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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), and John Kennedy (R-LA) that would better meet the needs of disaster survivors has advanced in the Senate. This legislation would repeal an outdated section of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) in order to streamline support for disaster survivors after an emergency and enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to more effectively respond to emergencies. Currently, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) limits the duration of non-competitive emergency contracts for DHS, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while other agencies follow more recently updated changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). This bill would repeal the section restricting DHS, which would make the distribution of disaster aid to communities in need more efficient. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“The federal government should have every tool available in order to help survivors of disasters get back on their feet,” said Senator Peters, “This bipartisan bill will help DHS respond to emergencies and natural disasters quickly and more effectively.”

“I’m glad to see that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed our common-sense solution to help the private sector and DHS work better together to respond to emergencies. I look forward to the Senate sending this critical bill to the House so that Louisianians and all Americans get the help they need when disaster strikes,” said Senator Kennedy. 

“The National Emergency Management Association applauds the leadership of Senators Peters and Kennedy in simplifying DHS contracting requirements through S. 3648, the Helping Eliminate Limitations for Prompt Response and Recovery Act. This bill will modernize contracting requirements for DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and align them with the less restrictive requirements applied to all other government agencies. Especially when responding to disasters, speed is of the essence, so it is imperative to give FEMA the tools necessary to be efficient and responsive when needed most,” said Russ Strickland, NEMA President and Secretary of Maryland Department of Emergency Management.

“The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) applauds Chairman Peters and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for working to simplify the disaster assistance process and for eliminating duplicative statutes.  The Helping Eliminate Limitations for Prompt Response and Recovery Act (S.3648) will repeal an outdated section of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act that slows down recovery efforts.  If enacted, the bill will streamline contracting requirements by coordinating those requirements with the deadlines other government agencies already follow,” said Justin Kates, President, International Association of Emergency Managers.

The current DHS contracting requirements, though well-intentioned at the time of implementation, have proven to be outdated and cumbersome. Your proposed legislation to repeal these requirements demonstrates a commitment to fostering a more agile and effective system for securing our nation. Your leadership with this change would provide greater clarity to stakeholders who are responsible for managing our nation’s federal disaster response and ensure consistent contract requirements across the government enterprise,” said Peter Gaynor, Chairman, Disaster Recovery Coalition of America.

Section 695 of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) has become outdated because of more recent Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) changes that apply government wide. Section 695 restricts the length of non-competitive DHS contracts for urgent and compelling requirements to 150 days. However, the FAR now limits these non-competitive contracts to one year, based on section 862 of the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, rendering Section 695 obsolete.

The bipartisan Helping Eliminate Limitations for Prompt Response and Recovery Act would clean up inconsistent requirements by repealing Section 695, which applies only to DHS, and would improve the department’s ability to respond to emergencies. Once the bill is enacted, DHS would follow current government-wide rules in the FAR on length of emergency response and recovery contracts. The purpose of the FAR is to have consistency in government contracting, while maintaining integrity in the process and ensuring timely delivery of best value products and services to agencies and the public.