Congressional Hazards Caucus

The Congressional Hazards Caucus offers a platform for Members of Congress to demonstrate their concern and commitment to reducing hazard losses. This bicameral and bipartisan Caucus provides Members with information and education on preparing for, mitigating against, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters. The goal of the Caucus is to develop a wider understanding within Congress that reducing the risks and costs of disasters is a public value.

The efforts of the Caucus are supported by the Hazards Caucus Alliance, a broad coalition of stakeholders in the scientific, engineering, emergency management, insurance, and other hazards-related communities. The Alliance, in coordination with the Caucus, typically aims to hold around three congressional briefings per year on Capitol Hill. (See a list of past events here.) The Alliance seeks to provide ways in which local, state, and federal governments and non-governmental organizations can better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, and to highlight issues that lawmakers should address in order to make the country more resilient.

The Congressional Hazards Caucus is led by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the Senate and by Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) in the House. See a complete list of members here. For more information or to join, please contact Michelle Barreto at the American Geosciences Institute (mbarreto@americangeosciences.org).

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Why a Congressional Hazards Caucus?

Jurisdiction for hazards programs is spread among many committees in Congress, with each committee only handling a piece of the overall efforts to prevent and mitigate hazards. A caucus can provide the "big picture" to interested lawmakers and their staff and give them the opportunity to see how issues within different jurisdictions fit within a larger national effort. Typical caucus events include congressional briefings, roundtable discussions, special forums, receptions, and events targeted to a subgroup of the caucus. Events can be structured so that they also provide a forum for raising the visibility of a hazards-related topic with the media and the public.

A successful caucus reflects a strong partnership between its congressional members and the stakeholder groups and non-governmental organizations that share similar interests. This effort is an outgrowth of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) 2000 forums on public policy issues in natural disaster reduction, a cooperative endeavor of the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and other private sector organizations.


Objectives

  • Focus greater attention in Congress on the natural hazards facing the nation and improve understanding of the need to mitigate against the impacts of those events, including floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, space weather, earthquakes, landslides and land subsidence, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, windstorms, drought, and wildfires.

  • Enhance the integration of science and engineering in land-use planning and building code development.

  • Strengthen public and private support for efforts to better understand, prevent, and mitigate the impacts of natural hazards by demonstrating how scientific research can be applied to save lives, property, and money.
  • Support the implementation of new technologies, such as geographic information systems, to address societal challenges faced by state and local government and the private sector.

  • Identify additional areas of consensus and common interests related to hazards.