Victims' Rights Caucus



Madam Chairman, the amendment I am offering today seeks to add additional funding to the highly successful and widely supported National Predisaster Mitigation Fund. In a time of deficits and rampant government spending, predisaster mitigation is good for the taxpayer.

According to a study first released in 2005, the "National Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities,'' performed by the group called the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council, stated that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $3 to $4 is saved. Further, the Congressional Budget Office issued its own report on predisaster mitigation and its cost savings and confirmed the savings derived from this program.

According to these studies, this amendment that I'm offering could save anywhere from $96 million to $128 million in future disaster costs. In communities such as I represent along the gulf coast of Texas, predisaster mitigation is essential in weathering future devastating hurricanes which have ravaged my district in recent years in helping to reduce the cost towards recovery. Just since I've been elected, the following hurricanes have hit my southeast district in Texas: Katrina, Rita, Humbert, Gustav, and the latest is Ike.

Every year it seems, Madam Chairman, a new hurricane comes down Hurricane Alley through my congressional district, but also hits other gulf States. The purpose of this program is to implement hazard reduction measures prior to an event. Funds can be used to help retrofit buildings, such as the courthouse that is used as the Center for Emergency Management Services. Those retrofitting buildings can withstand high wind damage. Also it moves properties out of flood plains, and flood-proof buildings, among many other things.

The problem is requests for funding from this program is three times the amount of money that is actually available under current law. This amendment takes $32 million out of the $850 million of salaries. The $32 million figure comes from the amount that's over the President's request. And communities throughout Hurricane Alley and other areas in the country prone to devastation, such as earthquakes and wildfires, are all looking at ways to strengthen their defenses and avoid the often long and painful recovery. The predisaster recovery program is a community-based program and emphasizes commitment to local input on what's needed. Over the last decade, the predisaster mitigation program has developed and grown as mitigation itself has become accepted as Federal policy. Adoption and expansion of mitigation as a beneficial approach for government has been bolstered by studies that demonstrated cost reductions following disasters due to earlier mitigation investments.

So I ask support of this amendment and support of communities that would benefit from this amendment before disaster strikes.

I appreciate the chairman's input on my amendment. As I mentioned earlier, the request for predisaster mitigation funds is three times what is available under cur