April 27, 2018—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by a vote of 393 to 13. With the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) included in the FAA measure as Title VI, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4) also reforms federal disaster policy by shifting more investment into pre-disaster mitigation and ensuring that post-disaster assistance enables communities to build back to the latest model building codes.

The PREPARE Act (H.R. 4177) also passed the House today as an amendment to H.R. 4. Introduced by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), the Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness Act of 2018 responds to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) concern that threats posed by extreme weather are among the most pressing fiscal exposures for the federal government. The PREPARE Act will coordinate government-wide goals and priorities for extreme weather preparedness and support regional, state, and local action to assess vulnerabilities and cost effective resilience strategies.

“The bill passed today is a major step forward in creating resilient and sustainable infrastructure and communities,” said EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. “More investment in pre-disaster mitigation—taking action before disasters hit to ensure that buildings and other infrastructure can better withstand the effects of wind, flooding, droughts, wildfires and other natural hazards—will save lives and money.” Indeed, a recent study by the National Institute of Building Sciences shows that $1 invested in mitigation saves $6 in recovery costs. EESI applauds policymakers for recognizing the value of investing in mitigation and smart rebuilding as a common-sense alternative to spending billions for post-disaster rebuilding only to have it destroyed by the next storm.

The Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) amends provisions of the Stafford Act (42 U.S. Code, Chapter 68), the federal statutory authority for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DRRA provides pre-disaster mitigation grants and authority for FEMA to assist communities in rebuilding to more robust design and construction standards. This is consistent with FEMA’s new strategic plan and its draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy.

Focus now turns to the Senate, although plans there are unclear at this time. EESI will continue to promote disaster preparedness and resilience in concert with environmental sustainability, with additional briefings in our series on Building Secure and Resilient Infrastructure.