[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 60 (Tuesday, April 5, 2022)]
[House]
[Pages H4170-H4175]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   RESILIENT ASSISTANCE FOR MITIGATION FOR ENVIRONMENTALLY RESILIENT 
            INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSTRUCTION BY AMERICANS ACT

  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 5689) to improve the provision of Federal resources to help 
build capacity and fund risk-reducing, cost-effective mitigation 
projects for eligible State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments 
and certain private nonprofit organizations, and for other purposes, as 
amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 5689

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Resilient Assistance for 
     Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and 
     Construction by Americans Act'' or the ``Resilient AMERICA 
     Act''.

     SEC. 2. PREDISASTER HAZARD MITIGATION.

       Section 203(i) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
     and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5133) is amended by 
     striking ``equal to 6 percent'' and inserting ``equal to not 
     more than 15 percent''.

     SEC. 3. NONPROFIT FACILITIES.

       Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
     Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5133) is amended--
       (1) in subsection (b) by striking ``and local governments'' 
     and inserting ``, local governments, and private nonprofit 
     facilities'';
       (2) in subsection (c) by striking ``or local government'' 
     in each place it appears and inserting ``, local government, 
     or private nonprofit facility'';
       (3) in subsection (d)--
       (A) in paragraph (1)(A) by striking ``local governments'' 
     and inserting ``local governments and private nonprofit 
     facilities'';
       (B) in paragraph (2)--
       (i) by striking ``local governments'' in each place it 
     appears and inserting ``local governments or private 
     nonprofit facilities''; and
       (ii) in subparagraph (B) by striking ``local government'' 
     and inserting ``local government or private nonprofit 
     facility''; and
       (C) in paragraph (3) by inserting ``or private nonprofit 
     facilities'' after ``any local governments of the State''.
       (4) in subsection (e)--
       (A) in paragraph (1)(A) by striking ``and local 
     governments'' and inserting ``, local governments, and 
     private nonprofit facilities''; and
       (B) in paragraph (2) by striking ``or local government'' in 
     each place it appears and inserting ``, local government, or 
     private nonprofit facility'';
       (5) in subsection (f)--
       (A) in paragraph (2) by inserting ``or private nonprofit 
     facilities located in the State'' after ``local governments 
     of the State''; and
       (B) in paragraph (3)(A) by inserting ``or private nonprofit 
     facilities located in the State'' after ``local governments 
     of a State''; and
       (6) in subsection (g) by striking ``or local government'' 
     in each place it appears and inserting ``, local government, 
     or private nonprofit facility''.

     SEC. 4. BUILDING CODE IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT SET 
                   ASIDE.

       (a) In General.--Section 203(f) of the Robert T. Stafford 
     Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 
     5133(m)) is amended--
       (1) by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4); and
       (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
       ``(3) Building code implementation and enforcement set-
     aside.--Of the amounts made available under this section for 
     any given year, the Administrator may use not less than 10 
     percent to carry out eligible activities that further the 
     implementation and enforcement of the latest published 
     editions

[[Page H4171]]

     of relevant consensus-based codes, specifications, and 
     standards, including any amendments made by State, local, 
     Tribal, or territorial governments to such codes, 
     specifications, and standards, that incorporate the latest 
     hazard-resistant designs and establish minimum acceptable 
     criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of 
     facilities and residential structures that may be eligible 
     for assistance under this Act. In any fiscal year in which 
     requests for assistance for such activities do not total at 
     least 10 percent of assistance under this section, any 
     remaining funds may be used as additional assistance for the 
     purposes of paragraph (1).''.
       (b) Latest Published Editions.--Section 203(m) of the 
     Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 5133(m)) is amended by inserting ``, (f)(3),'' 
     after ``subsections (e)(1)(B)(iv)''.
       (c) Conforming Amendment.--Section 1234 of the Disaster 
     Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (42 U.S.C. 5133 note) is amended 
     by striking subsection (d).

     SEC. 5. RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE.

       (a) Use of Assistance.--Subsection (g) of section 404 of 
     the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
     Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170c(g)) (as redesignated by 
     section 2) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (12)--
       (A) by inserting ``, wildfire, and ice storm'' after 
     ``windstorm'';
       (B) by striking ``including replacing'' and inserting the 
     following: ``including--
       ``(A) replacing'';
       (C) in subparagraph (A) (as so designated)--
       (i) by inserting ``, wildfire,'' after ``extreme wind''; 
     and
       (ii) by adding ``and'' after the semicolon at the end; and
       (D) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(B) the installation of fire-resistant wires and 
     infrastructure and the undergrounding of wires;'';
       (2) in paragraph (13) by striking ``and''; and
       (3) by striking paragraph (14) and inserting the following:
       ``(14) replacing water systems that have been burned, 
     caused contamination, or are at risk from wildfire impacts 
     with resilient, non-combustible materials;
       ``(15) repairing, replacing, or retrofitting infrastructure 
     damaged by ice storms to be resilient to the impacts of such 
     storms;
       ``(16) retrofitting or hardening electric grid 
     infrastructure to comply with the latest published strength 
     standards or industry best practices for resiliency, 
     including standards and practices relating to the strength of 
     utility poles in high wind areas, regardless of height; and
       ``(17) implementing technologies to improve infrastructure 
     monitoring and distribution for the purpose of reducing risk 
     and avoiding future disaster impacts and, notwithstanding 
     other requirements related to cost-effectiveness, to avoid 
     any unintended consequences under this section and section 
     203.''.
       (b) Use of Assistance for Earthquake Hazards.--Subsection 
     (h) of section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
     and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170c(h)) (as 
     redesignated by section 2) is amended--
       (1) by inserting ``and tsunami'' after ``earthquake'' each 
     place it appears (including in the subsection heading);
       (2) in paragraph (2) by striking ``and'' at the end;
       (3) in paragraph (3) by striking the period at the end and 
     inserting ``; and''; and
       (4) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(4) planning, design, or construction of vertical 
     evacuation structures in designated and mapped tsunami danger 
     areas or hazard zones.''.

     SEC. 6. RESIDENTIAL RETROFIT AND RESILIENCE PILOT PROGRAM.

       (a) Establishment.--The Administrator of the Federal 
     Emergency Management Agency shall carry out a residential 
     resilience pilot program through the program established 
     under section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
     and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5133) to make 
     available assistance to State and local governments for the 
     purpose of providing grants to individuals for residential 
     resilience retrofits.
       (b) Amount of Funds.--The Administrator may use not more 
     than 10 percent of the assistance made available to 
     applicants on an annual basis under section 203 of the Robert 
     T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 
     U.S.C. 5133) to provide assistance under this section.
       (c) Timeline.--The Administrator shall establish the 
     demonstration program under this section not later than 1 
     year after the date of enactment of this Act and the program 
     shall terminate on September 30, 2025.
       (d) Report.--Not later than 4 years after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and 
     Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report that includes--
       (1) a summary of the grant awards and projects carried out 
     under this section;
       (2) a detailed compilation of results achieved by the grant 
     awards and projects carried out under this section, including 
     the number of homes receiving retrofits, the types and 
     average costs of retrofits, demographic information for 
     participants in the program, and estimate avoidance in 
     disaster impacts and Federal disaster payments as a result of 
     the grant investments; and
       (3) any identified implementation challenges and 
     recommendations for improvements to the pilot program.
       (e) Residential Resilient Retrofits Defined.--
       (1) In general.--In this section, the term ``residential 
     resilient retrofits'' means a project that--
       (A) is designed to increase the resilience of an existing 
     home or residence using mitigation measures which the 
     administrator determines reduce damage and impacts from 
     natural disaster hazards and risks that are most likely to 
     occur in the area where the home is located; and
       (B) to the extent applicable, are consistent with the 2 
     most recently published editions of relevant consensus-based 
     codes, specifications, and standards, including any 
     amendments made by State, local, tribal, or territorial 
     governments to such codes, specifications, and standards that 
     incorporate the latest hazard-resistant designs and establish 
     criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of 
     residential structures and facilities that may be eligible 
     for assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
     and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.) for the 
     purpose of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare 
     of the buildings' users against disasters.
       (2) Inclusion.--In this section, the term ``residential 
     resilient retrofits'' includes--
       (A) elevations of homes and elevations of utilities within 
     and around structures to mitigate damages;
       (B) floodproofing measures;
       (C) the construction of tornado safe rooms;
       (D) seismic retrofits;
       (E) wildfire retrofit and mitigation measures;
       (F) wind retrofits, including roof replacements, hurricane 
     straps, and tie-downs; and
       (G) any other measures that meet the requirements of 
     paragraph (1), as determined by the Administrator.

     SEC. 7. BUY AMERICA FOR NONEMERGENCY PROJECTS.

       (a) In General.--For the purposes of this rulemaking, to 
     ensure that the United States has the productive capability 
     to respond quickly to emergencies and natural disasters with 
     a strong domestic industrial base being in the public 
     interest, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency 
     Management Agency shall require, as a condition of any 
     financial assistance provided by the Agency on a nonemergency 
     basis after promulgation of regulations pursuant to 
     subsection (c) for a construction project with a cost of at 
     least $1,000,000, that the steel and iron used in the project 
     be produced in the United States.
       (b) Waiver.--
       (1) In general.--The Administrator may provide a waiver of 
     the requirements in subsection (a) if the Administrator 
     finds--
       (A) that the application of such subsection would be 
     inconsistent with the public interest, including causing 
     unreasonable project delays;
       (B) that such steel and iron are not produced in the United 
     States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and 
     of a satisfactory quality; or
       (C) that inclusion of domestic material will increase the 
     cost of the overall project contract by more than 25 percent.
       (2) Public input.--If the Administrator receives a request 
     for a waiver under this subsection, the Administrator shall 
     make available to the public, on an informal basis, a copy of 
     the request and information available to the Administrator 
     concerning the request, and shall allow for informal public 
     input on the request for at least 15 days prior to making a 
     finding based on the request.
       (3) Publication of request.--The Administrator shall make 
     the request and accompanying information available by 
     electronic means, including on the official public website of 
     the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
       (c) Rulemaking.--Not later than 18 months after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the President, acting through the 
     Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 
     shall conduct and complete a rulemaking to establish what 
     considerations shall be used by the Administrator to assess 
     whether a waiver request made pursuant to subsection 
     (b)(1)(A) is in the public interest. Such criteria shall 
     include both a calculation considering domestically produced 
     steel and iron and a calculation with non-domestically 
     produced steel and iron for construction projects which 
     require a Benefit-Cost Analysis in order to qualify for 
     financial assistance.
       (d) Adjustment.--The amount in subsection (a) shall be 
     adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price 
     Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Department of 
     Labor.

     SEC. 8. REIMBURSEMENT OF INTEREST PAYMENTS RELATED TO PUBLIC 
                   ASSISTANCE.

       (a) In General.--Title IV of the Robert T. Stafford 
     Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170 
     et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

     ``SEC. 431. REIMBURSEMENT OF INTEREST PAYMENTS RELATED TO 
                   PUBLIC ASSISTANCE.

       ``(a) In General.--For purposes of assistance under this 
     title, the President shall provide financial assistance at 
     the applicable Federal share to a State or local government, 
     electric cooperative, or nonprofit organization as 
     reimbursement for qualifying interest.
       ``(b) Definitions.--In this section, the following 
     definitions apply:

[[Page H4172]]

       ``(1) Qualifying interest.--The term `qualifying interest' 
     means, with respect to a qualifying loan, the lesser of--
       ``(A) the actual interest paid to a lender for such 
     qualifying loan; and
       ``(B) the interest that would have been paid to a lender if 
     such qualifying loan had an interest rate equal to the prime 
     rate most recently published on the Federal Reserve 
     Statistical Release on selected interest rates.
       ``(2) Qualifying loan.--The term `qualifying loan' means a 
     loan--
       ``(A) obtained by a State or local government, electric 
     cooperative, or nonprofit organization; and
       ``(B) of which not less than 90 percent of the proceeds are 
     used to fund activities for which such State or local 
     government, electric cooperative, or nonprofit organization 
     receives assistance under this Act after the date on which 
     such loan is disbursed.''.
       (b) Rule of Applicability.--Any qualifying interest (as 
     such term is defined in section 431 of the Robert T. Stafford 
     Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as added by 
     this section) incurred by a State or local government, 
     electric cooperative, or nonprofit organization in the 5 
     years preceding the date of enactment of this Act shall be 
     treated as eligible for financial assistance for purposes of 
     such section 431.

     SEC. 9. FUNDING OF A FEDERALLY AUTHORIZED WATER RESOURCES 
                   DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.

       Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
     Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5133) is further amended 
     by adding at the end the following:
       ``(n) Funding of a Federally Authorized Water Resources 
     Development Project.--
       ``(1) In general.--Notwithstanding section 312 of the 
     Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 5155) and its implementing regulations, 
     assistance provided under this section may be used to fund 
     activities authorized for construction within the scope of a 
     federally authorized water resources development project of 
     the Army Corps of Engineers if such activities are also 
     eligible activities under this section.
       ``(2) Federal funding.--All Federal funding provided 
     pursuant to this section shall be applied toward the Federal 
     share of a federally authorized water resources development 
     project described in paragraph (1).
       ``(3) Non-federal match.--All non-Federal matching funds 
     required pursuant to this section shall be applied toward the 
     non-Federal share of a federally authorized water resources 
     development project described in paragraph (1).
       ``(4) Total federal share.--Funding provided pursuant to 
     this section may not exceed the total Federal share for a 
     federally authorized water resources development project 
     described in paragraph (1).
       ``(5) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this subsection may 
     be construed to affect--
       ``(A) the cost-share requirement of a hazard mitigation 
     measure under this section;
       ``(B) the eligibility criteria for a hazard mitigation 
     measure under this section;
       ``(C) the cost share requirements of a federally authorized 
     water resources development project described in paragraph 
     (1); and
       ``(D) the responsibilities of a non-Federal interest with 
     respect to such project, including those related to the 
     provision of lands, easements, rights-of-way, dredge material 
     disposal areas, and necessary relocations.
       ``(6) Limitation.--If a federally authorized water 
     resources development project of the Army Corps of Engineers 
     is constructed with funding provided under this subsection, 
     no further Federal funding shall be provided for construction 
     of such a project.''.

     SEC. 10. GAO REPORT TO CONGRESS ON CHALLENGES UNDER PUBLIC 
                   ASSISTANCE ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES.

       (a) In General.--The Comptroller General of the United 
     States shall conduct a study on the challenges to States and 
     Territories of the United States in obtaining assistance 
     under section 428 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief 
     and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5189f).
       (b) Contents.--In conducting the study described in 
     subsection (a), the Comptroller General shall study the 
     challenges for assistance described in subsection (a) faced 
     by the following:
       (1) Rural areas, as such term is defined in section 423 of 
     the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
     Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5189a).
       (2) Small impoverished communities, as such term is defined 
     in section 203 of such Act.
       (3) Other communities, areas, or individuals that the 
     Comptroller General determines pertinent.
       (c) Report to Congress.--Not later than 1 year after the 
     date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall 
     submit to Congress a report describing the results of the 
     study required under subsection (a).

     SEC. 11. APPLICABILITY.

       The amendments made by sections 2, 4(a), 8, and 9, and the 
     provisions under section 6, shall only apply to amounts 
     appropriated on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) and the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Graves) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oregon.


                             General Leave

  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on H.R. 5689, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Oregon?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5689, the Resilient AMERICA 
Act. This bill reflects a bipartisan agreement that will significantly 
enhance U.S. mitigation and resilience efforts.
  Federal policy that focuses on investment in mitigation and 
bolstering resilience is basic good governance and will lessen the 
impacts of future disasters. For years, studies have demonstrated that 
taxpayers save up to $11 for every single dollar invested in mitigation 
before a disaster strikes. There is no better investment.
  This legislation builds on existing mitigation efforts and will make 
our Nation more resilient.
  First, this legislation increases the amount of mitigation funding 
FEMA may make available to States through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation 
program, also known as BRIC, and makes nonprofits eligible recipients 
of these funds.
  Second, it expands the kind of projects eligible for mitigation 
assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. This includes 
enhancing the resilience of utilities to risks from wildfire, which 
will be of great benefit in the Western States.
  Third, this legislation sets aside funds for the implementation and 
enforcement of the latest building codes and standards. Building codes 
make our buildings safer and more resilient. Proper building codes that 
account for climate change can mean the difference between saving a 
family's home and a total loss during a disaster. I strongly support 
efforts to prepare buildings for actual hazard risks and climate change 
with updated codes.
  Lastly, this legislation creates a pilot program to fund resilience 
projects at private homes. Often, homeowners cannot implement 
recommended mitigation efforts, such as creating defensible space to 
protect against wildfires or removing overhanging branches to remove 
the risk of damage from severe storms, because they are too expensive.
  This pilot program will create the first Federal grant program that 
allows homeowners to proactively take mitigation into their own hands. 
I am confident that empowering individuals through this program will 
make families and their homes more resilient and, again, in the end, 
save taxpayers money.
  Representing a district that was impacted by catastrophic wildfires, 
particularly in 2020, has made me painfully aware of the importance of 
the provisions within this legislation. I wish that this bill and the 
mitigation investments it authorizes could have been enacted prior to 
the 2020 fires. It may have saved some of my constituents from the 
trauma of losing their homes.
  I thank Ranking Member Graves, as well as Subcommittee on Economic 
Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Chair Titus and 
Ranking Member Webster for their support and for working with us on 
this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues on both sides to join us and 
support the Resilient AMERICA Act, and I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. GRAVES of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to cosponsor H.R. 5689, the Resilient 
AMERICA Act, along with Chairman DeFazio and Subcommittee on Economic 
Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Chair Titus and 
Ranking Member Webster. This bill is going to strengthen our support 
for communities and individuals in mitigating disasters.
  We know that for every dollar invested upfront in mitigation, $4 to 
$11 are saved in damages from a disaster. Given that, one way we lower 
costs of future disasters is by investing upfront in mitigation.
  This bill builds on the bipartisan work that we did on mitigation in 
the

[[Page H4173]]

Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018. It ensures mitigation funds are 
spent and targeted in ways to support efforts by communities and 
homeowners to save lives and reduce damage.
  In my district, my constituents regularly experience flooding that 
not only causes damage to homes and businesses but disrupts lives and 
displaces people. Sadly, the time it takes to recover and receive 
assistance is far too long.
  I am glad to see more being done to make commonsense investments on 
the front end through mitigation projects, which will save taxpayers 
money. More importantly, it can help save lives.
  This bill also has the support of several groups, including the 
National Association of Home Builders.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a letter of support from the 
National Association of Home Builders.

         National Association of Home Builders, Government 
           Affairs,
                                    Washington, DC, April 5, 2022.
     Hon. Peter DeFazio,
     Chairman, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 
         House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Sam Graves,
     Ranking Member, House Transportation & Infrastructure 
         Committee, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves: On behalf 
     of the more than 140,000 members of the National Association 
     of Home Builders (NAHB), I write in support of H.R. 5689, the 
     Resilient AMERICA Act. The resilience and pre-disaster 
     mitigation initiatives contained in this bipartisan bill 
     would provide a comprehensive and preemptive approach to 
     reducing the risks of natural disasters while preserving 
     important flexibilities at the state and local levels.
       NAHB supports a comprehensive approach to addressing 
     natural disasters through initiatives focused on implementing 
     cost-effective solutions that encourage greater resiliency in 
     the nation's housing stock--while preserving housing 
     affordability. The Resilient AMERICA Act would invest in 
     common-sense mitigation activities, with an emphasis on 
     residential retrofits for improving resiliency in older 
     homes. Expanding mitigation opportunities and creating 
     incentives to facilitate upgrades and improvements to older 
     homes and structures would help to reduce risks and minimize 
     losses from future catastrophes.
       NAHB also supports the incorporation of language that 
     respects state and local jurisdictions' control over building 
     code adoption by providing flexibility to adopt one of the 
     two latest published codes. In addition, the bill includes a 
     provision that would provide consistency in how FEMA 
     evaluates which code a jurisdiction has adopted. This 
     language will provide the flexibility needed for communities 
     to take positive steps to withstand and recover from extreme 
     events.
       We urge the passage of H.R. 5689 to make American 
     communities more resilient while also protecting important 
     building code flexibilities at the state and local levels.
       Thank you for considering our views.
           Sincerely,
                                               James W. Tobin III,
                        Executive Vice President & Chief Lobbyist.

  Mr. GRAVES of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman DeFazio for 
working with us on this bill as we have all seen the effects of 
disaster in our districts and across America.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of this bipartisan legislation, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record two letters of 
support for H.R. 5689, one from the Build Strong Coalition and one from 
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


                                         Buildstong Coalition,

                                    Washington, DC, March 1, 2022.
     Hon. Nancy Pelosi,
     Speaker, House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Kevin McCarthy,
     Minority Leader, House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Dina Titus,
     Subcommittee Chair, House T&I Committee,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Daniel Webster,
     Subcommittee Ranking Member,
     House T&I Committee, Washington, DC.
       Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy: The BuildStrong 
     Coalition writes to express our strong support for H.R. 5689, 
     the Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally 
     Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans 
     (AMERICA) Act, which was passed out of the Committee on 
     Transportation and Infrastructure on October 27, 2021, with 
     almost unanimous backing. The undersigned organizations, as 
     part of the BuildStrong Coalition, urge you to schedule 
     consideration of the bipartisan legislation on the House 
     floor as soon as possible.
       This legislation builds on the resilience initiatives 
     contained in the bipartisan infrastructure package and 
     provides additional tools for families, businesses, and 
     communities to reduce climate risks ahead of the next crisis. 
     As our nation's disaster profile becomes increasingly 
     volatile and the instances of severe climate events grow, it 
     is critical that Congress act on this issue.
       Important mitigation measures like those included in the 
     Resilient AMERICA Act save lives, property, and taxpayer 
     money, and are crucial for reducing environmental disaster 
     impacts. Multiple studies have demonstrated that for every $1 
     spent on preventative pre-disaster mitigation and resilient 
     construction, there is a return of as much as $11 in savings. 
     Such policies are good for the environment and the economy.
       This comprehensive bill contains a host of provisions 
     designed to create a significant number of new resources for 
     communities to better protect themselves ahead of natural 
     catastrophes. This includes policies that would increase 
     funding for the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster 
     Mitigation fund (commonly known as Building Resilient 
     Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, Program) created by 
     the Disaster Recovery Reform Act to provide grants to local 
     governments for risk-reducing mitigation projects that make 
     homes and infrastructure more resilient in advance of severe 
     climate events, as well as those that would harden 
     communities by creating new resources and incentives for 
     states and localities to adopt and enforce modern 
     constructions standards and building codes. Importantly, the 
     bill will also establish a new pilot program under the 
     Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide resources to 
     communities and homeowners for the purpose of retrofitting 
     existing homes and buildings.
       The BuildStrong Coalition, formed in 2011 to respond to an 
     increasing number of severe disasters, is made up of a 
     diverse group of members representing firefighters, emergency 
     responders, emergency managers, insurers, engineers, 
     architects, contractors, and manufacturers, as well as 
     consumer organizations, code specialists, and many others 
     committed to building a more disaster resilient nation. The 
     BuildStrong Coalition has been a partner to Congress's work 
     to investigate causes of, and devise the solutions to, the 
     rising costs and impacts of disasters in the United States.
       Our organization represents the broad, bipartisan, public-
     private, and nonprofit stakeholder support for H.R. 5689. 
     Therefore, the BuildStrong Coalition and its allied partners 
     again ask that it be brought to House floor for consideration 
     under suspension of the rules. We look forward to working 
     with you and are prepared to offer our institutional 
     expertise throughout the process.
           Sincerely,
                                        Natalie F. Enclade, Ph.D.,
     Executive Director, BuildStrong Coalition.
                                  ____

                                                December 22, 2021.
     Hon. Nancy Pelosi,
     Speaker, House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Kevin McCarthy,
     Republican Leader, House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy: The undersigned 
     organizations support H.R. 5689, the ``Resilient Assistance 
     for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure 
     and Construction by Americans Act'' or ``Resilient AMERICA 
     Act,'' and urge you to schedule consideration of this 
     legislation, perhaps under suspension of the rules. This 
     legislation, which was reported from the Committee on 
     Transportation and Infrastructure with strong bipartisan 
     support, would build on the resilience initiatives contained 
     in the recent bipartisan infrastructure law and provide 
     additional tools to reduce risks posed by a changing climate.
       For every dollar invested in resilience and predisaster 
     mitigation, the taxpayer receives anywhere from $3.00 to 
     $11.00 in return. Such policies are good for the environment 
     and the economy. This bill would:
       Increase the annual spending for the new National Public 
     Infrastructure Predisaster Mitigation fund from up to 6% to 
     up to 15% of postdisaster funding.
       Require unspent funds to be recaptured for mitigation and 
     resilience projects.
       Extend eligibility for Building Resilient Infrastructure 
     and Communities (BRIC) program grant funding to private non-
     profit organizations.
       Provide a 10% set-aside within BRIC to enforce the adoption 
     of newer building codes.
       Add wildfires and tsunamis, including strengthening 
     utilities against wind, ice, and wildfire risks as eligible 
     hazards to receive funding.
       Establish a 10% set-aside within BRIC to fund residential 
     resilience retrofit grants--upgrades to strengthen homes 
     resilience and comply with consensus-based codes and 
     standards, including wind and roof retrofits, floodproofing, 
     and constructing saferooms.
       We strongly support H.R. 5689 and urge that it be brought 
     to the House floor for expeditious consideration. We stand 
     ready to assist you in this process.
           Sincerely,
       American Council of Engineering Companies, American 
     Institute of Architect, American Planning Association, 
     American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of 
     Landscape Architects; Build Strong Coalition; City Parks 
     Alliance; Ecological Restoration Business Association; 
     Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative; National 
     Association of Clean Water Agencies; National Association of 
     Counties; National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; 
     National League of Cities; National Recreation and Park 
     Association; National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; 
     Rural Community Assistance Partnership; U.S. Chamber of 
     Commerce.


[[Page H4174]]


  

  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as she may consume to 
the gentlewoman from Nevada (Ms. Titus).
  Ms. TITUS. Mr. Speaker, I stand to add my voice to the bipartisan 
chorus of support for this bill, including the chairman of the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Mr. DeFazio; Ranking 
Member Graves; and the ranking member of my subcommittee, Mr. Webster, 
for leading on this bill and working so hard to bring relief to not 
only our communities but individuals who are hit by natural disasters 
and other calamities like we saw during COVID.
  Creating a Federal policy that supports projects focused on 
mitigating risks and bolstering resilience is good government. There is 
no two ways about it.

                              {time}  1330

  This legislation features a number of key provisions that will make 
our Nation more resilient:
  One, it increases State funding for predisaster mitigation. An ounce 
of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  It expands assistance for Western States, like Nevada, that are at 
the risk of wildfires, which we see coming more often, lasting longer, 
and being more intense.
  It also reserves funds to implement and enforce the latest building 
codes and standards so when we do build back, we build back better, not 
to the status quo ante.
  It empowers families to proactively take mitigation measures into 
their own hands, because they may know best what they need there at 
home.
  I strongly support this legislation. We must wake up to the realities 
of climate change and the increasing intensity and cost of the natural 
disasters that it causes. This legislation will help to make our Nation 
more resilient, and I ask my colleagues to support it.
  Mr. GRAVES of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Graves), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Aviation.
  Mr. GRAVES of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, today we spend an average of 
$100 billion a year responding to disasters; $100 billion. This is a 
number that we can't afford to continue responding, continue reacting 
to disasters.
  The National Institute of Building Sciences has done all sorts of 
analyses looking at the efficacy of making investments on the front 
end, Mr. Speaker, so we are not in a situation where, as in the 
chairman's case, we are having to go into Oregon, Washington, 
California, or other States out West, and pick up the pieces of these 
communities destroyed by forest fires; so we don't have to go into 
these communities that have been impacted by severe winter storms, 
communities living along rivers that have been inundated by floods, or 
communities on the southern coast, the Gulf Coast, or the East Coast 
that have been pummeled by hurricanes, such as our home State of 
Louisiana, with just in recent years, Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta, 
Ida; some of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the 
United States.
  The National Institute of Building Sciences has found that for every 
$1 you invest in natural mitigation solutions, you get up to $13 in 
savings. By adopting more resilient building standards, building codes, 
you get up to $11 in savings.
  Let me say it again, Mr. Speaker. We can't afford to keep doing this. 
$100 billion a year. As Ranking Member Graves noted a few minutes ago, 
back in 2018 we worked on a bipartisan basis to, actually, enact the 
BRIC program, to really take the PDM, the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant 
program, and put it on steroids. Based on the incredible popularity of 
the program, the progress that has been made, this legislation helps to 
advance it even further. By increasing the funds that are available 
and, most importantly, by eating into that $100 billion we are spending 
in taxpayer funds every year responding to disasters, reducing that 
cost, Mr. Speaker, and the most important thing is the actual impact on 
the ground.
  Those communities out West that are dealing with forest fires, 
helping to stop, prevent, and contain those forest fires.
  Those communities that are experiencing devastation from winter 
storms, helping to protect and make them more resilient.
  Communities that are getting repetitive floods, making sure those 
communities can withstand those floods, and those communities that we 
represent in south Louisiana that have had hurricane after hurricane 
that are truly challenging the existence, the livelihood of those 
communities, helping to make sure they can withstand these storms, and 
we can continue to live life and enjoy life in coastal communities like 
south Louisiana.
  Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman DeFazio and Chairwoman 
Titus, Ranking Member Graves, and Ranking Member Webster.
  We were able to include two amendments in here. Number one, we worked 
with Congressman Dunn on a very important amendment. Right now, FEMA 
takes so long to reimburse communities in the aftermath of a disaster, 
in many cases our parishes, our counties, and States have to take out 
loans, so there is an amendment added to this bill that mandates that 
FEMA pay the interest costs of the loan. If they are going to take 
forever to reimburse, they can at least cover the loan costs, the 
interest costs on the loan.
  The second one is a government efficiency provision. Right now, the 
Corps of Engineers has the most arduous process in the Federal 
Government for developing projects, including cost-to-benefit ratios, 
environmental analysis, and technical feasibility, yet under current 
law, Corps of Engineers' projects are prohibited from receiving funds 
under the BRIC program or PDM. This fixes it. If that is the best 
solution, if that is the greatest cost savings, if it is the best 
efficiency of the dollar, my goodness, we shouldn't be stopping it, we 
should be incentivizing it.
  I want to thank all the folks who worked together on this 
legislation. I look forward to enactment. I urge adoption of the bill.
  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I have no additional speakers, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GRAVES of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. LaMalfa).
  Mr. LaMALFA. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate Ranking Member Graves yielding 
me the time on this as well as the bipartisan effort with Chairman 
DeFazio and everybody on this important legislation.
  The Resilient AMERICA Act really, indeed, is like the old adage, a 
stitch in time saves nine. When you can spend dollars upfront 
mitigating, such as this bill moves to do, to make a larger pool of 
money available under FEMA to do so, it just saves a lot of extra pain 
and suffering.
  Mr. Garret Graves talked about the $100 billion year in, year out we 
are spending on disaster relief. It is good we do so, but we can nip a 
lot of this in the bud by applying this type of thinking toward all 
types of possible disasters.

  In my home district, you know, last year the Dixie fire, right at a 
million acres; the Camp fire before that hit the town of Paradise. You 
all heard about that in the news, 85 people lost their lives, destroyed 
90 percent of the town. Now, if we can get ahead of the curve on this, 
whatever is applicable for FEMA preassistance, prework, hardening power 
lines, having buildings that can be hardened with the right materials 
for their siding and for their roofs. The mitigation we need to be 
doing in forested areas, whatever is applicable, the more we can do, 
the better off we are.
  We are also looking at flood situations. I have that, too, with the 
Sacramento River and Feather River in my area, as well as lesser areas, 
too, in size. Instead of fixing a levee on New Year's Eve in the middle 
of the night on soggy levees, doing that work ahead of time, upgrading 
them makes it safer for the workers, safer for the community, and is 
much less expensive.
  This is, indeed, a great success for us in this time, and there is 
sometimes difficulty here in Congress to have legislation like this 
with strong bipartisan support that can help everybody. I am proud of 
the work this committee has been able to do.
  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. GRAVES of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume to close.

[[Page H4175]]

  Mr. Speaker, in closing, the Resilient AMERICA Act does support the 
communities by investing in premitigation efforts, and these efforts 
are going to save lives. It is going to save taxpayer dollars by 
lowering costs of future disasters. It is going to do so many things.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of this important piece of legislation. I 
again want to thank the chairman for working with us on this. I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume 
to close.
  We have just heard very telling testimony from the gentleman from 
Louisiana (Mr. Graves) about the issues with the frequent problems they 
have had with hurricanes down there, and then the gentleman from 
California (Mr. LaMalfa) talking about wildfires, which have become 
more and more intense and widespread and persistent in the West.
  On both sides of the aisle, I think almost any Member who has had a 
disaster, a natural disaster in their district, can attest to the fact 
that if his or her community had been better prepared, if they had 
taken steps toward resilience, if the Federal Government had given them 
that guidance and perhaps some funding incentives to put in place those 
mitigation measures, that lives would have been saved, property would 
have been saved, and ultimately the Federal taxpayers would save a lot 
of money.
  This legislation has tremendous merit, and I urge my colleagues to 
support it unanimously; although, of course, we will have someone on 
that side of the aisle who will call for a vote even though they might 
even vote for it. Hopefully, the Senate, in its total dysfunction, will 
look favorably upon this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 5689, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 
8, the yeas and nays are ordered.
  Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further proceedings on this motion 
are postponed.

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