[House Report 109-364]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    109-364

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                    GULF COAST RECOVERY ACT OF 2005

                                _______
                                

 December 22, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

     Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Transportation and 
                Infrastructure, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 4438]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 4438) to establish special rules 
with respect to certain disaster assistance provided for 
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend 
that the bill do pass.

                       Purpose of the Legislation

    The purpose of H.R. 4438 is to establish special rules with 
respect to certain disaster assistance provided for Hurricanes 
Katrina and Rita to ensure an effective and expeditious 
recovery of the Gulf region.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    On August 23rd, the National Weather Service began tracking 
a tropical depression centered in the Southeastern Bahamas. On 
August 24th, Tropical Depression #12 became Tropical Storm 
Katrina, with sustained winds above 40 miles per hour (mph). 
Hurricane strength of Category 1 was achieved on August 25th as 
Hurricane Katrina (Katrina) sustained winds over 75 mph.
    Once the storm reached the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane 
Katrina intensified and sped up, achieving Category 3 status 
(sustained wind speeds exceeding 111 mph) on August 26th. On 
August 28th, one day before landfall on the Gulf Coast, Katrina 
became a Category 5 hurricane, with wind speeds in excess of 
150 mph. As the storm moved into shallower waters closer to 
land, wind speeds decreased and Katrina was downgraded to a 
Category 4 hurricane.
    Katrina eventually made landfall in Southeastern Louisiana 
with sustained winds over 140 mph at the eye of the storm, and 
wind gusts over 100 mph in the city of New Orleans, just west 
of the eye of the storm. Katrina also resulted in rainfall 
exceeding 8-10 inches over much of the storm's path. Direct 
storm damage was felt in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, 
Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee, though Louisiana and 
Mississippi received the brunt of the storm.
    When Hurricane Katrina finally dissipated over Tennessee, 
it left in its wake catastrophic devastation. Covering an area 
estimated to be near 90,000 square miles, the storm ravaged 
four states, caused damage in surrounding states, and impacted 
the entire country.
    While neither the most powerful, nor most deadly storm to 
hit the United States, its combined wind speed, storm surge, 
flooding effect, and deadliness make it one of the worst 
natural disasters in American history. The impact of Katrina on 
human life was immense. The storm caused the deaths of over 
1,300 people, the overwhelming majority of whom were in 
Louisiana and Mississippi, with known deaths also in Florida, 
Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
    Katrina caused flooding in 6 states, mostly from storm 
surge and the high rate of rainfall. However, in Louisiana, the 
worst flooding was in the New Orleans area, caused by the 
breaching of a number of levees. At least 80 percent of the 
City of New Orleans was at some point underwater, though the 
flooding ranged from as little as one or two feet in areas such 
as the French Quarter to over 20feet in the Lower Ninth Ward. 
Portions of Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama were underwater as a result 
of a 20 to 30-foot storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay. 
While just three weeks after Katrina, many of the breaks in the levees 
surrounding New Orleans had been repaired and much of the city had been 
drained, several of the temporary repairs were damaged or destroyed by 
Hurricane Rita, again causing flooding in New Orleans.
    The economic impact from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane 
Rita on the Gulf region has been substantial. Flooding and 
storm surge damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, leaving 
many people homeless. Additionally, the disaster displaced 
thousands of employers, leaving a significant number of people 
unemployed. With the displacement of hundreds of thousands of 
people, many parishes, counties, cities, and towns have lost 
their resident tax base, including property and sales taxes, 
which are typically the primary source of revenue for local 
governments. While some state and local governments had 
maintained emergency reserves, these funds have largely been 
depleted, forcing widespread layoffs of municipal employees.
    A successful recovery requires the provision of essential 
governmental services. For most governments in the affected 
region, this will mean the need for more manpower than has 
existed since the storm and in some circumstances, more than 
what existed prior to the storm. With depleted reserve 
resources and limited tax revenue, local governments are 
struggling to provide the level of governmental services 
required to recover from the hurricanes.

                 Section-by-Section of the Legislation

    Section 1. This section provides that the short title for 
the legislation is the Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2005.
    Section 2. Section 2 authorizes the president to provide 
federal assistance under Sections 402 and 403 of the Robert T. 
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 
U.S.C. 5170a; 5170b) (Stafford Act) to eligible state and local 
governments for base and overtime pay for essential recovery 
personnel.
    Eligibility is determined by a showing of loss exceeding 25 
percent of annual operating revenue of the state or local 
government, no later than June 30, 2006. To determine 
eligibility, FEMA must look at the most recent full fiscal year 
prior to the date of the disaster declarations made for 
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita on or after August 29, 
2005. Losses attributable to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 
through June 30, 2006 must equal or exceed 25 percent of that 
prior full fiscal year's operating revenue.
    After eligibility is determined, reimbursement may be made 
for base pay and overtime expenses incurred from January 1, 
2006, through June 30, 2006. Assistance is provided on a 75/25 
Federal/non-Federal basis. This section is not intended to 
alter the cost share for expenses, including overtime expenses, 
otherwise eligible for reimbursement under the Stafford Act.
    Under this section, state and local governments are 
eligible for assistance in providing fire, law enforcement, 
emergency medical, public works, emergency management, 
planning, and building code services. State and local 
governments may provide these services directly, or by contract 
or mutual aid agreement. It is the Committee's expectation that 
``building code services'' includes staff involved in the 
permitting and the inspection process, including the 
enforcement of a building code, regulation, or ordinance 
pertaining to construction, development, or floodplain 
management.
    Section 3. This section amends Section 2(a) of Public law 
109-88, the Community Disaster Loan Act of 2005 to raise the 
cap on Community Disaster Loans from 25 percent to 50 percent 
of the operating budget of the applicant. This provision will 
allow some local communities to borrow additional funds to 
support basic government activities.
    Section 4. This section sets the federal assistance for 
debris removal at 100 percent for disaster declarations made 
for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on or after August 29, 2005, to 
eliminate the current disincentive for local governments to 
utilize cost-effective, pre-existing debris removal contracts.
    The two hurricanes caused significant amounts of debris 
across the region, including downed trees, damaged cars, and 
construction materials. Under the Stafford Act, debris removal 
assistance may be provided for all public property and some 
private property in areas designated by the disaster 
declaration. Following the disaster declarations, the president 
authorized 100 percent federal assistance for debris removal 
for the first 30 days, followed by a series of extensions. The 
level of assistance is uncertain for future federal debris 
removal beyond the current extensions.
    Local governments have three options for the removal of 
debris following a disaster declaration; remove the debris 
using their own resources, contract for removal with the 
private sector, or contract with the U.S. Army Corp of 
Engineers (USACE) for debris removal. FEMA reimburses the local 
government at the designated rate regardless of who carries out 
the work.
    However, the federal cost share may vary depending upon who 
conducts the work. For example, when the work is performed by 
the local government or by private contractors, the federal 
cost share is determined at the time the cost is incurred. This 
means the local cost share may increase if the president 
reduces the federal share at a later point in the disaster. In 
contrast, if the work is carriedout by the USACE, the federal 
share is determined at the time the contract is signed. This policy 
creates a strong incentive for local governments to contract with the 
USACE early in the disaster when the federal share is set at 100 
percent to guarantee their cost share.
    Given the potential for the president to lower the federal 
share from 100 percent to 75 percent, local governments have a 
strong financial incentive to contract with the USACE even if 
the Corps' price is substantially higher than their local 
contractors. Due to this loophole in FEMA policy, local 
governments are canceling cost-effective, pre-existing 
contracts with private contractors and contracting with the 
USACE to guarantee the 100 percent federal assistance. As a 
result, local and private contractor involvement is limited, 
increasing the total cost to the federal government.
    This section requires a 100 percent cost share for the life 
of the disaster, which will allow local governments to choose 
the most cost-effective means of debris removal, regardless of 
who provides the work.
    Section 5. Section 5 modifies the federal share for the 
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) with respect to disaster 
declarations for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made on or after 
August 29, 2005. The federal cost share for HMGP projects is 
set at a minimum of 75 percent for those measures approved 
within a one-year period from the date of enactment. This 
provision provides the president with the discretion to adjust 
the federal share up to 100 percent, but prohibits the federal 
cost share from falling below 75 percent. It is the Committee's 
expectation that the president will utilize this authority to 
waive the state and local cost share requirements to ensure 
that, to the greatest extent practicable, cost-effective 
mitigation projects are incorporated into the initial 
rebuilding of Gulf Coast communities.
    This section also urges the president to assist the state 
and local governments in the HMGP program, from initial 
planning stages through final project approval, and expedite 
the process.
    Additionally, Section 5(b) amends Section 404(a) of the 
Stafford Act to restore the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program 
percentage from 7.5 percent to its historic level of 15 
percent. This provision was included in H.R. 3181 and was 
approved by the House of Representatives during the 108th 
Congress.
    The Committee encourages FEMA to include ``demolition and 
rebuild'' among mitigation activities eligible under the 
mitigation grant programs authorized by the Stafford Act, 
particularly with respect to assistance provided pursuant to 
disaster declarations made for Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane 
Rita on or after August 29, 2005. Demolition and rebuild should 
be an eligible activity only when it is necessary to meet a 
community's overall goals, when it encourages safe and livable 
housing, and when it is determined to be feasible and cost-
effective. The Committee expects FEMA to provide guidance to 
the field within 90 days of enactment for ``demolition and 
rebuild'' project implementation. The Committee recognizes that 
some flood hazard areas, such as floodways, pose significant 
risks to residential structures and expects the guidance to 
avoid use of ``demolish and rebuild'' in such high risk areas.
    U.S. 90 in Mississippi was severely damaged by Hurricane 
Katrina. The St. Louis Bay and Biloxi Bay bridges of U.S. 90 
were destroyed by the hurricane. U.S. 90 is a Federal-aid 
highway eligible for Emergency Relief (ER) funding under 
section 125 of Title 23, United States Code. Under the 
Emergency Relief program, where a temporary structure or an 
alternate existing route is not reasonable or practical as a 
temporary connection, construction of a temporary ferry service 
(ferryboat, ferry operation and maintenance, docking and 
loading facilities) is eligible for ER funds. ER participation 
in the ferryboat is limited to acquisition costs, less resale 
value, or to a reasonable rental fee. Emergency Relief Manual 
(August 2003), Chapter 2, section (B)(2). The Committee 
understands that Mississippi may need to use Emergency Relief 
funds to institute a temporary ferry service until the 
destroyed U.S. 90 bridges are replaced. The Committee strongly 
supports the use of ER funds to institute such a ferry service.
    Section 6. This section extends the Disaster Unemployment 
Assistance (``DUA'') Program with respect to disaster 
declarations for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita made on 
or after August 29, 2005, to 52 weeks after the date of the 
disaster declaration. The section also sets the minimum level 
of assistance for individuals at not less than 50 percent of 
the national average of weekly unemployment benefits.
    Section 7. This section amends the Stafford Act by adding 
Section 630. Section 630 creates an emergency equipment grant 
program under the direction of the Director of the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to improve response 
capabilities of states and local governments in the event of a 
major disaster or other emergency. The grant program is 
intended to provide grants to state and local governments for 
the purchase or improvement of emergency communications systems 
to facilitate interoperability and better coordination between 
emergency communication systems, including satellite phones and 
satellite communication equipment. Grants through this program 
are also available to purchase mobile equipment to generate 
emergency power and train first responders and emergency 
personnel on the communication and mobile power equipment. 
Technical assistance related to the procurement, installation 
and use of this equipment is also allowable as needed by the 
state and local governments. The program is authorized to be 
appropriated $200,000,000 for fiscal years 2006, 2007, and 
2008.

            Legislative History and Committee Consideration

    The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, 
and Emergency Management held a series of hearings in 
connection with Hurricane Katrina. These hearings focused on 
the many different aspects of the response and recovery of the 
Gulf region. On October 6, 2005, the Subcommittee held an 
oversight hearing to examine FEMA's ability to manage a 
successful recovery of the region. On October 18, the 
Subcommittee held a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on 
Water Resources and Environment on options for and the 
feasibility of rebuilding New Orleans. On November 3, the 
Subcommittee held a hearing to consider legislative proposals 
relating to Hurricane Katrina recovery operations.
    On December 6, 2005, Mr. Shuster, Ms. Norton, Mr. Young of 
Alaska, and Mr. Oberstar introduced H.R. 4438, which was 
referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 
On December 7, 2005, the Full Committee met in open session to 
consider H.R. 4438. A motion by Mr. Shuster to order H.R. 4438 
favorably reported to the House was agreed to by the Full 
Committee by voice vote with a quorum present. There were no 
recorded votes taken during Committee consideration of H.R. 
4438.

                             Rollcall Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the House of Representatives 
requires each committee report to include the total number of 
votes cast for and against on each rollcall 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 rollcall votes taken in connection with ordering H.R. 
4438 favorably reported to the House.

                      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.

                          Cost of Legislation

    Clause 3(d)(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 not been received. The Congressional Budget Office has 
informed the Committee that it expects H.R. 4438 will result in 
an increase in direct spending by $465,000,000 for the fiscal 
year 2006. Spending will decrease by a total of $465,000,000 
over the three year period of 2013, 2014, and 2015, producing 
no net increase in funding over the next ten years.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(2) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee 
references the report of the Congressional Budget Office 
included below.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
performance goals and objective of this legislation are to 
provide a successful, safe, efficient, and timely recovery for 
the Gulf Region.
    3. 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 expects H.R. 4438 will result in an increase in 
direct spending by $465,000,000 for the fiscal year 2006. 
Spending will decrease by a total of $465,000,000 over the 
three year period of 2013, 2014, and 2015, producing no net 
increase in funding over the next ten years.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause (3)(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, committee reports on a bill or 
joint resolution of a public character shall include a 
statement citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in 
the Constitution to enact the measure. The Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure finds that Congress has the 
authority to enact this measure pursuant to its powers granted 
under article I, section 8 of the Constitution.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
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. 4438 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 to the Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act. (Public Law 
104-1).

         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, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

          SECTION 2 OF THE COMMUNITY DISASTER LOAN ACT OF 2005


SEC. 2. DISASTER LOANS.

  (a) Essential Services.--Of the amounts provided in Public 
Law 109-62 for ``Disaster Relief'', up to $750,000,000 may be 
transferred to the Disaster Assistance Direct Loan Program for 
the cost of direct loans as authorized under section 417 of the 
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
(42 U.S.C. 5184) to be used to assist local governments in 
providing essential services: Provided, That such transfer may 
be made to subsidize gross obligations for the principal amount 
of direct loans not to exceed $1,000,000,000 under section 417 
of the Stafford Act: Provided further, That notwithstanding 
section 417(b) of the Stafford Act, the amount of any such loan 
issued pursuant to this section may exceed $5,000,000: Provided 
further, That notwithstanding section 417(c)(1) of the Stafford 
Act, such loans may not be canceled: Provided further, That the 
cost of modifying such loans shall be as defined in section 502 
of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 661a): 
Provided further, That notwithstanding section 417(b) of the 
Stafford Act such a loan may not exceed 50 percent of the 
operating budget of the local government to which the loan is 
made for the fiscal year in which the disaster occurs.

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ROBERT T. STAFFORD DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ACT

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TITLE IV--MAJOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

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SEC. 404. HAZARD MITIGATION.

  (a) In General.--The President may contribute up to 75 
percent of the cost of hazard mitigation measures which the 
President has determined are cost-effective and which 
substantially reduce the risk of future damage, hardship, loss, 
or suffering in any area affected by a major disaster. Such 
measures shall be identified following the evaluation of 
natural hazards under section 322 and shall be subject to 
approval by the President. Subject to section 322, the total of 
contributions under this section for a major disaster shall not 
exceed [7.5] 15 percent of the estimated aggregate amount of 
grants to be made (less any associated administrative costs) 
under this Act with respect to the major disaster.

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TITLE VI--EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

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Subtitle B--General Provisions

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SEC. 630. EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT ASSISTANCE.

  (a) Grants.--The Director shall carry out a program to make 
grants to States and local governments--
          (1) to purchase or improve commercially available 
        interoperable communications equipment that--
                  (A) complies with, where applicable, national 
                voluntary consensus standards;
                  (B) facilitates interoperability, 
                coordination, and integration between and among 
                emergency communications systems (including 
                satellite phone and satellite communications 
                equipment); and
                  (C) ensures that first responders, government 
                officials, and emergency personnel are able to 
                adequately and effectively communicate with 
                each other in the event of a major disaster or 
                other emergency;
          (2) to purchase mobile equipment to generate 
        emergency power; and
          (3) to train first responders and emergency personnel 
        on how best to use effectively such equipment.
  (b) Purpose.--The purpose of the program shall be to improve 
the response capabilities of States and local governments in 
the event of a major disaster or other emergency.
  (c) Applications.--A State or local government seeking a 
grant under this section shall submit an application to the 
Director at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such 
information as the Director may require.
  (d) Technical Assistance.--The Director shall provide to 
States and local governments technical assistance with respect 
to the procurement, installation, and use of equipment under 
subsection (a)(1).
  (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to 
be appropriated to carry out this section $200,000,000 for each 
of fiscal years 2006, 2007, and 2008.

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