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Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Protect FEMA Reservists' Jobs During Disaster Response Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman and of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to protect Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Reservists from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response has been signed into law. FEMA Reservists are temporary, on-call and intermittent employees who are essential to the agency’s mission to quickly respond to disasters, but they currently lack employment protections that ensure they will be able to return to their full-time jobs once their disaster response mission is complete.

“FEMA Reservists are essential to ensuring the federal government can aid communities that have been hit by natural disasters and other emergencies. These dedicated employees need our support as they help people rebuild and recover following extreme weather events like floods and hurricanes,” said Senator Peters. “Now that President Biden has signed this commonsense, bipartisan bill into law – FEMA Reservists will no longer have to risk their livelihoods when being called up to respond to a disaster.”

Currently, FEMA faces a large shortfall of Reservists because it is difficult to recruit and retain Americans who are likely unable to balance Reservist duties and full-time employment. Unlike reservists in the U.S. military, FEMA Reservists do not currently have employment protections that would enable them to perform their disaster response duties and ensure that their permanent, full-time jobs will still be available when they return.

The Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce Act extends critical employment protections to FEMA Reservists to ensure they would be able to keep their full-time employment when they are called to assist in disaster response efforts. Peters introduced the legislation following testimony he heard as part of the Committee’s bipartisan oversight of the COVID-19 pandemic response to ensure the United States is better prepared for future national emergencies.

As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led several efforts to strengthen our federal disaster preparedness and response. Peters secured $500 million in funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill for a program he created to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce the risk of shoreline erosion, extreme flooding, and other natural disasters. Peters also convened a hearing with disaster preparedness and response experts to hear how worsening natural disasters, including flooding, severe storms, and wildfires, continue to harm lives and livelihoods in Michigan and across the nation.