November 29, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 170 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
RESPONSE ACT OF 2016; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 170
(House of Representatives - November 29, 2016)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Pages H6319-H6321] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] RESPONSE ACT OF 2016 Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (S. 546) to establish the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Advisory Council to provide recommendations on emergency responder training and resources relating to hazardous materials incidents involving railroads, and for other purposes, as amended. The Clerk read the title of the bill. The text of the bill is as follows: S. 546 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 ``RESPONSE Act of 2016''. SEC. 2. RAILROAD EMERGENCY SERVICES PREPAREDNESS, OPERATIONAL NEEDS, AND SAFETY EVALUATION SUBCOMMITTEE. Section 508 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 318) is amended-- (1) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (e); and (2) by inserting after subsection (c) the following: ``(d) RESPONSE Subcommittee.-- ``(1) Establishment.--Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of the RESPONSE Act of 2016, the Administrator shall establish, as a subcommittee of the National Advisory Council, the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation Subcommittee (referred to in this subsection as the `RESPONSE Subcommittee'). ``(2) Membership.--Notwithstanding subsection (c), the RESPONSE Subcommittee shall be composed of the following: ``(A) The Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or designee. ``(B) The Chief Safety Officer of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or designee. ``(C) The Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or designee. ``(D) The Director of the Office of Emergency Communications of the Department of Homeland Security, or designee. ``(E) The Director for the Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations of the National Transportation Safety Board, or designee. ``(F) The Chief Safety Officer and Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety of the Federal Railroad Administration, or designee. ``(G) The Assistant Administrator for Security Policy and Industry Engagement of the Transportation Security Administration, or designee. ``(H) The Assistant Commandant for Response Policy of the Coast Guard, or designee. ``(I) The Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response of the Environmental Protection Agency, or designee. ``(J) Such other qualified individuals as the co- chairpersons shall jointly appoint as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of the RESPONSE Act of 2016 from among the following: ``(i) Members of the National Advisory Council that have the requisite technical knowledge and expertise to address rail emergency response issues, including members from the following disciplines: ``(I) Emergency management and emergency response providers, including fire service, law enforcement, hazardous materials response, and emergency medical services. ``(II) State, local, and tribal government officials. ``(ii) Individuals who have the requisite technical knowledge and expertise to serve on the RESPONSE Subcommittee, including at least 1 representative from each of the following: ``(I) The rail industry. ``(II) Rail labor ``(III) Persons who offer oil for transportation by rail. ``(IV) The communications industry. ``(V) Emergency response providers, including individuals nominated by national organizations representing State and local governments and emergency responders. ``(VI) Emergency response training providers. ``(VII) Representatives from tribal organizations. ``(VIII) Technical experts. ``(IX) Vendors, developers, and manufacturers of systems, facilities, equipment, and capabilities for emergency responder services. ``(iii) Representatives of such other stakeholders and interested and affected parties as the co-chairpersons consider appropriate. ``(3) Co-chairpersons.--The members described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (2) shall serve as the co-chairpersons of the RESPONSE Subcommittee. ``(4) Initial meeting.--The initial meeting of the RESPONSE Subcommittee shall take place not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of the RESPONSE Act of 2016. [[Page H6320]] ``(5) Consultation with nonmembers.--The RESPONSE Subcommittee and the program offices for emergency responder training and resources shall consult with other relevant agencies and groups, including entities engaged in federally funded research and academic institutions engaged in relevant work and research, which are not represented on the RESPONSE Subcommittee to consider new and developing technologies and methods that may be beneficial to preparedness and response to rail hazardous materials incidents. ``(6) Recommendations.--The RESPONSE Subcommittee shall develop recommendations, as appropriate, for improving emergency responder training and resource allocation for hazardous materials incidents involving railroads after evaluating the following topics: ``(A) The quality and application of training for State and local emergency responders related to rail hazardous materials incidents, including training for emergency responders serving small communities near railroads, including the following: ``(i) Ease of access to relevant training for State and local emergency responders, including an analysis of-- ``(I) the number of individuals being trained; ``(II) the number of individuals who are applying; ``(III) whether current demand is being met; ``(IV) current challenges; and ``(V) projected needs. ``(ii) Modernization of training course content related to rail hazardous materials incidents, with a particular focus on fluctuations in oil shipments by rail, including regular and ongoing evaluation of course opportunities, adaptation to emerging trends, agency and private sector outreach, effectiveness and ease of access for State and local emergency responders. ``(iii) Identification of overlap in training content and identification of opportunities to develop complementary courses and materials among governmental and nongovernmental entities. ``(iv) Online training platforms, train-the-trainer, and mobile training options. ``(B) The availability and effectiveness of Federal, State, local, and nongovernmental funding levels related to training emergency responders for rail hazardous materials incidents, including emergency responders serving small communities near railroads, including-- ``(i) identifying overlap in resource allocations; ``(ii) identifying cost savings measures that can be implemented to increase training opportunities; ``(iii) leveraging government funding with nongovernmental funding to enhance training opportunities and fill existing training gaps; ``(iv) adaptation of priority settings for agency funding allocations in response to emerging trends; ``(v) historic levels of funding across Federal agencies for rail hazardous materials incident response and training, including funding provided by the private sector to public entities or in conjunction with Federal programs; and ``(vi) current funding resources across agencies. ``(C) The strategy for integrating commodity flow studies, mapping, and rail and hazardous materials databases for State and local emergency responders and increasing the rate of access to the individual responder in existing or emerging communications technology. ``(7) Report.-- ``(A) In general.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of the RESPONSE Act of 2016, the RESPONSE Subcommittee shall submit a report to the National Advisory Council that-- ``(i) includes the recommendations developed under paragraph (6); ``(ii) specifies the timeframes for implementing any such recommendations that do not require congressional action; and ``(iii) identifies any such recommendations that do require congressional action. ``(B) Review.--Not later than 30 days after receiving the report under subparagraph (A), the National Advisory Council shall begin a review of the report. The National Advisory Council may ask for additional clarification, changes, or other information from the RESPONSE Subcommittee to assist in the approval of the recommendations. ``(C) Recommendation.--Once the National Advisory Council approves the recommendations of the RESPONSE Subcommittee, the National Advisory Council shall submit the report to-- ``(i) the co-chairpersons of the RESPONSE Subcommittee; ``(ii) the head of each other agency represented on the RESPONSE Subcommittee; ``(iii) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate; ``(iv) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; ``(v) the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives; and ``(vi) the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives. ``(8) Interim activity.-- ``(A) Updates and oversight.--After the submission of the report by the National Advisory Council under paragraph (7), the Administrator shall-- ``(i) provide annual updates to the congressional committees referred to in paragraph (7)(C) regarding the status of the implementation of the recommendations developed under paragraph (6); and ``(ii) coordinate the implementation of the recommendations described in paragraph (6)(G)(i), as appropriate. ``(B) Sunset.--The requirements of subparagraph (A) shall terminate on the date that is 2 years after the date of the submission of the report required under paragraph (7)(A). ``(9) Termination.--The RESPONSE Subcommittee shall terminate not later than 90 days after the submission of the report required under paragraph (7)(C).''. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. Denham) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Capuano) each will control 20 minutes. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California. General Leave Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on S. 546, as amended. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California? There was no objection. Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Mr. Speaker, rail safety is critical to the transport of goods and services throughout our country. As chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, I have consistently worked to improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail, especially crude by rail. In the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, and later in the FAST Act, Congress required response plans and adopted strong national standards for transporting hazardous materials by rail. Additionally, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has held several hearings at both the full committee and subcommittee level to examine how Congress can improve upon what is already a very safe rail network. I personally have facilitated training for dozens of first responders in my district to ensure they are prepared to respond in the unlikely event of an accident involving hazardous materials transported by rail. Recently, I traveled with my good friends, Ranking Member Capuano and Congressman Farenthold, to Colorado and the Transportation Technology Center to see how the first responder community trains for tank car accidents and the investments our Nation's freight railroad are making to build a safer network. The bill before us today is an extension of these efforts to build and advance rail safety across our Nation. The RESPONSE Act tasks both government and nongovernmental experts to develop recommendations improving emergency responder training for hazardous materials incidents involving rail. It requires the evaluation of a number of issues related to rail hazmat incidents, including the quality and application of training for local emergency first responders. Additionally, it looks at overlap in training and ways to modernize training for emergency responders, especially those in small communities near railroads. This bill will further improve rail safety and enhance responses to rail hazmat incidents. I saw how important this hands-on training can be in August at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo. I believe that this bill will build upon the safety of our rail network in communities like mine. Again, I want to thank the chairman, Mr. Kind, and Senator Heitkamp for working on this bill. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time. Mr. CAPUANO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill as well. I want to thank Ranking Member Denham, Chairman Shuster, and Ranking Member DeFazio for taking the lead on this bill. Very simply, this is the simplest bill in the world, to be perfectly honest. It gets all the stakeholders together to simply take a look at the current responses we have when there is a disaster relative to rail accidents. It gets them all in one room to take a look at best practices to figure out what they can do better and to see if resources are allocated well. It is not just Washington insiders. It includes people from the rail industry, people from the labor community, and people from the public safety community at local and State levels. It gets everybody at the table to do things that Congress is not equipped to do appropriately. We are not the safety experts; they are. There is a time limit. This is not one of those endless committees that is [[Page H6321]] going to sit there forever. For 1 year, they get together, work it out amongst themselves, and come back with recommendations to us so that we can do our job well, which is to support the people actually suppressing these fires and maintaining the safety of our communities. Again, I rise in support of this bill. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time. Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, this is a great bill. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important piece of legislation. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Denham) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, S. 546, as amended. The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed. A motion to reconsider was laid on the table. ____________________