Disaster Response and Preparedness

Our community has fought countless disasters together from droughts to wildfires and a global pandemic. In Congress, I am working to ensure that we have all the resources we need to both prevent and recover from disasters. 

Wildfire Action: 

The wildfires we’ve experienced are some of the largest our state has ever seen, but Californians have learned through experience just what it takes to make it through these disasters. After several years working with wildfire survivors, I know how complicated and daunting the recovery process can be. That’s why I’ve developed a Wildfire Resource Guide. I want to ensure you have the information and resources you need to safely navigate these fires in the face of a deadly pandemic. [Link to guide] 

It’s also vital that the government takes every step possible to support wildfire survivors, mitigate damage, and increase wildfire resiliency in our communities – something upon which I’m continuously working to build. That’s why I’ve introduced the Wildfire Defense Act. This bill will empower communities to implement science-based methods for mitigating wildfire damage and provide funding to design and implement new Community Wildfire Defense Plans with community members, first responders, and relevant state agencies. 

One of the most immediate steps I can take as a member of Congress is to advocate for disaster support from FEMA – something I have done time and again as our community experiences year after year of wildfires. I also joined Senator Alex Padilla in introducing two bills to redesign the federal government’s response to wildfires and provide additional resources to ensure equity for communities experiencing natural disasters. 

On top of relief from FEMA, there is a whole host of legislative action we are working on in Congress to prepare for and mitigate the threat of wildfires. In July of 2022, the House passed the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act – a comprehensive package to provide much-needed investments for improving fire-adapted ecosystems, protecting communities, expanding and modernizing science and technology, and ensuring a whole-of-government approach to wildfires and drought issues.  

Drought Prevention and Action: 

Communities, economies, and ecosystems across America are facing increasingly stressed water resources, but working together, we have an opportunity to develop more resilient water infrastructure, meet the challenge of planning for drought and climate change, and invest in watershed health to benefit fish, wildlife, and downstream communities. Federal water policy does not need to be a zero-sum game, and it doesn’t need to be conducted in secret: instead, we can build on the best ideas from everyone to secure a better water future and a healthier, more sustainable economy. 

A key pillar of the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency package that passed the House is my FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act, which invests in surface and groundwater storage, water recycling, desalination, and efficiency and conservation. It also improves drought planning and habitat restoration programs to ensure that natural systems are better prepared for a changing climate. The bill incorporates several policy ideas to build resilient water infrastructure, expand the use of modern water management tools and technologies, and assist disadvantaged areas in meeting their drinking water needs. It also includes policies to help homeowners make their homes more water-efficient, improve water data collection, and train jobseekers for careers in the water industry. 

Over the past few years, the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee that I have led has held several hearings to inform the development of sustainable water policy, including hearings on desalination and drought resilience, water recycling and reuse and improved water management for rural communities, western water infrastructure and innovation, and the projected impact that climate change will have on shrinking snowpack, reduced precipitation, and warming temperatures. I’ll keep making sure these issues are at the forefront of our work.  

Pandemic Response: 

As COVID-19 rose to the national stage in early March 2020, I joined my colleagues in quickly passing an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to help state and local health agencies conduct public health activities, including monitoring, testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation. Since then, we have gone on to pass three more lifesaving packages – the Families First Act, the CARES Act, and the American Rescue Plan – along with additional funds in yearly spending bills. For the latest on COVID-19, visit our dedicated page here 

I know more is needed to ensure the country can safely and confidently move forward from this virus, and any new diseases we might be up against. My Democratic colleagues and I will keep working to build up the U.S.’s pandemic response to ensure we can all lead safe, healthy lives.