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115th Congress    }                                    {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                    {       115-100

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

 
     AMENDING THE ROBERT T. STAFFORD DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY 
  ASSISTANCE ACT CONCERNING THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR ACTIONS TO 
   RECOVER DISASTER OR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS, AND FOR OTHER 
                                PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

 April 28, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and 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. 1678]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 1678) to amend the Robert T. 
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
concerning the statute of limitations for actions to recover 
disaster or emergency assistance payments, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose of Legislation...........................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Legislative History and Consideration............................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     5
Advisory of Earmarks.............................................     5
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     6
Federal Mandate Statement........................................     6
Preemption Clarification.........................................     6
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     6
Applicability of Legislative Branch..............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of Legislation.......................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     6

                         Purpose of Legislation

    H.R. 1678 amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) concerning the statute 
of limitations for actions to recover disaster or emergency 
assistance.

                  Background and Need for Legislation


Federal Emergency Management Agency: History

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was 
established in 1979 by Executive Order 12148 by President Jimmy 
Carter in response to a number of massive disasters in the 
1960s and 1970s. As a result of states trying to manage these 
disasters, the National Governors Association and others made a 
proposal to streamline and cut the number of agencies states 
were required to work with following a disaster. Prior to the 
creation of FEMA, the federal government's emergency response 
mechanisms were scattered among many agencies throughout 
government. The creation of FEMA helped to centralize these 
authorities and the coordination of the federal government's 
response to a disaster. The Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (P.L. 
93-288), which constituted the statutory authority for most 
federal disaster response activities, especially of FEMA, was 
later amended by the Stafford Act (P.L. 100-707).
    Following more than two decades as an independent agency, 
the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) created the 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), placed FEMA within DHS, 
and FEMA's functions were dispersed among various offices and 
directorates within DHS. In 2006, following Hurricanes Katrina 
and Rita and the intensive Congressional investigations and 
oversight, Congress enacted the Post-Katrina Emergency 
Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) (P.L. 109-295), which 
addresses key response roles and authorities and put FEMA back 
together again within DHS. PKEMRA authorized the National 
Preparedness System and FEMA for the first time in legislation. 
Most recently, Congress enacted the Sandy Recovery Improvement 
Act (SRIA) (P.L. 113-2), on January 29, 2013, in the wake of 
Hurricane Sandy's impact to the East Coast. SRIA provided 
additional authorities to expedite and streamline Hurricane 
Sandy recovery efforts, reduce costs, and improve the 
effectiveness of several disaster assistance programs 
authorized by the Stafford Act.

Disaster response and recovery

    When the President declares a major disaster or emergency, 
the official declaration triggers certain federal response 
authorities and financial disaster assistance. In particular, 
when a declaration is made, the President is authorized to 
direct any federal agency, with or without reimbursement, to 
assist state and local governments and protect life and 
property. FEMA is responsible for coordinating federal agency 
response and ensuring the necessary federal capabilities are 
deployed at the appropriate place and time in support of state 
and local response efforts. In addition, FEMA provides direct 
support and financial assistance to states and local 
governments and individuals as authorized under the Stafford 
Act.

Statute of limitations

    H.R. 1678 clarifies the three-year statute of limitations 
on FEMA actions to recover funds from grantees, and establishes 
that the statute of limitations begins to run when each project 
has been concluded. FEMA's existing regulations for ``payment 
of claims'' requires that each subgrantee notify the state when 
all projects have been completed. The Committee understands 
FEMA does not have a consistent form for how this notification 
is provided. Therefore, FEMA should accept reasonable 
notifications submitted to meet this requirement as 
satisfaction of meeting the requirement to submit an 
``expenditure report for project completion as certified by the 
grantee,'' as stated in the legislation. This can include a 
final letter indicating completion or other written 
communication that funds have been expended and the project is 
complete. The Committee urges FEMA to work closely with 
grantees to encourage the timely closeout of projects. The 
Committee also encourages FEMA to develop a uniform process and 
clear guidance for grantees and subgrantees to meet this 
requirement.
    This legislative change is applicable to any action FEMA 
has pending against a state, local, or tribal government to 
recover disaster assistance payments where the grantee has not 
received a final agency determination (e.g., the applicant has 
not exhausted all administrative remedies and their appeals 
have not concluded).

                                Hearings

    The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, 
and Emergency Management, held no hearings on this topic in the 
115th Congress. However, the following hearings and roundtable 
discussions were held by the Subcommittee on subjects related 
to matters contained in H.R. 1678 during the 114th Congress:
          ``Rebuilding after the Storm: Lessening Impacts and 
        Speeding Recovery'' held on January 27, 2015. The 
        purpose of the hearing was to launch an assessment of 
        the rising costs of disasters, the cost effectiveness 
        of disaster assistance, strategies to reduce disaster 
        losses, and the appropriate roles of government and the 
        private sector, and to consider reforms to save lives 
        through improved alerts and warning systems and search 
        and rescue.
          ``What is Driving the Increasing Costs and Rising 
        Losses from Disasters?'' held on March 18, 2015. The 
        purpose of the roundtable was to examine and discuss 
        data related to disaster costs, the trends observed 
        over time, and the projections for the future given the 
        policies in place today.
          ``The State of Pennsylvania and FEMA Region III are 
        Leaders in Mitigating Disaster Costs and Losses'' held 
        on May 28, 2015. The purpose of the roundtable was to 
        examine disaster costs and losses, focus on hazards 
        impacting Pennsylvania and the region, and identify 
        best practices for mitigating and avoiding disaster 
        impacts.
          ``Federal Disaster Assistance: Roles, Programs and 
        Coordination'' held on June 17, 2015. The purpose of 
        the roundtable was to examine and discuss federal 
        disaster assistance programs, the requirements and 
        effectiveness of those programs, and coordination among 
        various agencies and stakeholders.
          ``Controlling the Rising Cost of Federal Responses to 
        Disaster'' held on May 12, 2016. The purpose of the 
        hearing was to begin exploring potential solutions and 
        the principles that should be driving solutions to 
        lower the overall costs of disasters and to help avoid 
        devastating losses.

                 Legislative History and Consideration

    On March 22, 2017, Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) 
introduced H.R. 1678, a bill to amend the Stafford Act 
concerning the statute of limitations for actions to recover 
disaster or emergency assistance payments.
    On March 29, 2017, the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure met in open session to consider H.R. 1678. The 
Committee ordered the bill reported favorably to the House by 
voice vote with a quorum present.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires each committee report to include the 
total number of votes cast for and against on each record 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 consideration of H.R. 1678 or ordering the measure 
reported. A motion to order H.R. 1678 reported favorably to the 
House was agreed to by voice vote with a quorum present.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(1) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) 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.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1678 from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                                    April 20, 2017.
Hon. Bill 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. 1678, a bill to 
amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
Assistance Act concerning the statute of limitations for 
actions to recover disaster or emergency assistance payments, 
and for other purposes.
    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.

H.R. 1678--A bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
        Emergency Assistance Act concerning the statute of limitations 
        for actions to recover disaster or emergency assistance 
        payments, and for other purposes

    H.R. 1678 would establish a three-year statute of 
limitations on actions to recover Federal Emergency Management 
Agency (FEMA) grants provided to state or local governments 
following a declared disaster. That limitation would not apply 
in situations where there is evidence of fraud, waste, or 
abuse. Under current law, FEMA has the authority to recover 
disaster assistance grants that are unspent at any time after 
the date of disbursement.
    Enacting H.R. 1678 could reduce the amount of unspent 
disaster assistance recovered by FEMA. The loss of such 
recoveries, which are treated as reductions in direct spending 
when they are collected, would increase direct spending of 
previously appropriated funds; therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures apply. Those recoveries, which CBO estimates would 
not be significant in any year, are deposited into the Disaster 
Relief Fund and are available to be spent without further 
appropriation; therefore, CBO estimates that the net effect on 
the deficit would be negligible. Enacting the bill would not 
affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 1678 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 1678 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
performance goal and objective of this legislation is to amend 
the statute of limitations governing the Administrator of 
FEMA's actions to recover disaster or emergency assistance 
payments.

                          Advisory of Earmarks

    Pursuant to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the Committee is required to include a list 
of congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited 
tariff benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of 
rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives. No 
provision in the bill includes an earmark, limited tax benefit, 
or limited tariff benefit under clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of 
rule XXI.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 1678 establishes or reauthorizes a program of the 
federal government known to be duplicative of another federal 
program, a program that was included in any report from the 
Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to 
section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a 
program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
the Committee finds that enacting H.R. 1678 does not direct the 
completion of a specific rule making within the meaning of 
section 551 of title 5, United States Code.

                       Federal Mandate 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 
Act (Public Law 104-4).

                        Preemption Clarification

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 
requires the report of any Committee on a bill or joint 
resolution to include a statement on the extent to which the 
bill or joint resolution is intended to preempt state, local, 
or tribal law. The Committee states that H.R. 1678 does not 
preempt any state, local, or tribal law.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act are created by this 
legislation.

                  Applicability of 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 (Public Law 
104-1).

               Section-by-Section Analysis of Legislation


Section 1: Statute of limitations

    Section 1 amends the Stafford Act to reestablish a three-
year statute of limitations once a report for project 
completion has been filed.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 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

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



TITLE VII--MISCELLANEOUS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SEC. 705. DISASTER GRANT CLOSEOUT PROCEDURES.

  (a) Statute of Limitations.--
          (1) In general.--[Except] Notwithstanding section 
        3716(e) of title 31, United States Code, and except as 
        provided in paragraph (2), no administrative action to 
        recover any payment made to a State or local government 
        for disaster or emergency assistance under this Act 
        shall be initiated in any forum after the date that is 
        3 years after the date of transmission of the final 
        expenditure [report for the disaster or emergency] 
        report for project completion as certified by the 
        grantee.
          (2) Fraud exception.--The limitation under paragraph 
        (1) shall apply unless there is evidence of civil or 
        criminal fraud.
  (b) Rebuttal of Presumption of Record Maintenance.--
          (1) In general.--In any dispute arising under this 
        section after the date that is 3 years after the date 
        of transmission of the final expenditure report for the 
        disaster or emergency, there shall be a presumption 
        that accounting records were maintained that adequately 
        identify the source and application of funds provided 
        for financially assisted activities.
          (2) Affirmative evidence.--The presumption described 
        in paragraph (1) may be rebutted only on production of 
        affirmative evidence that the State or local government 
        did not maintain documentation described in that 
        paragraph.
          (3) Inability to produce documentation.--The 
        inability of the Federal, State, or local government to 
        produce source documentation supporting expenditure 
        reports later than 3 years after the date of 
        transmission of the final expenditure report shall not 
        constitute evidence to rebut the presumption described 
        in paragraph (1).
          (4) Right of access.--The period during which the 
        Federal, State, or local government has the right to 
        access source documentation shall not be limited to the 
        required 3-year retention period referred to in 
        paragraph (3), but shall last as long as the records 
        are maintained.
  (c) Binding Nature of Grant Requirements.--A State or local 
government shall not be liable for reimbursement or any other 
penalty for any payment made under this Act if--
          (1) the payment was authorized by an approved 
        agreement specifying the costs;
          (2) the costs were reasonable; and
          (3) the purpose of the grant was accomplished.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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