RESPONSE ACT OF 2016; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 170
(House of Representatives - November 29, 2016)

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[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.

                          ____________________