The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation approved a “committee-draft” of legislation to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. As a “committee-draft” the bill has not been officially introduced or received a bill number. The measure now moves to the full Committee for consideration.
ASCE has worked closely with Congressional staff on this issue for many years and leads coalitions in support of both programs. The authorizations for each of the two programs expired in 2009. The Committee bill, sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), would significantly cut authorized funding for NEHRP. The last reauthorization for NEHRP authorized $191.8 million in FY 2009. The new bill would authorize the program for three years at $121.9 million per year. While this represents a significant reduction in authorization, it is close to the program’s actual appropriated budget of $126.6 million in FY 2011. While disappointed in the authorization numbers, ASCE has concluded that it is critical that the program be reauthorized as soon as possible as it runs the risk of losing all funding. The authorization for the Wind Program stays steady at $21.4 million over the three years.
Earlier this year, the Senate Commerce Committee approved its version of NEHRP/Wind reauthorization. The Senate bill, S. 646, authorizes NEHRP for five years at from $171.3 million the first year, to $190.7 million in the final year. The Wind Program is authorized at $25.5 million the first year, increasing to $28.8 by the final year.
ASCE will continue to work with Congress to move the legislation in both Houses. Hopefully, the final outcome will move the numbers closer to the Senate bill.
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