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                                                          Calendar No. 578

114th Congress   }                                          {    Report
 2d Session      }                SENATE                    {    114-307
                                                                
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       


      NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM ACT OF 2016

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 2971

   TO AUTHORIZE THE NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM




                August 30, 2016.--Ordered to be printed
   Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of July 14, 2016
   
   
                                   _________ 
                                   
                      U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
                                WASHINGTON : 2016       
  
   
   
   
   
        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin, Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire          CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey
JONI ERNST, Iowa                     GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
BEN SASSE, Nebraska

                  Christopher R. Hixon, Staff Director
                Gabrielle D'Adamo Singer, Chief Counsel
              Colleen E. Berny, Professional Staff Member
              Gabrielle A. Batkin, Minority Staff Director
           John P. Kilvington, Minority Deputy Staff Director
               Mary Beth Schultz, Minority Chief Counsel
        Robert H. Bradley II, Minority Professional Staff Member
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk
                     
                     
                     
                     


                                                       Calendar No. 578
                                                       
114th Congress     }                                          {   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session        }                                          {  114-307

======================================================================



 
      NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM ACT OF 2016

                                _______
                                

                August 30, 2016.--Ordered to be printed

   Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of July 14, 2016

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2971]

 The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, to which 
was referred the bill (S. 2971) to authorize the National Urban Search 
    and Rescue Response System, having considered the same, reports 
 favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that the bill, as 
                           amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................6
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................6
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................8
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................8
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported...........10

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The purpose of S. 2971, the National Urban Search and 
Rescue Response System Act of 2016, is to improve the National 
Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R; System or 
System). This would be achieved through codifying the System's 
operational requirements and codifying workers' compensation 
and liability protections for its members while they are 
deployed. The legislation would also extend reemployment rights 
to System members and require the Administrator of the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assess and deliver a 
report to Congress on the life-cycle replacement schedule and 
costs associated with maintaining System equipment, as 
recommended by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

              II. Background and the Need for Legislation

    On March 27, 1964, the Prince William Sound region of 
Alaska was hit by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake, which killed a 
total of 131 people in Alaska, Oregon, and California.\1\ 
Following the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) 
produced over 30 articles that reported on the earthquake and 
made recommendations to the Federal Government on responding to 
future earthquakes.\2\ Congress later passed the Earthquake 
Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, which directed the President to 
designate responsible Federal agencies to organize emergency 
services and educate the public, state, and local officials to 
reduce the adverse consequences of an earthquake.\3\ These 
efforts were to be coordinated through the National Earthquake 
Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) that was also established by 
the legislation.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Alaska Earthquake Center, The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, 
Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, http://
www.aeic.alaska.edu/quakes/Alaska_1964_earthquake.html (last visited 
June 29, 2016).
    \2\Earthquake Hazards Program: Program History, USGS, http://
earthquake.usgs.gov/aboutus/history.php (last visited June 29, 2016).
    \3\Keith Bea, Cong. Research Serv., RS21073, Urban Search and 
Rescue Task Forces: Facts & Issues 2 (2005).
    \4\Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-124.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1980, Congress amended the Earthquake Hazards Reduction 
Act, requiring FEMA to serve as the lead for the NEHRP and 
submit an interagency coordination plan to Congress on 
earthquake hazard mitigation and response.\5\ According to the 
Congressional Research Service (CRS), this was the first time 
``Congress authorized federal action and responsibility for 
disaster response efforts traditionally considered the 
jurisdiction of state and local governments.''\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Keith Bea, Cong. Research Serv., RS21073, Urban Search and 
Rescue Task Forces: Facts & Issues 2 (2005).
    \6\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, both Congress 
and FEMA reevaluated the overall scope of the NEHRP and 
established the US&R; System, which encompasses a number of task 
forces whose mission it is to respond to ``the location, rescue 
(extrication), and initial medical stabilization of individuals 
trapped in confined spaces.''\7\ In 2004, Congress again 
amended the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act to require the 
FEMA Administrator to ``develop and coordinate the National 
Response Plan (NRP) and support state and local plans `to 
ensure the availability of adequate emergency medical 
resources, search and rescue personnel and equipment, and 
emergency broadcast capability.'''\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\Id. at 2-3; see also Urban Search & Rescue Overview, FEMA, 
https://www.fema.gov/urban-search-rescue (last visited June 29, 2016).
    \8\Keith Bea, Cong. Research Serv., RS21073, Urban Search and 
Rescue Task Forces: Facts & Issues 2 (2005); see also National 
Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2004, Pub. 
L. No. 108-360.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    After Hurricane Katrina, a Bush Administration review on 
the Federal response to the storm found that under the NRP, 
FEMA was the primary agency authorized to coordinate US&R; 
activities.\9\ However, the review also determined that the NRP 
only focused on urban search and rescue (rescuing victims 
trapped in collapsed structures) and the US&R; System did not 
have the adequate or consistent training and equipment required 
to perform water rescues.\10\ As a result, the review found 
that during Hurricane Katrina, the NRP failed to anticipate, 
plan for, and integrate search and rescue assets from other 
Federal agencies, such as the Department of Interior (DOI) and 
United States Coast Guard (USCG).\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, The 
White House 38 (Feb. 2006), available at http://www.floods.org/PDF/
Katrina_Lessons_Learned_0206.pdf.
    \10\Id.
    \11\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2006, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act 
formally authorized the US&R; System and addressed the limited 
scope of the NRP by expanding US&R; activities to include a 
range of search and rescue activities.\12\ Today, urban search 
and rescue activities are defined to include structural 
collapses, land search and rescues, and maritime, coastal, and 
waterborne search and rescue.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, 
Pub. L. No. 109-295.
    \13\National Response Framework, FEMA 33 (May 2013), available at 
http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1914-25045-1246/
final_national_response_framework_20130501.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As of 2016, 28 FEMA task forces located throughout the 
continental United States make up the US&R; System.\14\ These 
task forces are comprised of career and volunteer first 
responders, including firefighters, engineers, medical 
professionals, and canine/handler teams with specialized 
skillsets and training.\15\ Urban search and rescue task forces 
support state and local emergency response efforts by 
conducting physical search and rescue operations; providing 
emergency medical care; assessing damage and providing feedback 
to local, state, and Federal officials; assessing and shutting 
off utilities; surveying and evaluating hazardous material 
threats; providing structural and hazard evaluations; 
stabilizing damaged structures; and carrying out search and 
rescue operations in a water environment.\16\ In the event of 
an emergency or disaster, FEMA can deploy the three closest 
task forces within six hours of notification and additional 
teams as needed.\17\ In addition to the individual task forces, 
there are three Incident Support Teams (IST) comprised of 
highly qualified specialists that manage and support the task 
forces.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\National Urban Search & Rescue Response System: Task Force 
Locations, FEMA, http://www.fema.gov/task-force-locations (last visited 
June 15, 2016).
    \15\Gov't Accountability Office, GAO-16-87, Disaster Response: FEMA 
Hhas Made Progress Implementing Key Programs, but Opportunities for 
Improvement Exist 5-6 (2016).
    \16\Urban Search & Rescue Participants, FEMA, https://www.fema.gov/
urban-search-rescue-participants (last visited June 15, 2016).
    \17\National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Operations 
Manual, FEMA (September 2012), available at http://www.usarcd.org/
forms/manuals/Operations%20Manual%2012-001.pdf.
    \18\Urban Search & Rescue Participants, FEMA, https://www.fema.gov/
urban-search-rescue-participants (last visited June 15, 2016).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Codifying operational requirements

    S. 2971 codifies the operational requirements of the US&R; 
System, which includes affirming the FEMA Administrator's duty 
to continue to administer it; requiring the FEMA Administrator 
to provide for a national network of standardized search and 
rescue resources to assist state and local governments in 
responding to hazards; creating a task force designation 
process; and authorizing the FEMA Administrator to maintain 
management and technical teams as necessary to administer the 
System. The bill also authorizes such sums as are necessary to 
carry out the System for fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Codifying workers' compensation and selection of benefits

    Liability and other protections for official actions under 
the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and compensation for work 
injuries under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act have 
been interpreted to extend to System members when deployed 
temporarily into Federal service and are generally memorialized 
through memoranda and interagency guidance. For example, 
letters sent in 1996 from the Department of Justice to FEMA 
confirmed liability protections under the FTCA for US&R; System 
personnel in advance of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and 
in response to Hurricane Fran.\19\ In addition, US&R; Program 
Directive--2015-007 details the current policy in place between 
FEMA and the Department of Labor for workers' compensation 
protections.\20\ FEMA has also published rules for temporarily 
appointing System members who are activated into the Federal 
service for the purposes of workers' compensation and liability 
protections.\21\ However, without codifying these protections 
in Federal law, System members face uncertainty as the 
memoranda and interagency guidance could be rescinded or 
changed at any time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\Letter from Jeffrey Axelrad, Director, Torts Branch, to John P. 
Carey, Gen. Counsel, FEMA (July 18, 1996) (on file with HSGAC staff); 
see also Letter from Jeffrey Axelrad, Director, Torts Branch, to John 
P. Carey, Gen. Counsel, FEMA (Sept. 4, 1996) (on file with HSGAC 
staff).
    \20\Letter from National Urban Search & Rescue Response System Task 
Force Representatives, FEMA, to Fred Endrikat, Chief, Urban Search & 
Rescue Branch, FEMA (Nov. 16, 2015) (on file with HSGAC staff).
    \21\44 CFR Sec. 208.11 (2014).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    S. 2971 covers System members appointed into Federal 
service for personal injury, illness, disability, or death as a 
result of an injury sustained while acting within the scope of 
the appointment. It entitles the System members (or, in the 
case of the death of the System member, the System member's 
dependent), by reason of personal injury, illness, disability, 
or death, to elect to receive certain benefits as if the person 
were a Federal employee or to receive any benefits for which a 
System member qualifies for from a State or local government. 
S. 2971 also provides that System members appointed into 
Federal service under the bill shall be considered to be an 
employee of the Federal Government under section 1346(b) of 
Title 28 of the United States Code and chapter 171 of that 
title, relating to tort claims procedure, while acting within 
the scope of employment.

Extending reemployment rights to system members

    Some US&R; System members, like medical doctors, engineers, 
and heavy riggers, have the necessary skillsets to rescue 
survivors during a disaster, but are not State or local 
employees. During a June 2016 survey of 27 of the 28 search and 
rescue task forces, FEMA determined that approximately 14 
percent of the US&R; System members were not employed by a State 
or local agency.\22\ These System members do not have 
protections and safeguards to protect them from termination 
while they are deployed into the field for urban search and 
rescue operations. Because of this lack of protections, US&R; 
System members are at risk of losing their regular jobs after 
returning home from deployment. According to Mark Kramer, 
Assistant Chief/Operations, Orange County Fire Authority, 
Sponsoring Agency Chief, California Task Force 5, this 
unfortunately occurred in a past disaster--Hurricane Katrina--
when a heavy rigger who ``gave his heart and soul to the 
response,'' was deployed to Louisiana and terminated by his 
employer upon returning home a couple weeks later.\23\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \22\Data provided by FEMA (June 13, 2016) (on file with Comm. 
staff).
    \23\Testimony by Mark Kramer, Assistant Chief/Operations, Orange 
County Fire Authority, Sponsoring Agency Chief, California Task Force 
5, FEMA's Urban Search & Rescue Program in Haiti: How to Apply Lessons 
Learned at Home: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Economic Development, 
Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the H. Comm. on 
Transportation and Infrastructure, 111th Cong. (2010).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Currently, uniformed services and others covered under the 
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act are 
protected from termination from their current position while 
serving in a military capacity. In the past, these protections 
have been extended to private sector members of the National 
Disaster Medical System\24\ which, like the US&R; System, is 
composed of a number of highly skilled individuals like medical 
doctors who are activated and deployed across the country, 
often without much notice, to respond to emergencies.\25\ S. 
2971 would provide that a US&R; System member who is not a 
regular full-time employee of a sponsoring agency (a State or 
local government that is the sponsor of a task force designated 
by the Administrator to participate in the System) or 
participating agency (a State or local government, nonprofit 
organization, or private organization that has executed an 
agreement with a sponsoring agency to participate in the 
System), will be considered a member of the ``uniformed 
services'' and afforded the same rights and obligations as 
Federal service members with regard to assistance, enforcement 
actions, and investigations for the purposes of retaining their 
positions at their place of employment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \24\See 42 U.S.C. Sec. 300hh-11 and 20 CFR Sec. 1002.5 (2005).
    \25\National Disaster Medical System, U.S. Department of Health and 
Human Services, http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/responders/ndms/Pages/
default.aspx.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Report to Congress

    After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the US&R; 
System developed operational capabilities to respond to 
chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive 
environments.\26\ Recently, task forces have reported 
challenges to fund the maintenance and replacement of their 
equipment caches.\27\ Some of these items, like bandages, are 
low-cost and routinely replaced, whereas other items, such as 
the strut system used to support collapsed buildings, require 
regular maintenance and are costly to replace.\28\ A February 
2016 GAO report found that FEMA has not developed a 
comprehensive plan to prioritize and fund the replacement of 
all items in the equipment cache\29\ and recommended that FEMA 
develop a comprehensive plan to correct this issue.\30\ FEMA 
has concurred with this recommendation.\31\ This bill requires 
the FEMA Administrator to report to Congress on the development 
of plans, including implementation steps and timeframes, to 
finance, maintain, and replace System equipment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \26\Gov't Accountability Office, GAO-16-87, Disaster Response: FEMA 
has made Progress Implementing Key Programs, but opportunities for 
improvement exist 5 (2016).
    \27\Id. at 18.
    \28\Id.
    \29\Id.
    \30\Id. at 38.
    \31\Id at 39.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        III. Legislative History

    Representatives Louis Barletta, Andrew Carson, Bill 
Schuster, and Peter DeFazio introduced H.R. 1471, the FEMA 
Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015, on March 19, 2015, 
which was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure. The House Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure considered H.R. 1471 at a business meeting on 
February 29, 2016. On the same day, the bill passed the House 
of Representatives by voice vote and under suspension of the 
rules.
    The act was received in the Senate and referred to the 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on 
March 1, 2016.
    On May 23, 2016, Senators Rob Portman, Ron Johnson, and Tom 
Carper introduced S. 2971, the National Urban Search and Rescue 
Response System Act of 2016, which was derived from Section 301 
of H.R. 1471 as passed by the House of Representatives, and 
referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs.
    The Committee considered S. 2971 at a business meeting on 
May 25, 2016. The Committee favorably reported the bill by 
voice vote. Senators present for the vote were: Johnson, 
Portman, Paul, Lankford, Ayotte, Ernst, Sasse, Carper, 
McCaskill, Tester, Baldwin, Heitkamp, Booker, and Peters.
    Consistent with the Committee's order on technical and 
conforming changes at the business meeting, the Committee 
reports the bill with a technical amendment by mutual agreement 
of the full Committee majority and minority staff.

        IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported


Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the bill's short title, the 
``National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act of 
2016.''

Section 2. National Urban Search and Rescue Response System

    Subsection (a) of Section 2 amends Title III of the Robert 
T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to add 
a new section for the US&R; System.
    Subsection (a) of the new section provides definitions for 
the following terms: ``administrator,'' ``agency,'' ``hazard,'' 
``nonemployee system member,'' ``participating agency,'' 
``sponsoring agency,'' ``system,'' ``system member,'' and 
``task force.''
    Subsection (b) of the new section requires the FEMA 
Administrator to continue to administer the emergency response 
system, known as the US&R; System.
    Subsection (c) of the new section requires the FEMA 
Administrator to provide for a national network of standardized 
search and rescue resources to assist State and local 
governments responding to hazards.
    Subsection (d) of the new section requires the 
Administrator to designate task forces to participate in the 
System and allows the Administrator to determine the criteria 
for participation as a task force.
    Under subsection (e) of the new section, the FEMA 
Administrator is required to maintain management and technical 
teams as necessary to administer the System.
    Subsection (f) of the new section allows the FEMA 
Administrator to appoint a US&R; System member for a period of 
time so the System member can participate in exercises, pre-
incident staging, major disaster and emergency response 
activities and training events sponsored or sanctioned by the 
FEMA Administrator. The subsection also clarifies that a System 
member appointed into the Federal service in this manner shall 
not be considered an employee of the United States for purposes 
other than those laid out in this section.
    Subsection (g) of the new section describes the 
compensation available for US&R; System members while appointed 
to Federal service. Specifically, this subsection requires the 
Administrator to reimburse employers of System members for 
compensation paid by the employer while the System member was 
appointed to Federal service, and to make payments to 
nonemployee System members on the task force for the period of 
time they are appointed into the Federal service.
    Subsection (h) of the new section provides that a US&R; 
System member appointed into the Federal service and who 
suffers injury, illness, disability, or death, as a result of 
an injury that occurred while acting in the scope of employment 
can elect to receive injury, illness, disability, or death 
benefits under subchapter I of chapter 81 of title 5 or such 
benefits from the State or local government. The subsection 
provides that if a member elects to receive such benefits from 
a State or local government, the Administrator shall reimburse 
the State and local government for such benefits.
    Subsection (i) of the new section provides that a US&R; 
System member appointed into the Federal service under this 
bill, while acting within the scope of the appointment, shall 
be considered to be a Federal employee under section 1346(b) 
and Chapter 171 of Title 28 of the United States Codes, 
relating to the tort claims procedure.
    Subsection (j) of the new section makes a US&R; System 
member, who is not a regular full-time employee of a sponsoring 
agency or participating agency, a member of the ``uniformed 
services'' and affords him or her the same rights and 
obligations as service members with regard to assistance, 
enforcement actions, and investigations, as well as preclusion 
of giving notice of absence from a position of employment under 
chapter 43 of title 38.
    Under subsection (k) of the new section, a US&R; System 
member holding a valid state license, certificate, or other 
permit, is considered to be performing Federal activities when 
rendering aid involving such skill or assistance during a 
period of appointment into Federal service.
    Subsections (l) through (m) of the new section require the 
FEMA Administrator to enter into an annual preparedness 
cooperative agreement and a response cooperative agreement with 
each sponsoring agency, if funds are appropriated to cover the 
costs incurred by the sponsoring agency. The FEMA Administrator 
may reimburse costs for: training and exercises; the 
acquisition and maintenance of equipment; and the medical 
monitoring required for responder safety and health.
    Subsection (n) of the new section allows the FEMA 
Administrator to incur all necessary obligations to ensure the 
effectiveness of the US&R; System.
    Subsection (o) of the new section requires the FEMA 
Administrator to report to Congress, not later than 180 days 
after the date of enactment, on the development of plans, 
including implementation steps and timeframes, to finance, 
maintain, and replace US&R; System equipment.
    Subsection (p) of the new section authorizes such sums as 
are necessary to carry out the US&R; System for fiscal years 
2017, 2018, and 2019.
    Subsection (b) of the bill makes conforming changes to 
statute to account for the new provisions provided in the bill.

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                     July 14, 2016.
Hon. Ron Johnson, Chairman,
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 2971, the National 
Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act of 2016.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Robert Reese.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

S. 2971--National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act of 2016

    Summary: S. 2971 would amend the Robert T. Stafford 
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to specifically 
authorize operations of the National Urban Search and Rescue 
Response System through 2019. The bill would authorize the 
appropriation of such sums as may be necessary for the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue to administer 
that system. Under current law, the system maintains and 
manages emergency search and rescue teams and coordinates with 
state and local governments to mobilize those teams in the case 
of a natural disaster, terrorist activity, or other emergency.
    CBO estimates that implementing S. 2971 would cost $110 
million over the 2017-2021 period, assuming appropriation of 
the necessary amounts. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply to 
this legislation because enacting it would not affect direct 
spending or revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 2971 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    S. 2971 would impose intergovernmental and private-sector 
mandates, as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
(UMRA), by eliminating an existing right to seek compensation 
for damages and by requiring employers to allow members of the 
urban search and rescue response system to reclaim their jobs 
upon completing a deployment to a disaster. Based on 
information from FEMA, CBO estimates that the cost to comply 
with the mandates would fall below the annual thresholds 
established in UMRA for intergovernmental and private-sector 
mandates ($77 million and $154 million, respectively, in 2016, 
adjusted annually for inflation).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of S. 2971 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 450 
(community and regional development).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                         -------------------------------------------------------
                                                            2017     2018     2019     2020     2021   2017-2021
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Estimated Authorization Level...........................       36       37       38       40       40       111
Estimated Outlays.......................................       22       33       37       15        3       110
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 
2971 will be enacted near the start of 2017 and that the 
necessary amounts will be appropriated for each fiscal year. 
Estimated outlays are based on historical spending patterns for 
this program.
    S. 2971 would authorize the appropriation of such sums as 
may be necessary through 2019 for FEMA to administer the 
National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. In 2016, the 
Congress provided $35 million to operate that system. After 
accounting for anticipated increases in inflation, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 2971 would cost $110 million 
over the 2017-2021 period.
    S. 2971 would require FEMA to reimburse state and local 
governments for the value of any benefits those governments pay 
to people who are injured while serving on an emergency search 
and rescue team. Under current law, people who are injured 
while serving on those teams are entitled to receive disability 
benefits from either the federal government or the applicable 
state or local government, but the federal government is not 
required to reimburse state and local governments. Based on 
information from FEMA about the number and type of injuries 
resulting from such service, CBO expects that any increase in 
federal costs from reimbursing state and local governments 
(which would be subject to appropriation) would be 
insignificant.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Increase in long-term direct spending and deficits: CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 2971 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 2971 would 
impose intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, as 
defined in UMRA. CBO estimates that the cost to comply with the 
mandates to state, local, and tribal governments and the 
private sector would fall below the annual thresholds 
established in UMRA for such mandates ($77 million and $154 
million, respectively, in 2016, adjusted annually for 
inflation).
    Under current law, members of search and rescue task forces 
have protection from tort liability when participating in 
federal preparedness activities. The bill would expand that 
protection to include additional training exercises. Such 
protection would impose a mandate on public and private 
entities because it would eliminate an existing right to seek 
compensation for damages. According to FEMA, no claims for 
damage have been filed regarding a training exercise, nor does 
the agency expect that any such claims would be filed under 
current law. Therefore, CBO estimates that the costs, if any, 
of this mandate would be negligible.
    The bill also would require employers to allow task force 
members who are deployed to a disaster to reclaim their jobs 
upon completion of their service. According to FEMA, there are 
currently about 5,500 workers in the system; the duration of 
deployment is usually less than one month; and in general, most 
employers currently allow workers to reclaim their positions. 
Thus, CBO estimates that the cost for public and private-sector 
employers to comply with the mandate would fall below the 
annual thresholds.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Robert Reese; Impact 
on state, local, and tribal governments; Rachel Austin; Impact 
on the private sector: Paige Piper/Bach.
    Estimate approved by: H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 2971 as reported are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, and existing law in which no change is proposed is 
shown in roman):

ROBERT T. STAFFORD DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ACT

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TITLE III--MAJOR DISASTER AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ADMINISTRATION

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SEC. 327. NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section, the following 
definitions shall 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 the term in section 602.
          (4) Nonemployee system member.--The term 
        ``nonemployee System member'' means a System member not 
        employed by a sponsoring agency or participating 
        agency.
          (5) 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.
          (6) 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.
          (7) System.--The term ``System'' means the National 
        Urban Search and Rescue Response System to be 
        administered under this section.
          (8) System member.--The term ``System member'' means 
        an individual who is not a full-time employee of the 
        Federal Government and who serves on a task force or on 
        a System management or other technical team.
          (9) 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 
        Administration 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 with respect to 
        the participation of each task force in the System.
          (3) Composition.--
                  (A) Participating agencies.--A task force may 
                include, at the discretion of the sponsoring 
                agency, 1 or more participating agencies. The 
                sponsoring agency shall enter into an agreement 
                with each participating agency 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, other individuals not otherwise 
                associated with the sponsoring agency or a 
                participating agency. 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 
        considered 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) to make payments directly to a 
                nonemployee System member on the task force for 
                any period during which the nonemployee 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 be used 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.--A System member (or, in the 
                case of the death of the System member, the 
                System member's dependent) who is entitled 
                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 to receive 
                benefits from a State or local government by 
                reason of the same personal injury, illness, 
                disability or death shall elect to--
                          (i) receive benefits under such 
                        subchapter; or
                          (ii) receive benefits from the State 
                        or local government.
                  (B) Deadline.--A System member or dependent 
                shall make an election of benefits under 
                subparagraph (A) not later than 1 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, if a System 
        member or dependent elects to receive benefits from a 
        State or local government under paragraph (2)(A), the 
        Administrator shall reimburse the State or local 
        government for the value of the benefits.
          (4) Public safety officer claims.--Nothing in this 
        subsection shall be construed to bar any claim by, or 
        with respect to, any System member who is a public 
        safety officer, as defined in section 1204 of title I 
        of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 
        1968 (42 U.S.C. 3769b3796b), for any benefits 
        authorized under part L of title I of that Act (42 
        U.S.C. 3796 et seq.).
    (i) Liability.--A System member appointed into Federal 
service under subsection (f)(1), while acting within the scope 
of the appointment, shall be considered to be an employee of 
the Federal Government 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.--Service as a System member shall be 
        considered to be `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.--Preclusion of giving notice of 
        service by necessity of appointment under this section 
        shall be considered to be 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 
is 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) Preparedness Cooperative Agreements.--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:
          (1) Training and exercises, including training and 
        exercises with other Federal, State, and local 
        government response entities.
          (2) Acquisition and maintenance of equipment, 
        including interoperable communications and personal 
        protective equipment.
          (3) 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.
    (m) 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 or emergency.
    (n) Obligations.--The Administrator may incur all necessary 
obligations consistent with this section in order to ensure the 
effectiveness of the System.
    (o) Equipment Maintenance and Replacement.--Not later than 
180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the 
Administrator shall submit to the appropriate congressional 
committees (as defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security 
Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101)) a report on the development of a 
plan, including implementation steps and timeframes, to 
finance, maintain, and replace System equipment.
    (p) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized 
to be appropriated to carry out the System and the provisions 
of this section such sums as are necessary for each of fiscal 
years 2017, 2018, and 2019.

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UNITED STATES CODE

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TITLE 5--GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES

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PART III--EMPLOYEES

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Subpart G--Insurance and Annuities

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CHAPTER 81--COMPENSATION FOR WORK INJURIES

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                        Subchapter I--Generally


SECTION 8101. DEFINITIONS

    For the purpose of this subchapter----
          (1) ``employee'' means----
                  (A) * * *

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                  (D) an individual employed by the government 
                of the District of Columbia; [and]
                  (E) *  *  *
                  (F) an individual selected pursuant to 
                chapter 121 of title 28, [United States Code,] 
                and serving as a petit or grand juror; and
                  (G) 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;''.

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TITLE 38--VETERANS' BENEFITS

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PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

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   CHAPTER 43--EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE 
UNIFORMED SERVICES

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Subchapter I--General

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SECTION 4304. DEFINITIONS

    For the purposes of this chapter--

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          (13) The term ``service in the uniformed services'' 
        means the performance of duty on a voluntary or 
        involuntary basis in a uniformed service under 
        competent authority and includes active duty, active 
        duty for training, initial active duty for training, 
        inactive duty training, full-time National Guard duty, 
        a period for which a person is absent from a position 
        of employment for the purpose of an examination to 
        determine the fitness of the person to perform any such 
        duty, 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, and a period for which a person is 
        absent from employment for the purpose of performing 
        funeral honors duty as authorized by section 12503 of 
        title 10 or section 115 of title 32.
          (14) * * *
          (15) * * *
          (16) The term ``uniformed services'' means the Armed 
        Forces, the Army National Guard and the Air National 
        Guard when engaged in active duty for training, 
        inactive duty training, or full-time National Guard 
        duty, the commissioned corps of the Public Health 
        Service, 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, and any other category of persons 
        designated by the President in time of war or national 
        emergency.

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