday to address Hurricane Sandy recovery needs in the Northeast. It passed 62-36. With Senate passage, the legislation will now be sent to the White House for the President’s consideration.
“The goal of this legislation is to remove bureaucratic obstacles that make disaster recovery more expensive and time consuming for everyone. Disasters like Hurricane Katrina have taught us valuable lessons, and it is my expectation that these reforms will improve response and recovery activities for Hurricane Sandy and future disasters,” Cochran said. “I’m pleased the Congress has adopted these provisions, and I commend Senator Landrieu for her leadership and diligence in working toward their enactment.”
"The American people want government to be smarter and more efficient. That’s why these reforms to our nation’s disaster response and recovery laws that Sen. Cochran and I developed during the last seven years are so important,” Landrieu said. “The victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita learned the hard way that these laws are needlessly rigid and shortsighted. Having learned these lessons, the Stafford Act reforms that will soon become law will help ensure that the survivors of Hurricane Sandy and future disasters do not have to experience the same bureaucratic quagmire. I’m grateful for Sen. Cochran’s partnership in passing these smart reforms.”
Based on the Landrieu-Cochran “Disaster Recovery Act” (S.1630) from the last Congress, the provisions will reform the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. These legislative provisions build on recommendations received from various federal, state and local emergency organizations following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and other recent disasters.
The following are among the provisions included in HR.152 to make disaster recovery more fair, efficient and effective:
• Expands access to the independent arbitration panels put in place by Landrieu and Cochran for Hurricane Katrina. Current practice forces communities to settle disputes with the government by appealing FEMA decisions to FEMA itself.
• Reduces costs and removes bureaucratic hurdles by allowing local communities to voluntarily agree with FEMA on a binding reasonable cost to repair a facility shortly after a disaster rather than expending time and resources for years after the repair to amend the project and litigate a final reimbursable amount.
• Reduces costs and removes bureaucratic red tape by allowing communities to group similar structures together, and also by allowing a small portion of funding for projects to be provided up front so that rebuilding can begin as soon as possible.
• Encourages agencies to develop unified environmental and historic preservation review procedures for disasters rather than the current practice of requiring duplicative reviews from each agency for projects receiving assistance from multiple sources.
• Allows reimbursement for overtime wages paid to local government employees for debris removal rather than requiring that communities only enter into expensive contracts with outside entities.
• Allows reimbursement for the expedient repair of rental units when doing so is more cost effective and efficient than providing temporary housing like trailers.
• Provides incentives to local communities to remove debris in a timely and cost-effective manner.