Public Law 105-199 105th Congress

An Act

To establish an advisory commission to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for and respond to serious drought emergencies.


July 16, 1998 - [H.R. 3035] note

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


National Drought Policy Act of 1998. note

This Act may be cited as the ``National Drought Policy Act of 1998''.


42 USC 5121 note

Congress finds that--

(1) the United States often suffers serious economic and environmental losses from severe regional droughts and there is no coordinated Federal strategy to respond to such emergencies;

(2) at the Federal level, even though historically there have been frequent, significant droughts of national consequences, drought is addressed mainly through special legislation and ad hoc action rather than through a systematic and permanent process as occurs with other natural disasters;

(3) there is an increasing need, particularly at the Federal level, to emphasize preparedness, mitigation, and risk management (rather than simply crisis management) when addressing drought and other natural disasters or emergencies;

(4) several Federal agencies have a role in drought from predicting, forecasting, and monitoring of drought conditions to the provision of planning, technical, and financial assistance;

(5) there is no single Federal agency in a lead or coordinating role with regard to drought;

(6) State, local, and tribal governments have had to deal individually and separately with each Federal agency involved in drought assistance; and

(7) the President should appoint an advisory commission to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an integrated, coordinated Federal policy designed to prepare for, mitigate the impacts of, respond to, and recover from serious drought emergencies.


42 USC 5121 note

(a) Establishment.--There is established a commission to be known as the National Drought Policy Commission (hereafter in this Act referred to as the ``Commission'').

(b) Membership.--

(1) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of 16 members. The members of the Commission shall include--

(A) the Secretary of Agriculture, or the designee of the Secretary, who shall chair the Commission;

(B) the Secretary of the Interior, or the designee of the Secretary;

(C) the Secretary of the Army, or the designee of the Secretary;

(D) the Secretary of Commerce, or the designee of the Secretary;

(E) the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or the designee of the Director;

(F) the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, or the designee of the Administrator;

42 USC 5121 note
(G) two persons nominated by the National Governors' Association and appointed by the President, of whom--

(i) one shall be the governor of a State east of the Mississippi River; and

(ii) one shall be a governor of a State west of the Mississippi River;

(H) a person nominated by the National Association of Counties and appointed by the President; President
(I) a person nominated by the United States Conference of Mayors and appointed by the President; and

(J) six persons, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture in coordination with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Army, who shall be representative of groups acutely affected by drought emergencies, such as the agricultural production community, the credit community, rural and urban water associations, Native Americans, and fishing and environmental interests.

(2) Date.--The appointments of the members of the Commission shall be made no later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(c) Period of Appointment; Vacancies.--Members shall be appointed for the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

(d)  Initial Meeting.--No later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold its first meeting.

(e) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the chair.

(f ) Quorum.--A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.

(g) Vice Chair.--The Commission shall select a vice chair from among the members who are not Federal officers or employees.


(a) Study and Report.--The Commission shall conduct a thorough study and submit a report on national drought policy in accordance with this section.

(b) Content of Study and Report.--In conducting the study and report, the Commission shall--

(1) determine, in consultation with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and other appropriate entities, what needs exist on the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies;

(2) review all existing Federal laws and programs relating to drought;

(3) review State, local, and tribal laws and programs relating to drought that the Commission finds pertinent;

(4) determine what differences exist between the needs of those affected by drought and the Federal laws and programs designed to mitigate the impacts of and respond to drought;

(5) collaborate with the Western Drought Coordination Council and other appropriate entities in order to consider regional drought initiatives and the application of such initiatives at the national level;

(6) make recommendations on how Federal drought laws and programs can be better integrated with ongoing State, local, and tribal programs into a comprehensive national policy to mitigate the impacts of and respond to drought emergencies without diminishing the rights of States to control water through State law and considering the need for protection of the environment;

(7) make recommendations on improving public awareness of the need for drought mitigation, and prevention; and response on developing a coordinated approach to drought mitigation, prevention, and response by governmental and nongovernmental entities, including academic, private, and nonprofit interests;


(8) include a recommendation on whether all Federal drought preparation and response programs should be consolidated under one existing Federal agency and, if so, identify such agency.

(c) Submission of Report.--

(1) In general.--No later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit a report to the President and Congress which shall contain a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission, together with its recommendations for such legislation and administrative actions as it considers appropriate.

(2) Approval of report.--Before submission of the report, the contents of the report shall be approved by unanimous consent or majority vote. If the report is approved by majority vote, members voting not to approve the contents shall be given the opportunity to submit dissenting views with the report.


(a) Hearings.--The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.

(b) Information From Federal Agencies.--The Commission may secure directly from any Federal department or agency such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.

Upon request of the chair of the Commission, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information to the Commission.

(c) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

(d) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.

42 USC 5121 note.

(a) Compensation of Members.--Each member of the Commission who is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall not be compensated for service on the Commission, except as provided under subsection (b). All members of the Commission who are officers or employees of the United States shall serve without compensation in addition to that received for their services as officers or employees of the United States.

(b) Travel Expenses.--The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.

(c) Detail of Government Employees.--Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement, and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.

(d) Administrative Support.--The Secretary of Agriculture shall provide all financial, administrative, and staff support services for the Commission.

42 USC 5121 note.

The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits its report under section 4.

Approved July 16, 1998.



HOUSE REPORTS: No. 105-554, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Transportation and Infrastructure).

SENATE REPORTS: No. 105-144 accompanying S. 222 (Comm. on Governmental Affairs).


June 16, considered and passed House.

June 24, considered and passed Senate.


42 USC 5121 note.

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