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116th Congress    }                                    {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                    {        116-29

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

 
  TO AMEND SECTION 327 OF THE ROBERT T. STAFFORD DISASTER RELIEF AND 
  EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ACT TO CLARIFY THAT NATIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND 
    RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM TASK FORCES MAY INCLUDE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

                                _______
                                

 April 2, 2019.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. DeFazio, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 639]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 639) to amend section 327 of the 
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
to clarify that National Urban Search and Rescue Response 
System task forces may include Federal employees, 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.........................................................     2
Legislative History and Consideration............................     2
Committee Votes..................................................     2
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     3
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     3
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     4
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     4
Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
  Benefits.......................................................     5
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Preemption Clarification.........................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     5

                         Purpose of Legislation

    The purpose of H.R. 639 is to amend section 327 of the 
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
to clarify that National Urban Search and Rescue Response 
System task forces may include federal employees.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    H.R. 639 is a technical correction which would amend 
section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
Emergency Assistance Act to explicitly clarify that federal 
employees are able to participate in the National Urban Search 
and Rescue (USAR) Response System task forces coordinated by 
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
    The FEMA has developed the National USAR Response System 
over the last several decades to act as a force multiplier for 
disaster rescue missions. The System is comprised of 28 task 
force teams from across the country and comprised of highly 
skilled volunteers who are constantly training for a variety of 
hazard scenarios, both man-made and natural, and task force 
teams have proven their effectiveness time and again.
    Following enactment of the National Urban Search and Rescue 
Response System Act (P.L. 114-326), certain federal agencies 
that employ members of some of these task forces have been 
misinterpreting language which granted liability protections 
for non-federal task force members equal to federal first 
responders--only when their task force was called into federal 
service--resulting in an impediment to those federal employees 
serving on a task force.

                                Hearings

    No hearings were held on H.R. 639 in the 116th Congress.

                 Legislative History and Consideration

    H.R. 639 was introduced in the House on January 17, 2019, 
by Mrs. Hartzler and referred to the Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure. Within the Committee, H.R. 
639 was referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, 
Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.
    The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, 
and Emergency Management was discharged from further 
consideration of H.R. 639 on February 27, 2019.
    The Committee met on February 27, 2019, to consider H.R. 
639, and ordered the measure to be reported to the House with a 
favorable recommendation, without amendment, 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. 639. A motion to order H.R. 639 
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. 639 from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 12, 2019.
Hon. Peter A. DeFazio,
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. 639, a bill to 
amend section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
Emergency Assistance Act to clarify that National Urban Search 
and Rescue Response System task forces may include Federal 
employees.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jon Sperl.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.
    
    

    H.R. 639 would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify that federal employees 
may serve on task forces under the National Urban Search and 
Rescue Response System. That system consists of about 5,700 
personnel--mostly state and local government employees--who 
serve on 28 task forces across the country and which are 
coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 
There are currently 60 federal employees serving on task 
forces.
    Using information from FEMA, CBO estimates that 
implementing the bill would increase the number of federal 
employees serving on task forces and also would enhance the 
retention of those employees. Under current law, FEMA 
reimburses state and local governments, as well as federal 
employees serving on task forces, for the costs of activating 
members for federal service. Because the bill would not 
increase the total number of personnel serving on task forces 
who are compensated by the federal government--only the mix of 
federal and nonfederal employees--CBO estimates that the 
legislation would not increase federal spending on task forces. 
Federal agencies could incur costs to cover the regular 
activities of their employees while they are deployed on task 
forces, but CBO estimates that those costs would not be 
significant.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jon Sperl. The 
estimate was reviewed 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 
clarify that National Urban Search and Rescue Response System 
task forces may include federal employees.

                    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. 639 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.

   Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
                                Benefits

    In compliance with rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, this bill, as reported, contains no 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of the rule 
XXI.

                       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 
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 finds that H.R. 639 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 were created by this 
legislation.

                  Applicability to 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 the Legislation


Sec. 1. Federal Employees and National Urban Search and Rescue Response 
        System Task Forces

    This section amends Section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford 
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify that 
nothing in Section 327 shall be construed to mean that a task 
force may not include federal employees and that in the case of 
a federal employee detailed to a National Urban Search and 
Rescue Response System task force, the sponsoring agency shall 
enter into an agreement with the relevant employing federal 
agency.

         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 (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no is proposed is 
shown in roman):

         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 (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 III--MAJOR DISASTER AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ADMINISTRATION

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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, one 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. 3796b), 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) Federal Employees.--Nothing in this section shall be 
construed to mean that a task force may not include Federal 
employees. In the case of a Federal employee detailed to a task 
force, the sponsoring agency shall enter into an agreement with 
the relevant employing Federal agency.

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