Text: H.R.4158 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (11/13/2007)


110th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 4158


To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify and codify the authority of the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System for Federal response to all hazards.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 13, 2007

Mr. Cohen (for himself, Ms. Norton, and Mr. Graves) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure


A BILL

To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify and codify the authority of the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System for Federal response to all hazards.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act of 2007”.

SEC. 2. Purpose.

The purpose of this Act is to clarify and codify the authority of the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System for Federal response to all hazards.

SEC. 3. National Urban Search and Rescue Response System.

(a) In general.—Title III of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5141 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“SEC. 327. National Urban Search and Rescue Response System.

“(a) Definitions.—In this section, the following definitions apply:

“(1) ADMINISTRATOR.—The term ‘Administrator’ means the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“(2) AGENCY.—The term ‘Agency’ means the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“(3) HAZARD.—The term ‘hazard’ has the meaning given that term by section 602.

“(4) PARTICIPATING AGENCY.—The term ‘participating agency’ means a State or local government, nonprofit organization, or private organization that has executed an agreement with a sponsoring agency to participate in the System.

“(5) SPONSORING AGENCY.—The term ‘sponsoring agency’ means a State or local government that is the sponsor of a task force designated by the Administrator to participate in the System.

“(6) SYSTEM.—The term ‘System’ means the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System to be administered under this section.

“(7) SYSTEM MEMBER.—The term ‘System member’ means an individual who is not a regular full-time employee of the Federal Government, who serves on a task force or on a System management or other technical team.

“(8) TASK FORCE.—The term ‘task force’ means an urban search and rescue team designated by the Administrator to participate in the System.

“(b) General authority.—Subject to the requirements of this section, the Administrator shall continue to administer the emergency response system known as the ‘National Urban Search and Rescue Response System’.

“(c) Functions.—In administering the System, the Administrator shall provide for a national network of standardized search and rescue resources to assist States and local governments in responding to hazards.

“(d) Task forces.—

“(1) DESIGNATION.—The Administrator shall designate task forces to participate in the System. The Administrator shall determine the criteria for such participation.

“(2) SPONSORING AGENCIES.—Each task force shall have a sponsoring agency. The Administrator shall enter into an agreement with the sponsoring agency of each task force with respect to the participation of the task force in the System.

“(3) COMPOSITION.—

“(A) PARTICIPATING AGENCIES.—A task force may include, at the discretion of the sponsoring agency of the task force, one or more participating agencies. The sponsoring agency of a task force shall enter into an agreement with each participating agency of the task force with respect to the participation of the participating agency on the task force.

“(B) OTHER INDIVIDUALS.—A task force may also include, at the discretion of the sponsoring agency of the task force, other individuals not otherwise associated with the sponsoring agency or a participating agency of the task force. The sponsoring agency of a task force may enter into a separate agreement with each such individual with respect to the participation of the individual on the task force.

“(e) Management and technical teams.—The Administrator shall maintain such management teams and other technical teams as the Administrator determines are necessary to administer the System.

“(f) Appointment of system members into Federal service.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator may appoint a System member into Federal service for a period of service to provide for the participation of the System member in exercises, preincident staging, major disaster and emergency response activities, and training events sponsored or sanctioned by the Administrator.

“(2) NONAPPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN CIVIL SERVICE LAWS.—The Administrator may make appointments under paragraph (1) without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service.

“(3) RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER AUTHORITIES.—The authority of the Administrator to make appointments under this subsection shall not affect any other authority of the Administrator under this Act.

“(4) LIMITATION.—A System member who is appointed into Federal service under paragraph (1) shall not be deemed an employee of the United States for purposes other than those specifically set forth in this section.

“(g) Compensation.—

“(1) PAY OF SYSTEM MEMBERS.—Subject to such terms and conditions as the Administrator may impose by regulation, the Administrator shall make payments to the sponsoring agency of a task force—

“(A) to reimburse each employer of a System member on the task force for compensation paid by the employer to the System member for any period during which the System member is appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1); and

“(B) as appropriate, in lieu of providing reimbursement to an employer of a System member on the task force under subparagraph (A), to make payments directly to the System member for any period during which the System member is appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1).

“(2) REIMBURSEMENT FOR EMPLOYEES FILLING POSITIONS OF SYSTEM MEMBERS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Subject to such terms and conditions as the Administrator may impose by regulation, the Administrator shall make payments to the sponsoring agency of a task force to reimburse each employer of a System member on the task force for compensation paid by the employer to an employee filling a position normally filled by the System member for any period during which the System member is appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1).

“(B) LIMITATION.—Costs incurred by an employer shall be eligible for reimbursement under subparagraph (A) only to the extent that the costs are in excess of the costs that would have been incurred by the employer had the System member not been appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1).

“(3) METHOD OF PAYMENT.—A System member shall not be entitled to pay directly from the Agency for a period during which the System member is appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1).

“(h) Personal injury, illness, disability, or death.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—A System member who is appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1) and who suffers personal injury, illness, disability, or death as a result of a personal injury sustained while acting in the scope of such appointment shall, for the purposes of subchapter I of chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code, be treated as though the member were an employee (as defined by section 8101 of that title) who had sustained the injury in the performance of duty.

“(2) ELECTION OF BENEFITS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—If a System member (or, in the case of the death of the System member, the System member’s dependent) is entitled—

“(i) under paragraph (1) to receive benefits under subchapter I of chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code, by reason of personal injury, illness, disability, or death, and

“(ii) to receive benefits from a State or local government by reason of the same personal injury, illness, disability, or death,

the System member or dependent shall elect to receive either the benefits referred to in clause (i) or (ii).

“(B) DEADLINE.—A System member or dependent shall make an election of benefits under subparagraph (A) not later than one year after the date of the personal injury, illness, disability, or death that is the reason for the benefits or until such later date as the Secretary of Labor may allow for reasonable cause shown.

“(C) EFFECT OF ELECTION.—An election of benefits made under this paragraph is irrevocable unless otherwise provided by law.

“(3) REIMBURSEMENT FOR STATE OR LOCAL BENEFITS.—Subject to such terms and conditions as the Administrator may impose by regulation, in the event that a System member or dependent elects benefits from a State or local government under paragraph (2)(A), the Administrator shall reimburse the State or local government for the value of those benefits.

“(i) Liability.—A System member appointed into Federal service under subsection (f)(1), while acting within the scope of the appointment, is deemed an employee of the United States under section 1346(b) of title 28, United States Code, and chapter 171 of that title, relating to tort claims procedure.

“(j) Employment and reemployment rights.—With respect to a System member who is not a regular full-time employee of a sponsoring agency or participating agency, the following terms and conditions apply:

“(1) Service as a System member shall be deemed ‘service in the uniformed services’ for purposes of chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code, relating to employment and reemployment rights of individuals who have performed service in the uniformed services (regardless of whether the individual receives compensation for such participation). All rights and obligations of such persons and procedures for assistance, enforcement, and investigation shall be as provided for in such chapter.

“(2) Preclusion of giving notice of service by necessity of appointment under this section shall be deemed preclusion by ‘military necessity’ for purposes of section 4312(b) of title 38, United States Code, pertaining to giving notice of absence from a position of employment. A determination of such necessity shall be made by the Administrator and shall not be subject to judicial review.

“(k) Licenses and permits.—If a System member holds a valid license, certificate, or other permit issued by any State or other governmental jurisdiction evidencing the member’s qualifications in any professional, mechanical, or other skill or type of assistance required by the System, the System member shall be deemed to be performing a Federal activity when rendering aid involving such skill or assistance during a period of appointment into Federal service under subsection (f)(1).

“(l) Advisory committee.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall establish and maintain an advisory committee to provide expert recommendations to the Administrator in order to assist the Administrator in administering the System.

“(2) COMPOSITION.—The advisory committee shall be composed of members from geographically diverse areas, and shall include—

“(A) the chief officer or senior executive from at least 3 sponsoring agencies;

“(B) the senior emergency manager from at least 2 States that include sponsoring agencies; and

“(C) at least one representative recommended by the leaders of the task forces.

“(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF TERMINATION REQUIREMENT.—Section 14(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the advisory committee under this subsection.

“(m) Preparedness cooperative agreements.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to the availability of appropriations for such purpose, the Administrator shall enter into an annual preparedness cooperative agreement with each sponsoring agency. Amounts made available to a sponsoring agency under such a preparedness cooperative agreement shall be for the following purposes:

“(A) Training and exercises with other Federal, State, and local government response entities.

“(B) Acquisition and maintenance of equipment, including interoperable communications and personal protective equipment.

“(C) Medical monitoring required for responder safety and health in anticipation of and following a major disaster, emergency, or other hazard, as determined by the Administrator.

“(2) AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS.—Notwithstanding section 1552(b) of title 31, United States Code, amounts made available for cooperative agreements under this subsection that are not expended shall be deposited in an Agency account and shall remain available for such agreements without fiscal year limitation.

“(n) Response cooperative agreements.—The Administrator shall enter into a response cooperative agreement with each sponsoring agency, as appropriate, under which the Administrator agrees to reimburse the sponsoring agency for costs incurred by the sponsoring agency in responding to a major disaster, emergency, or other hazard as determined by the Administrator.

“(o) Obligations.—The Administrator may incur all necessary obligations consistent with this section in order to ensure the effectiveness of the System.

“(p) Authorization of appropriations.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $52,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011. Such sums shall be in addition to amounts made available from the Disaster Relief Fund for response cooperative agreements entered into under subsection (n).

“(2) ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES.—The Administrator may use not to exceed 6 percent of the funds appropriated for a fiscal year pursuant to paragraph (1) for salaries, expenses, and other administrative costs incurred by the Administrator in carrying out this section.”.

(b) Conforming amendments.—

(1) APPLICABILITY OF TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE.—Section 8101(1) of title 5, United States Code, is amended—

(A) in subparagraph (D) by striking “and” at the end;

(B) in subparagraph (E) by inserting “and” after the semicolon; and

(C) by adding at the end the following:

“(F) an individual who is a System member of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System during a period of appointment into Federal service pursuant to section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.”.

(2) INCLUSION AS PART OF UNIFORMED SERVICES FOR PURPOSES OF USERRA.—Section 4303 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(A) in paragraph (13) by inserting “a period for which a System member of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System is absent from a position of employment due to an appointment into Federal service under section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act,” before “, and a period”; and

(B) in paragraph (16) by inserting after “Public Health Service,” the following: “, System members of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System during a period of appointment into Federal service under section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act,”.