Legislation protecting disaster response workers advances in Senate


FILE – In this March 19, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump attends a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Washington. From left, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health. There’s the standard process for getting urgently needed coronavirus equipment: send a request to FEMA. Then there’s the other way: have a buddy who can pick up the phone and call the Trump White House. Trump’s team has proudly recounted instances where a call to the White House has produced fast results for those who have an in with the president. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Poolm, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Legislation written by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OR) has advanced in the Senate.

According to a release from the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce Act will protect Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Reservists from losing full-time employment when called to aid in disaster relief.

FEMA Reservists are on-call, temporary, intermittent employees who respond to disasters and emergencies. Reservists do not have protections in place for their full-time jobs after their response mission is completed.

The legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which Peters serves as Chair and Portman serves as a Ranking Member.

Our steadfast FEMA Reservists, who are essential to helping Americans recover from disasters and emergencies such as the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, should be protected from losing their employment when they are called into service. This bipartisan bill will not only help protect these essential workers, but also help FEMA recruit and retain Reservists to strengthen our response to disasters. I’ll fight for its swift passage into law and continue my work to ensure FEMA is ready to respond whenever disaster strikes.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters

FEMA Reservists should be protected from any disadvantage or discrimination due to their service and that’s why I’m proud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed this bipartisan bill to extend Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protections to FEMA Reservists. This bipartisan bill will improve the retention of these highly skilled emergency responders while also strengthening the agency’s readiness to respond to major disasters,” said Ranking Member Portman. “It is not only the right thing to do but comes as our country is facing a record high number of disasters where these Reservists are needed the most.”

U.S. Senator Rob Portman

The act was introduced by Peters and Portman after testimony they heard during the Committee’s oversight of COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

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