The United States faces a "resilience gap" with the potential to disrupt the American economy with long-term consequences, an insurance firm official, who also urged Congress to prioritize investments in resilience over disaster response, told a Senate panel Feb. 12. "Should resilience be prioritized over other disaster response costs? Absolutely," said Lindene Patton, chief climate product officer for Zurich Financial Services.
It was nearly an average year for presidentially declared major disasters in 2013, shows data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As a result of omnibus appropriations legislation funding federal agencies through September, Customs and Border Protection will have a record level of agents and officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will have the highest detention capacity in history. The House approved the $1.02 trillion funding measure by a vote of 359-67; the bill is expected to pass the Senate.
New authorities granted the Federal Emergency Management Agency by the Sandy recovery funding law have improved post-disaster debris removal, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told a Nov. 6 Senate panel.
The Senate committee marked up its appropriations bill July 18, approving $39.1 billion for discretionary spending against the House's $38.99 billion. Neither amount includes disaster relief category spending (the same in both versions, at $5.62 billion), or Coast Guard overseas contingency spending.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to implement training for its reservist workforce that doesn't occur at the time of deployment, the Government Accountability Office says. Lack of advance training has been a long-standing complaint among reservists, but "the new program is not yet fully implemented, pending funding availability," the report says. Sequestration cut the fund by approximately $1 billion.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency likely will be smaller in the coming fiscal year, with the Obama administration's fiscal 2014 proposal transmitted to Congress April 10 proposing $9.59 billion in appropriations--an amount that's 12.5 percent less than current year levels when taking into account White House-projected levels of inflation.
Recovery from Hurricane Sandy damage is pivoting to permanent measures and away from emergency work such as debris cleanup and temporary repairs, said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate before a March 13 House panel.
An Office of Management and Budget report (.pdf) on how across-the-board cuts will impact individual agencies shows that FEMA will have about 5 percent of its budget subtracted from it. In raw dollars, the greatest amount comes from disaster relief, which will lose $928 million, with state and local programs set to lose $117 million, the second greatest amount.
The Coast Guard would curtail air and surface operations by nearly 25 percent and a significant portion of frontline Homeland Security Department personnel would be furloughed for up to 14 days should sequestration occur on March 1, says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Across-the-board cuts could also potentially result in reductions in force, Napolitano said, using the government term for layoffs.