The House passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAI) of 2019 on June 4, legislation that strengthens emergency preparedness and response efforts and includes a bill offered by Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) to improve disaster planning for people with disabilities. Langevin's bill, which was introduced as H.R. 6201 last year, establishes a national advisory committee specifically tasked with reviewing current policy and providing recommendations to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are included in disaster planning.
"As we begin another hurricane season, we're reminded of the immense devastation natural disasters can cause," Langevin, co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus said in a statement. "The consequences are particularly dire for people with disabilities who face additional barriers to safety that often aren't addressed in the emergency preparedness and response planning process. As someone who lives with a disability, I have experienced the frustration and uncertainty of that reality. No American should ever feel like they might be left behind or forgotten when disaster strikes. By including people with disabilities as advisors during disaster planning and policy development, this bill ensures that the unique needs of this vulnerable community will be included."
Originally introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), PAHPAI is a comprehensive reauthorization of the nation's preeminent all-hazards disaster and public health emergency coordination processes. Langevin's advisory committee will support the work of the Department of Health and Human Service's Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The committee members will include representatives from federal agencies like FEMA as well as individuals with disabilities who have experience in disaster planning.
PAHPAI, which passed the House by voice vote, now goes to the president's desk, where it is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.