On April 13, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released H.Rept. 111-459 Part 1, the FEMA Independence Act of 2009 [to accompany H.R. 1174]. IMO this legislation will never reach the Senate or the President and is fundamentally flawed for both technical and substantive reasons.
The primary flaw is the Committee that prepared this legislation still regards the Stafford Act and FEMA as part of the public works culture of the federal system. This is an outdated paradigm and the least likely vehicle for the agile, adapable, flexible FEMA that the Committee hopes to establish.
Oddly the review of the past in the Committee Print fails to document that the so-called "glory days" of FEMA in the Clinton Adminstration were better than some past times in FEMA, but not much. FEMA as structured during the Clinton Administration focused largely on natural disasters and funding and information related to those events. True, mitigation got some precedence but not much in the way of actual funding or authority until the very end of the Clinton Administration is the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.
What is my frame of reference? I have always viewed FEMA's primary mission is the prevention of disasters through mitigation and reduction of losses of life and property. In many ways FEMA and the STAFFORD ACT have been administered to increase so-called "moral hazards" not reduce them and to act as facilitators of negligent action by STATES and LOCAL governments in both land use and management of natural resources as they caved to the greed of land development companies that had no long term interest in resilience.
That stated I will return to this subject over time. What is clear is that some FEMA programs,functions and activities are directly undermined by their presence in DHS. This should be the first object of any so-called "reform" legislation.
Personally, I would like to see this bill collaterally referred to a number of other committees for input.