Last month, Sen Cornyn (R,TX) introduced S 4521, the Keeping
Everyone Safe and Securing Lives by Emergency Readiness (KESSLER) Act. The bill
would require the President to develop a strategy to ensure the health, safety,
and general welfare of the civilian population of the United States in case of
catastrophic incidents. The bill does not provide any authorization for funding
of the required program.

Moving Forward

While Cornyn is not a member of the Senate Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs Committee to which this bill was assigned for
consideration, his sole cosponsor {Sen Padilla (D,CA)}. This may provide enough
influence to see the bill considered in Committee. This bill would be seen by
the right wing of the Republican Party as an attempt to set up a scenario where
the Government could declare a national emergency, impose martial law, and take
away all civil liberties. Their opposition would be sufficient to stop this
bill from receiving a 50%+1 vote to move the bill out of Committee. There is no
way that this bill would be able to make it to the floor of the Senate for


The bill does not really define the extent of the
catastrophe for which this strategy and implantation plan are intended. In Section
2 of the bill (‘findings’), however, it does make the
that: “the Federal Government must prepare Federal, State, and
local governments, along with the people of the United States, to promote the
general welfare of the civilian population of the United States even if most or
all critical infrastructure sectors are impacted by catastrophic events”. An
event of that scope is almost by definition beyond the scope of any reasonable
emergency response planning effort.

The money necessary to stockpile food, water, medicine and
clothing alone (forget housing and transportation) for that scope of incident
would be inflationary in the extreme and removing that amount of material from
commerce would have a major depressive effect on the economy. The
implementation of the stockpiling effort would likely be a trigger of the event
being considered.

Furthermore, the United States would not be able to rely on any
significant foreign support in such an incident. Again, that amount of support would
beyond the capabilities of any reasonable coalition of nations, especially
because an incident of that scope, even if it only directly affected the United
States, would have cascading catastrophic effects on the economy of the rest of
the world. Other countries would be spending too much of their resources
responding to their problems at home to be able to provide the United States
with more than pro forma support.


For more details about the provisions of the bill, see my
article at CFSN Detailed Analysis –
– subscription required.

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