Padilla Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Better Prepare Country for Catastrophic Events

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve our nation’s federal preparedness and response plans to global catastrophic and existential threats, including severe global pandemics, nuclear war, asteroid and comet impacts, super volcanoes, sudden and severe changes to the climate, and cyberattacks. The Keeping Everyone Safe and Securing Lives by Emergency Readiness (KESSLER) Act would develop a strategic plan to protect critical infrastructure, essential services, and provide for the general welfare and basic needs of Americans, especially our most vulnerable populations, in the event of a worst-case event that disrupts multiple sectors of society.

“We do not know when the next catastrophic event will occur, but we do know that it will happen,” said Senator Padilla. “Yet right now, the federal government is woefully underprepared to deal with the consequences of such an event. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will not only help us prepare for a future catastrophe, it will help us save lives in critical times.”

The KESSLER Act would:

  • Require the President to develop a national strategy to provide basic human needs and ensure the health, safety, and general welfare of American citizens in the case of a catastrophic event in coordination with Allies, state and local governments, Tribes, private sector stakeholders, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Require a plan to implement, operationalize, and inform the public of the new strategy, including a DHS-led national exercise to test the strategy.

The federal government has never conducted a national exercise to prepare for a national emergency. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) currently have a patchwork of contingency plans to provide for a localized response, but these local plans are too small in scope to respond to a regional or nationwide event, especially a cyber-attack by any capable adversary.

Full text of the bill is available here.


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