Last month I emphasized my support for amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration. Today, the House of Representatives passed the 2012 FEMA Reauthorization Act, including Section 210, which includes such an amendment to the Stafford Act, and affirms the sovereignty of tribal governments. If Congress passes and the President signs such legislation into law, my office will act promptly in the development of appropriate regulations and policies for implementation.
We’re one step closer to getting this change into law -- and it has been Tribal leadership and organizations, representing more than 300 tribes, who have engaged members of the House and Senate to act on this issue. In fact, dozens of tribal leaders are on Capitol Hill today for “Tribal Unity Impact Week” to discuss their priorities with Members of Congress, including this change to the Stafford Act.
FEMA has strong, long-standing relationships with tribal governments and they are essential members of the emergency management team. The U.S. Government has a unique nation-to-nation relationship with federally recognized tribal governments and amending the Stafford Act to recognize this sovereign relationship will only strengthen the way that FEMA supports tribal communities before, after and during disasters. The House’s action today is an important step forward for this legislation which would strengthen our nation's emergency management team.