Today, the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation approved a Committee Print of the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011, a draft authored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). The Committee Print would reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). The draft supports the development of hazard reduction measures, and the creation of disaster-resilient communities.
Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) said, "As we have tragically witnessed this year, earthquakes and windstorms take lives, destroy homes and businesses, and cause billions of dollars in damage in the United States and around the world. The effects of these disasters can reverberate for decades." Praising the NEHRP and NWIRP programs, Quayle said "Both programs are targeted federal research and development efforts to mitigate the loss of life and property due to wind and earthquake related hazards."
A bipartisan Manager's Amendment offered by Rep. Biggert was unanimously approved, making a number of improvements to the underlying draft legislation and ensuring that activities are coordinated rather than duplicated between the two programs. Biggert noted that the Committee Print attempts "to make certain that these agencies continue to conduct the important research and development necessary to ensure that our communities are as prepared as possible for natural disasters, while being mindful of the current budget situation and the federal deficit."
Subcommittee Republicans defeated an amendment offered by the minority that would authorize the programs for five years instead of three, and significantly increase the cost of the legislation by a total of $618 million more than the Committee Print. The amendment was defeated along a party-line vote of 10-3.