The Federal Emergency Management Agency would see funding increases with a focus on confronting the effects of climate change and building community resilience under President Biden’s budget proposal.
The $52.2 billion net discretionary budget request for DHS in fiscal year 2022, which Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said would “provide DHS with the resources we need to keep our country safe, strong, and prosperous,” places FEMA at the top of the heap, accounting for a 31 percent share of DHS’ $90.8 billion total budget authority followed by Customs and Border Protection at 18 percent.
It comes after President Biden has declared disaster readiness to be an urgent priority, declaring while visiting the FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington on May 24 that he was “going to make sure the men and women of FEMA and our other key agencies have everything they need — everything they need, because they’ve got an incredibly difficult job.”
“The budget makes significant investments to confront climate change through pre-disaster planning and resilience efforts, climate resilience grant programs, electrification of the DHS vehicle fleet, and investments into FEMA’s incident response workforce,” DHS said in the budget document.
This includes $500 million in discretionary funding for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) competitive grant program, included as part of the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. In addition to the BRIC funds, the DRF would get an additional $18.8 billion to respond to major disasters.
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate would receive $39 million for community and infrastructure resilience research and development programs. “This funding invests in new and emerging technologies for optimizing FEMA disaster resilience and supports CISA’s mission,” DHS said, adding that $20 million of that is “for collaborative research in climate adaptation and resilience with the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C) that will be located within the Department of Energy. With this funding, S&T will collaborate with FEMA on mission-related projects in the climate, natural disaster, and community resilience and adaptation space.”
The budget also includes $19 million to ensure the readiness of FEMA’s incident response workforce with recruitment, training, and equipment, and also supports the new FEMA Incident Workforce Academy housed within the Center for Domestic Preparedness. “FIWA will use this funding to provide onboarding, orientation, training, and exercises necessary to ensure incident management personnel are ready, equipped, and mobilized for deployment,” the budget says. “FIWA will also purchase and build out a Multi-Use Facility to provide an experiential training capability critical to ensuring personnel can perform the mission essential tasks that are required when they are deployed to assist disaster survivors.”
FEMA would also get $5 million “to invest in the fruits of climate research that can be used by communities and states to create innovative climate change mitigation projects,” funding that will be “devoted to projects that adequately address climate change and increase community resiliency.”
The $28 billion FEMA budget request is nearly $1.9 billion more than the amount enacted in fiscal year 2021, including more than $532 million more than the previous year to fight climate change.
Funding is centered around three strategic goals: building a culture of preparedness, helping the nation be ready for catastrophic disasters “by strengthening partnerships and accessing new sources of scalable capabilities to quickly meet the needs of overwhelming incidents and focus on the Agency’s workforce to meet the mission,” and cutting the complexity of FEMA programs, policies, and processes “to reduce the administrative and bureaucratic burden impeding delivery of assistance and…