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Bipartisan Bill Would Create Independent Board to Investigate and Improve Disaster Response and Recovery

A bipartisan bill creating an independent board to oversee the country’s response to disasters has been introduced in both the House and Senate. The “Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act of 2020” would create the National Disaster Safety Board. The board would investigate disaster-caused losses of life and major property damage and release standardized reports and recommendations on how such things can be avoided in the future. The bill is sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the Senate and Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) and Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) in the House. The legislation has also been endorsed by national organizations – including NLIHC – working at the federal level to improve and reform the disaster recovery system.

The National Disaster Safety Board (NDSB) is modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that investigates plane crashes, major railroad accidents, and commercial highway accidents. The NDSB would focus on how best to improve disaster recovery systems to avoid future loss of life and major property damage, rather than working to assign specific blame for disaster failures. The legislation also ensures that reports and recommendations would be publicly available and tasks the board with providing technical assistance to jurisdictions attempting to implement them.

“With climate change causing more frequent and severe natural disasters, we need more data to make sure our communities are resilient and prepared to respond to the next crisis,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill creates a new independent board to investigate major natural disasters and gives policymakers and the public a full accounting of what happened and what should happen next.”

Low-income households commonly experience the worst effects of disasters while also receiving the least amount of assistance to recovery afterward. By attempting to find the underlying causes of such catastrophes and implementing improvements the NDSB would lessen the risk experienced by low income households during major disasters. 

 A fact sheet on the Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act of 2020 is at: https://bit.ly/2HqFaJN

The text of the bill is at: https://bit.ly/2HtSAV0