PORTLAND, OR (March 21, 2011) – U.S. Congressman David Wu (OR-1) issued the following statement today in response to news that his legislation, which would strengthen our nation’s natural hazards preparedness and response capabilities, has been introduced in the United States Senate:
“This is a very important step forward for a very important bill, which I authored last year to protect coastal communities in Oregon and around the nation from the kind of devastation we recently witnessed in Japan,” said Wu.
Congressman Wu’s legislation, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2010, would reauthorize critical hazard reduction programs that protect families and businesses. It passed the House of Representatives on March 2, 2010 with bipartisan support, but a companion bill was never introduced in the Senate.
On Thursday, March 17, 2011, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. 646, which is identical to Wu’s 2010 House-passed legislation. Wu plans to reintroduce his bill when the House convenes after the district work period and work again to build bipartisan support for its passage.
“It shouldn’t take a natural disaster to get Congress focused on the need for improved earthquake and tsunami monitoring, first responder protocols, and public education about safety procedures,” Wu said. “That’s why I worked to shepherd this bill through the House last year, and today I am encouraged by the Senate’s clear recognition of the urgency of my legislation.”
On the day of the Japan disaster, Friday, March 11, 2011, Wu spoke on the House floor and sent a letter to House appropriators expressing his strong opposition to proposed funding cuts to agencies that comprise our nation’s natural hazards preparedness and response capabilities.
“Our constituents, often unknowingly, rely on federal programs when natural disasters occur,” Wu said in the letter. “Defunding these services comes at much too high a cost.”
Last week, Wu held a congressional hearing to press federal officials on the need for improved early warning systems and disaster mitigation technologies at the Department of Homeland Security.