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105th Congress Rept. 105-554
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session Part 1
NATIONAL DROUGHT POLICY ACT OF 1998
May 22, 1998.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Shuster, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 3035]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom
was referred the bill (H.R. 3035) to establish an advisory
commission to provide advice and recommendations on the
creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed
to prepare for and respond to serious drought emergencies,
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``National Drought Policy Act of 1998''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) the United States often suffers serious economic and
environmental losses from severe regional droughts and there is
no coordinated Federal strategy to respond to such emergencies;
(2) at the Federal level, even though historically there have
been frequent, significant droughts of national consequences,
drought is addressed mainly through special legislation and ad
hoc action rather than through a systematic and permanent
process as occurs with other natural disasters;
(3) there is an increasing need, particularly at the Federal
level, to emphasize preparedness, mitigation, and risk
management (rather than simply crisis management) when
addressing drought and other natural disasters or emergencies;
(4) several Federal agencies have a role in drought from
predicting, forecasting, and monitoring of drought conditions
to the provision of planning, technical, and financial
(5) there is no single Federal agency in a lead or
coordinating role with regard to drought;
(6) State, local, and tribal governments have had to deal
individually and separately with each Federal agency involved
in drought assistance; and
(7) the President should appoint an advisory commission to
provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an
integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for,
mitigate the impacts of, respond to, and recover from serious
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.
(a) Establishment.--There is established a commission to be known as
the National Drought Policy Commission (hereinafter in this Act
referred to as the ``Commission'').
(1) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of 16
members. The members of the Commission shall include--
(A) the Secretary of Agriculture, or the designee of
the Secretary, who shall chair the Commission;
(B) the Secretary of the Interior, or the designee of
(C) the Secretary of the Army, or the designee of the
(D) the Secretary of Commerce, or the designee of the
(E) the Director of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, or the designee of the Director;
(F) the Administrator of the Small Business
Administration, or the designee of the Administrator;
(G) two persons nominated by the National Governors'
Association and appointed by the President, of whom--
(i) one shall be the governor of a State east
of the Mississippi River; and
(ii) one shall be a governor of a State west
of the Mississippi River;
(H) a person nominated by the National Association of
Counties and appointed by the President;
(I) a person nominated by the United States
Conference of Mayors and appointed by the President;
(J) six persons, appointed by the Secretary of
Agriculture in coordination with the Secretary of the
Interior and the Secretary of the Army, who shall be
representative of groups acutely affected by drought
emergencies, such as the agricultural production
community, the credit community, rural and urban water
associations, Native Americans, and fishing and
(2) Date.--The appointments of the members of the Commission
shall be made no later than 60 days after the date of the
enactment of this Act.
(c) Period of Appointment; Vacancies.--Members shall be appointed for
the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not
affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the
(d) Initial Meeting.--No later than 30 days after the date on which
all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall
hold its first meeting.
(e) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the chair.
(f) Quorum.--A majority of the members of the Commission shall
constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.
(g) Vice Chair.--The Commission shall select a vice chair from among
the members who are not Federal officers or employees.
SEC. 4. DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION.
(a) Study and Report.--The Commission shall conduct a thorough study
and submit a report on national drought policy in accordance with this
(b) Content of Study and Report.--In conducting the study and report,
the Commission shall--
(1) determine, in consultation with the National Drought
Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and other appropriate
entities, what needs exist on the Federal, State, local, and
tribal levels to prepare for and respond to drought
(2) review all existing Federal laws and programs relating to
(3) review State, local, and tribal laws and programs
relating to drought that the Commission finds pertinent;
(4) determine what differences exist between the needs of
those affected by drought and the Federal laws and programs
designed to mitigate the impacts of and respond to drought;
(5) collaborate with the Western Drought Coordination Council
and other appropriate entities in order to consider regional
drought initiatives and the application of such initiatives at
the national level;
(6) make recommendations on how Federal drought laws and
programs can be better integrated with ongoing State, local,
and tribal programs into a comprehensive national policy to
mitigate the impacts of and respond to drought emergencies
without diminishing the rights of States to control water
through State law and considering the need for protection of
(7) make recommendations on improving public awareness of the
need for drought mitigation, prevention, and response and on
developing a coordinated approach to drought mitigation,
prevention, and response by governmental and nongovernmental
entities, including academic, private, and nonprofit interests;
(8) include a recommendation on whether all Federal drought
preparation and response programs should be consolidated under
one existing Federal agency and, if so, identify such agency.
(c) Submission of Report.--
(1) In general.--No later than 18 months after the date of
the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit a report
to the President and Congress which shall contain a detailed
statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission,
together with its recommendations for such legislation and
administrative actions as it considers appropriate.
(2) Approval of report.--Before submission of the report, the
contents of the report shall be approved by unanimous consent
or majority vote. If the report is approved by majority vote,
members voting not to approve the contents shall be given the
opportunity to submit dissenting views with the report.
SEC. 5. POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.
(a) Hearings.--The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at
such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence
as the Commission considers necessary to carry out the purposes of this
(b) Information From Federal Agencies.--The Commission may secure
directly from any Federal department or agency such information as the
Commission considers necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
Upon request of the chair of the Commission, the head of such
department or agency shall furnish such information to the Commission.
(c) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States mails
in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments
and agencies of the Federal Government.
(d) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or
donations of services or property.
SEC. 6. COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.
(a) Compensation of Members.--Each member of the Commission who is
not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall not be
compensated for service on the Commission, except as provided under
subsection (b). All members of the Commission who are officers or
employees of the United States shall serve without compensation in
addition to that received for their services as officers or employees
of the United States.
(b) Travel Expenses.--The members of the Commission shall be allowed
travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates
authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57
of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular
places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.
(c) Detail of Government Employees.--Any Federal Government employee
may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement, and such
detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or
(d) Administrative Support.--The Secretary of Agriculture shall
provide all financial, administrative, and staff support services for
SEC. 7. TERMINATION OF THE COMMISSION.
The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the
Commission submits its report under section 4.
purpose and summary
The purpose of H.R. 3035, the ``National Drought Policy Act
of 1998,'' is to establish a Commission to report to the
President and Congress on ways to coordinate and improve
drought management policies. The bill establishes a National
Drought Policy Commission, to be composed of Federal, State,
local and private sector representatives. Commission members
are to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an
integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for
and respond to serious drought emergencies. The Commission
terminates 90 days after submitting its report and
recommendations to the President and Congress.
background and need for legislation
The nation lacks a coordinated, integrated approach to
drought management. In many respects, drought presents one of
the most challenging dilemmas for policy makers, managers and
citizens. it can be both pervasive and covert, moving slowly
yet steadily into an entire region. This ``creeping
phenomenon'' also differs from other natural hazards, such as
tornadoes or flashfloods, in that it lacks any precise or
universally accepted definition, seldom results in structural
damage, and can linger for lengthy periods of time in affected
areas. The result is that, compared to other disasters, drought
often receives minimal attention in advances or uncoordinated,
delayed responses. Drought, like other types of disasters,
tends to prompt a crisis management, rather than risk
Drought also has the potential to inflict enormous damage
and suffering equal to or greater than other forms of natural
disasters. For example, the Great Plains drought of the 1930's
which gave the nation the Dust Bowl, is considered one of the
most significant events of this century. More recent droughts
have caused substantial and far reaching suffering, and
indicate that droughts can hit any region of the country. From
1950 to 1954, the Southwest and Southern Plains suffered a
severe drought resulting in the death of millions of cattle and
forcing hundreds of ranchers to ship their livestock to other
regions of the country. In the early 1960s, a drought affected
the Northeast for several years and from 1975 to 1977 a lack of
winter snowfall resulted in extreme drought conditions in the
The worst drought since the days of the Dust Bowl struck
the Midwest and parts of the Southeast in 1988. It caused
serious damage to grain crops and livestock, slowed economic
development, and placed severe strains on the natural
environment. The Federal Government responded with nearly $5
billion in disaster relief. However, the total economic losses
to agriculture, energy, transportation, and recreation/tourism
associated with the 1988 drought were estimated at nearly $40
In response to the need for a more integrated and proactive
approach to drought management, Representative Joe Skeen (New
Mexico) introduced H.R. 3035 on November 12, 1997. The
introduced bill was a companion to S. 222, which the Senate
passed on November 12, 1997.
discussion of committee bill and section-by-section analysis
Section 1. Short title
Section 1 identifies the short title of the Act as the
``National Drought Policy Act of 1998.''
Section 2. Findings
Section 2 makes findings regarding the serious economic and
environmental losses from severe regional droughts and the need
for a Federal strategy to respond to such emergencies. The
findings also identify the need for coordination among Federal
agencies and State, local and tribal governments to respond to
drought emergencies and to emphasize preparedness, mitigation,
and risk management.
Section 3. Establishment of the Commission
Section 3 establishes a National Drought Policy Commission
composed of 16 members, including the Secretary of Agriculture,
the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of the Army, the
Secretary of Commerce, the Director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, the Administrator of the Small Business
Administration, two persons nominated by the National
Governors' Association, one person nominated by the National
Association of Counties, one person nominated by the United
States Conference of Mayors, and six persons representing
groups acutely affected by drought emergencies, such as the
agricultural production community, the credit community, rural
and urban water association, Native Americans, and fishing and
The Committee anticipates that Federal agency members will
consult with other appropriate Federal agencies, such as the
Environmental Protection Agency, that have interests in various
aspects of drought management. The Committee also intends the
Commission to have balanced representation with respect to
The Secretary of Agriculture will chair the Commission. The
Committee anticipates the Secretary of Army, acting through the
Corps of Engineers, the Secretary of the Interior, and the
Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to play
major roles in the Commission's deliberations. The Commission
is to select a vice chair from among the members who are not
Federal officers or employees.
Section 4. Duties of the Commission
Section 4 requires the Commission to conduct a thorough
study and submit a report to the President and Congress on
national drought policy within 18 months.
The study and report must: determine the need at the
Federal, State, local and Tribal levels to prepare for and
respond to drought emergencies; review Federal laws and
programs related to drought; review pertinent State, local and
Tribal laws and programs relating to drought; determine the
differences between the identified needs and the Federal laws
and programs designed to address such needs; consider regional
drought initiatives; and, make recommendations with respect to
integration with ongoing programs, improving public awareness,
developing a coordinated approach to drought mitigation, and
consolidating Federal drought preparation and response
In order to accomplish its duties in the most effective and
balanced manner, the Commission is directed to consult and
coordinate with drought management experts and organizations
throughout the nation.
The Commission is also directed to review the findings and
recommendations contained in and materials referenced by the
Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission in its Final
Report released in 1998, particularly the report ``Improving
Drought Management in the West.''
Section 5. Powers of the Commission
Section 5 provides the Commission with the authority to
hold hearings, take testimony and receive evidence. The
Commission also has the authority to obtain information
directly from Federal agencies, use the United States mails in
the same manner as agencies of the Federal Government, and
accept, use, and dispose of donations of services or property.
Section 6. Commission personnel matters
Section 6 addresses Commission personnel matters by
providing that members of the Commission shall not be
compensated for service on the Commission, but may receive
eligible travel expenses. Federal Government employees may be
detailed to the Commission. Financial, administrative, and
staff support services for the Commission are to be provided by
the Secretary of Agriculture.
Section 7. Termination of the Commission
Section 7 requires the Commission to terminate 90 days
after it submits its report.
On January 28, 1998, the Water Resources and Environment
Subcommittee held a hearing on ``Disaster Mitigation'' and
related issues. Testimony was presented by, among others,
Representative Joe Skeen (New Mexico); Director James L. Witt,
Federal Emergency Management Agency; Dr. John H. Zirschky,
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works); Mr. Joseph F.
Myers, National Emergency Management Association; Mr. Scott
Faber, American Rivers; and, Dr. Donald A. Wilhite, University
of Nebraska. Written comments of the Department of Agriculture
and the Western Governors' Association were also submitted.
On March 26, 1998 the Subcommittee on Water Resources and
Environment adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute
offered by Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert (NY) and
favorably reported the amended bill by a unanimous voice vote.
The amendment made technical and clarifying changes; added two
non-federal members to the Commission to represent rural and
urban water users and fishing and environmental interests;
emphasized the need for disaster preparedness and mitigation,
increased public education, and coordination between public and
private sectors; enhanced the Commission's consideration of
environmental issues and impacts; and provided more flexibility
regarding the participation of other parties and entities in
the Commission's proceedings.
On May 6, 1998, the Committee ordered the bill, as amended,
reported by voice vote.
Clause 2(l)(2)(B) of rule XI requires each committee report
to include the total number of votes cast for and against on
each roll call vote on a motion to report and on any amendment
offered to the measure or matter, and the names of those
members voting for and against. There were no recorded votes
taken in connection with ordering H.R. 3035 reported. A motion
by Mr. Boehlert to order H.R. 3035, as amended, reported to the
House, was unanimously agreed to by voice vote, a quorum being
cost of the legislation
Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives does not apply where a cost estimate and
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of
1974 has been timely submitted prior to the filing of the
report and is included in the report. Such a cost estimate is
included in this report.
compliance with house rule xi
1. Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, oversight findings and
recommendations have been made by the Committee as reflected in
2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee
references the report of the Congressional Budget Office
3. With respect to requirement of clause (2)(l)(3)(C) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 3035.
4. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and
section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R.
3035 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, May 11, 1998.
Hon. Bud Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of
Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3035, the National
Drought Policy Act of 1998.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Gary Brown
and David Hull.
James L. Blum,
(for June E. O'Neill, Director.)
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
H.R. 3035--National Drought Policy Act of 1998
Summary: H.R. 3035 would establish an advisory commission
to provide advice and recommendations to the President and the
Congress on the creation of an integrated federal policy
designed to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. The
commission would submit a report recommending a national
drought policy within 18 months of enactment of the bill. The
Secretary of Agriculture would provide all financial,
administrative, and staff support services for the commission.
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3035 would cost
between $500,000 and $1 million over the 1999-2003 period,
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. H.R. 3035
would not affect direct spending or receipts; therefore pay-as-
you-go procedures would not apply. The legislation contains no
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) and would impose no
costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
Estimated cost to the Federal Government: CBO estimates
that implementing H.R. 3035 would result in new spending
subject to appropriation of less than $500,000 in each of
fiscal years 1999 and 2000 and that the total cost of
implementing the bill would be between $500,000 and $1 million.
Those costs would be subject to appropriation of the necessary
Basis of estimate: For purposes of this estimate, CBO
assumes that (1) H.R. 3035 is enacted by the beginning of
fiscal year 1999, (2) commissioners are appointed within two
months of enactment, (3) the commission submits its report with
its recommendations for a national drought policy in fiscal
year 2000, (4) the commission ceases to exist within three
months after submitting the report, and (5) all amounts
estimated to be authorized by the bill are appropriated.
The commission would consist of 16 members, including six
federal officers representing the Departments of Agriculture,
the Interior, the Army, and Commerce, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, and the Small Business Administration. The
other 10 (nonfederal) members would nominated by the Secretary
of Agriculture and by state, county, and city associations.
CBO anticipates that requiring federal officers to sit on
the commission and detailing federal employees to the
commission would collectively create a need for additional
staff and overtime compensation at the affected agencies. The
commission would incur additional cost for travel and per diem
expenses of its members, communications, supplies, printing and
other general expenses. We estimate that the total cost of
temporarily replacing individuals assigned to the commission
and the general expenses of the commission would require new
spending subject to appropriation of less than $500,000 a year
for 1999 and 2000.
The six federal officials that would serve on the
commission would be compensated by their employing agency while
performing commission business (but could not receive
compensation in addition to that received in connection with
their normal positions). The 10 nonfederal members of the
commission would be reimbursed only for travel expenses,
including per diem in lieu of subsistence while away from home
or their regular place of business.
Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 3035
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or
Previous CBO estimate: On November 7, 1997, CBO provided an
estimate for S. 222, the National Drought Policy Act of 1997,
as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Governmental
Affairs on November 5, 1997. The two bills are similar and the
estimates of total cost are identical.
Estimate prepared by: Gary Brown and David Hull.
Estimate approved by: Paul N. Van de Water, Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
constitutional authority statement
Pursuant to clause (2)(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, committee reports on a bill or joint
resolution of a public character shall include a statement
citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the
Constitution to enact the measure. The Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure finds that Congress has the
authority to enact this measure pursuant to its powers granted
under article I, section 8 of the Constitution.
federal mandates statement
The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of federal
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
advisory committee statement
The bill establishes an advisory committee within the
meaning of section 5(b) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
In the view of the Committee the functions of the Commission
are not and could not be accomplished by one or more other
agencies or by an advisory committee already in existence, or
by enlarging the mandate of an existing advisory committee.
applicability to the legislative branch
The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public
services or accommodations within the meaning of section
102(b)(3) of the Congressional accountability Act.
changes in existing law made by the bill, as reported
H.R. 3035 makes no changes in existing law.
exchange of letters
House of Representatives,
Committee on Resources,
Washington, DC, May 21, 1998.
Hon. Bud Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rayburn House
Office Building, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: I understand that the Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure recently ordered reported
H.R. 3035, the National Drought Policy Act of 1998, authored by
Congressman Skeen of New Mexico.
In recognition of your Committee's desire and that of
Congressman Skeen to move this legislation expeditiously
through the House of Representatives, the Committee on
Resources agrees to waive its additional referral of the bill.
However, this action should not be construed as waiving or
otherwise diminishing the Committee on Resources' jurisdiction
over the bill or issues associated with H.R. 3035. In addition,
should a conference on H.R. 3035 or a similar measure become
necessary, I would ask you to support the Committee on
Resources be represented on the conference committee. Finally,
I ask that you make this letter a part of the Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure's report on the bill.
Once again, it has been a pleasure working with you and
your staff, and I look forward to seeing H.R. 3035 scheduled
for Floor consideration very soon.
Don Young, Chairman.
House of Representatives,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
Washington, DC, May 21, 1998.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources, Longworth House Office Building,
Dear Chairman Young: Thank you for contacting me regarding
the jurisdictional interest of the Committee on Resources over
H.R. 3035, the National Drought Policy Act of 1998.
I appreciate the decision of the Committee on Resources to
be discharged from further consideration of the bill in the
interest of moving it forward expeditiously. I agree that this
should not be viewed as a waiver of any jurisdictional claim
that you might have over the bill or issues associated with the
I appreciate your cooperation and the cooperation of your
With kind personal regards, I am
Bud Shuster, Chairman.