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Full Text of this Amendment
At the end of title II, insert the following:
Subtitle D--8/29 Commission
SEC. 2061. SHORT TITLE.
This subtitle may be cited as the ``8/29 Commission Act''.
SEC. 2062. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck the United States in 2005, caused almost $200,000,000,000 in total economic losses, including insured and uninsured losses;
(2) multiple reviews have been conducted, and multiple commissions have been established, with respect to assessing the failure of levee systems and related infrastructure beginning in August 2005, but few definitive recommendations have been offered, and Congress has not been provided with specific proposals for action regarding the levees;
(3) to the extent the United States continues to face the possibility of another significant levee failure and the possible resulting devastation and damage, a proper technical and investigative review is needed; and
(4) the most efficient and effective approach to assessing the failure of the levees and subsequent devastation is--
(A) to establish a bipartisan commission of experts to study--
(i) the management, construction, and funding of levee, flood control, and hurricane protection projects; and
(ii) the means by which the Federal Government responds to catastrophic disasters and by which the Federal Government prepares and develops contingency plans and disaster preparations; and
(B) to require the Commission to timely report the recommendations of the Commission to Congress so that Congress can quickly identify any outstanding issues and determine a solution to protect residents of the United States.
SEC. 2063. ESTABLISHMENT OF 8/29 COMMISSION.
There is established a commission, to be known as the ``8/29 Commission'', to examine the events beginning on August 29, 2005, with respect to the failure of levees in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (referred to in this subtitle as the ``Commission'').
SEC. 2064. MEMBERSHIP.
(a) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of 12 members, of whom--
(1) 2 members shall be appointed by the President;
(2) 2 members shall be appointed by the Chairperson, in consultation with the Ranking Member, of the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate;
(3) 2 members shall be appointed by the Chairperson, in consultation with the Ranking Member, of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate;
(4) 2 members shall be appointed by the Chairperson, in consultation with the Ranking Member, of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives;
(5) 2 members shall be appointed by the Chairperson, in consultation with the Ranking Member, of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives; and
(6) 2 members shall be appointed by the Governor of the State of Louisiana, subject to confirmation by the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate.
(b) Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.--
(1) ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON.--The Commission shall, by a majority of the members of the Commission, elect a Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson from among the members of the Commission.
(2) POLITICAL AFFILIATION.--The Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson elected by the members of the Commission under paragraph (1) shall not both be affiliated with the same political party.
(c) Prohibition.--No elected official of the Federal Government shall serve as a member of the Commission.
(d) Sense of Congress Regarding Qualifications.--It is the sense of Congress that individuals appointed to the Commission should be--
(1) prominent United States citizens; and
(2) individuals who are nationally recognized for a significant depth of experience in professions such as--
(A) governmental service;
(C) public works;
(D) wetlands restoration;
(E) public administration;
(F) disaster planning and recovery; and
(G) environmental planning.
(e) Meetings; Quorum; Vacancies.--
(1) INITIAL MEETING.--If, on the date that is 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, at least 8 members of the Commission have been appointed under subsection (a), the members may meet and, if necessary, select a temporary chairperson, who may begin the operations of the Commission, including the hiring of staff.
(2) SUBSEQUENT MEETINGS.--After the initial meeting, the Commission shall meet at the call of the chairperson or a majority of the members of the Commission.
(3) QUORUM.--7 members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.
(4) VACANCIES.--A vacancy on the Commission--
(A) shall not affect the powers of the Commission; and
(B) shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.
SEC. 2065. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.
The Commission shall--
(1) review findings and recommendations contained in all public and private studies conducted in the aftermath of the levee failures in the State of Louisiana on or after August 29, 2005, including--
(A) the study entitled ``The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina'' and dated February 2006;
(B) the study entitled ``Performance Review of FEMA's Disaster Management Activities in Response to Hurricane Katrina'', numbered OIG-06-32, and dated March 2006;
(C) the study entitled ``A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina'' (Report No. 109-377) and dated February 15, 2006;
(D) the study entitled ``Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared'' (S. Rept. 109-322);
(E) the study entitled ``Interagency Task Force Report'' and dated June 1, 2006; and
(F) the study entitled ``Prioritizing America's Water Resources'', published by the National Associations of Public Administrators, and dated February 2007;
(2) examine and review the ongoing exposure of the United States to the levee failures described in paragraph (1) and other potential future levee failures; and
(3) submit to the President and Congress a report that contains recommendations for any necessary legislative or regulatory change that will--
(A) improve the functioning of the Corps of Engineers to prevent a catastrophic levee failure;
(B) ensure proper planning and review of Federal and State agencies to prevent such a failure in the future;
(C) provide for environmental management and recovery during and after a disaster;
(D) provide for the identification of each party that was responsible for each error that helped cause the events of August 29, 2005; and
(E) outline each proposal that is necessary to revise the management, planning, funding, and oversight of the levees and flood control projects that are located in the disaster affected areas.
SEC. 2066. POWERS OF COMMISSION.
(a) In General.--
(1) HEARINGS AND EVIDENCE.--In carrying out the duties of the Commission under this subtitle, the Commission, and any subcommittee or member acting under the authority of the Commission, may--
(A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission, subcommittee, or member, as applicable, determines to be appropriate; and
(B) require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission, subcommittee, or member, as applicable, determines to be appropriate.
(A) IN GENERAL.--A subpoena issued under paragraph (1)(B)--
(i) may be issued under the signature of the Chairperson of the Commission, with the concurrence of the Vice Chairperson of the Commission; and
(ii) may be served by any person designated by the Chairperson of the Commission.
(B) APPLICABILITY OF REVISED STATUTES.--Sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes (2 U.S.C. 192 et seq.) shall apply in the case of a failure of any witness to comply with a subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section.
(b) Contracting.--The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to carry out the duties of the Commission under this subtitle.
(c) Information From Federal Agencies.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--The Commission may secure directly from a Federal agency such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out this Act.
(2) PROVISION OF INFORMATION.--On request of the Chairperson of the Commission, the head of the agency shall provide the information to the Commission.
(d) Assistance From Federal Agencies.--
(1) GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION.--The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, administrative support and other services to assist the Commission in carrying out the duties of the Commission under this subtitle.
(2) OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES.--In addition to the assistance prescribed under paragraph (1), any other Federal department or agency may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as the head of the department or agency determines to be appropriate and in accordance with applicable law.
(e) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other agencies of the Federal Government.
(f) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.
SEC. 2067. STAFF OF THE COMMISSION.
(1) IN GENERAL.--The Chairperson of the Commission may, without regard to the civil service laws (including regulations), appoint and terminate an executive director and such other additional personnel as are necessary to enable the Commission to perform the duties of the Commission.
(2) CONFIRMATION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.--The employment of an executive director shall be subject to confirmation by the Commission.
(A) IN GENERAL.--Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the Chairperson of the Commission may fix the compensation of the executive director and other personnel without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates.
(B) MAXIMUM RATE OF PAY.--The rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel shall not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
(b) Personnel as Federal Employees.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--The executive director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
(2) MEMBERS OF COMMISSION.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any member of the Commission.
(c) Detail of Federal Government Employees.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--An employee of the Federal Government may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement.
(2) CIVIL SERVICE STATUS.--The detail of the employee shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(d) Consultant Services.--The Commission may procure the services of any expert or consultant, in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, at a rate not to exceed the daily rate of pay of an individual occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
SEC. 2068. REPORT.
Not later than 120 days after the date on which all members of the Commission are appointed under section 2064(a), the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a final report that contains--
(1) a detailed statement of the findings of the Commission; and
(2) any recommendations of the Commission for legislative or administrative action that the Commission determines to be appropriate.
SEC. 2069. TERMINATION.
The Commission shall terminate on the date that is 60 days after the date on which the Commission submits the final report under section 2068.
SEC. 2070. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There is authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 to carry out this subtitle.
(As printed in the Congressional Record for the Senate on May 15, 2007.)