Friday, August 27, 2010

Where is Congress?

Many events occurring while the Congress is recessed until Monday the 13th of September. Since Congress working sessions and floor action are largely confined to three days a week, effectively the 14th is when action in the 111th Congress will continue. An OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS ACT is highly likely and for the first time ever since DHS created probably DHS will be rolled into it. This could be a disaster since cutting the budget in an arbitrary manner seems foreordained for the Fiscal Year [FY] beginning October 1st. Such an enormous bill will, however, feed the many lobbyists that thrive on extended late night sessions and Congressional disarray and probably many many earmarks also. So like the Oklahoma Land Rush the starting gun will go off on the 14th. Very few actual "legislative days" left before the Congress adjourns, not recesses, for the election. Discussion of a "lame duck" session already underway where the PRESIDENT would recall Congress for that session.

So here goes my laundry list for the remainder of the 111th and the Special Session and the new Congress.

First the rest of the regular session of the 111th Congress and remember as always this blog focuses on Emergency Management and HOMELAND Security.
These are my priorities:
1. No earmarks for DHS and FEMA.
2. Mandate mitigation outlays as a percentage of disaster outlays. No discretion.
3. Mandate that programs, functions, and activities in FEMA DHS without authorization be specifically listed in a report to be listed before the election. Thus, all programs, functions and activities with appropriations but without authorization would be made publically available for the first time.
4. Add 10% each year to the Coast Guard's funding and staffing for the next five years.
5. Mandate that the National Flood Insurance Program cannot provide any coverage for events which are not disclosed on its maps, including levee and dam failures.
6. Mandate NO Flood Insurance availablility where USACOE projects have been constructed. An either/or choice for each STATE and Community.
7. Mandate that NO community without Zoning or building code authority over its flood plains as designated by teh NFIP shall be provided flood insurance.
8. Mandate that any structure found post-flood to violate STATE or LOCAL building codes or violate zoning laws related to flooding which has coverage, will have that coverage VOIDED AB INITIO.
9. Mandate that the Robert T. Stafford Act be studied for enactment into positive law and reorganized to provide the following: A technical assistance title, a financial assistance title, a listing of all large-scale catastrophic events for which no disaster or emergency declaration may be provided because another statutory scheme for reimbursement of the public and STATE and LOCAL governments provides such reimbursement. And consolidation of all waste, fraud, and abuse provisions into a single title including the adoption of a provision similar to that of 18 USC Section 1001 for all DHS and FEMA programs, functions and activities.
10. That all programs, functions, and activities in DHS and FEMA be analyzed in a report to be submitted to the 112th Congress discussing how those programs, functions, activities contribute to all-hazards preparedness, prevention, protection, response, recovery and mitigation or discuss why they do not contribute and should be assigned elsewhere in the Executive Branch.

Second: The Lame Duck session. There will be one and will explain later.
1. Elimination of the so-called Emergency Program of the NFIP by repeal of 42 USC Section 4106.
2. Mandate no flood insurance except in designated V zones, AH zones, and A zones on NFIP maps.
3. Mandate no insurance in any community that only has USGS 50' conture interval maps.
4. Mandate no NFIP coverage of installed or uninstalled carpet.
5. Mandate that the definitions in Title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Act be utilized throughout that statute and where there are conflicts other definitions will be repealed.
6. A study be provided on whether the NFIP should be confined to coastal counties as designated by the CZMA [Coastal Zone Management Act] only and should if the answer is yes should the mapping and scientific aspects of the NFIP be transferred to NOAA and the insurance functions to the Department of the Treasury. This study to be completed to be submitted with the submission of the FY 2012 budget and State of the Union address next year.
7. Whereever the word "mitigation" appears in the US code the word "resilience" should be substituted but defined so as to also include as part of any definition the term "mitigation".
8. A Congressional finding should be added to the NFIP that its goals and purposes include promoting "resiliency, limit to the extent possible functionally dependent uses in the nation's floodplains, and in general should promote protection of the environment, including the recognition of the statutory purposes supoprting the NFIP listed at 44 CFR Sections Part 59 and following including the addition of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
9. The Robert T. Stafford Act be amended to mandate that only non-profit corporations and entities that are federally tax exempt are eligible for public assistance in addition to other existing statutory requirements.
10. That a study be conducted of the systems and processes both FEMA and DHS use or will utilize for crisis management when there is or is not a Stafford Act declaration. This study to be submitted with the FY 2012 budget to Congress and with the State of the Union address.

Third: For the 112th Congress!

I. Establish several new joint committees including one for CRISIS MANAGMENT, HOMELAND SECURITY and EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS and MANAGEMENT;
II. All statutes authorizing programs, functions and activities in DHS shall be authorized only with the consent of the joint committee established above, or absent that establishment the HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE in the HOUSE and the HOMELAND SECURITY and Governmental Committee in the Senate.
III. The authorizing committee for the Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974,as amended shall be either the JOINT Committee named above or in absence of its establishment the respective HOMELAND SECURITY Committees of the House and Senate.
IV. A report shall be prepared for the 112th Congress to be submitted no later than the second session of that Congress examining how exactly the DHS and FEMA collaborate and cooperate with the WHITE HOUSE, foreign countries, other Executive Branch components, including negative reports if necessary, and foreign countries and allies.
V. A report on how the divisions of authority between the STATE department and DHS on immigration and visas is operating, including progress and problems. And the same for the ajudication system for immigration appeals in DOJ and DHS.
VI. A report on the implications for federalism and homeland security and emergency preparedness and management of the curtailment and fiscal problems of STATE and LOCAL government over the next decade. This report to be submitted by the second session of the 112th Congress.
VII. A coherent explanation of the history and current treatment of all-hazards emergency management and homeland security and its implications for technical response activities including WMD programs, funtions, and activities. To be submitted to the 112th Congress at the beginning of its second session.
VIII. A coherent history of cyber security efforts in the DHS since its inception and progress since DHS inception to be submitted to the second session of the 112th Congress.
IX. A finding to be added to the Robert T. Stafford Act to indicate that it is NOT an all-hazards statute nor an architecture for crisis management in the Executive Branch.
X. A study of the implementation of EO 12656 and implications of its repeal or replacement before it is in fact repealed or superseded shall be furnished to Congress and the appropriate committees.

Well there you have it and let's come back in February 2012 and see what happened.