House bill would authorize new FEMA grants and protect S&R teams

The Disaster Response, Recovery and Mitigation Enhancement Act of 2008 (HR 6658) would fund a number of grant activities, including modernization of emergency warning systems to make them multi-modal, establishment of a national network of standard search and rescue resources to augment urban response capabilities, extension of health benefits for temporary FEMA employees, and payment of mortgages and rent for victims of disasters, among other programs.

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) would receive $12 million under the bill to help states establish emergency management assistance compact (EMAC) agreements, which set up procedures for states providing assistance to each other during a disaster.

In total, these grants would cost $1.3 billion from fiscal 2009-2013 if enacted by Congress, CBO concluded.

In addition, the bill would provide protection for search and rescue team members who leave their jobs to assist with disaster response. It would compel employers to rehire the team members into their jobs once the disaster response was complete.

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