Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Commends Passage of Her Bill Crucial to Emergency Alert Systems Readiness

November 18, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DCYesterday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hailed the House passage of H.R.6096, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act. It was passed by voice vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration. She re-introduced the bill in March this year along with Reps. McNerney (CA-09), Bilirakis (FL-12), and Olson (TX-22).
“The January 2018 false missile alert crisis we endured in Hawai‘i revealed deep vulnerabilities within our warning system infrastructure. Given our location as a state and the threats we are exposed to, our warning system must be current, functional, and able to communicate accurate information to people across all available platforms. The READI Act requires states to keep their Emergency Alert System Plans tested and up to date, and it requires the FCC to create best practices for state and local governments,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “It ensures more people are reached by removing the opt-out feature for emergency alerts on mobile phones and brings us into the 21st Century by meeting consumers in new digital spaces like online streaming services.”
The READI Act has bipartisan, bicameral support and was included in the Senate version of the 2021 national defense authorization bill earlier this year. There are efforts to include the bill in the final version of the annual defense bill, which is being considered by Congress this month.
Background: H.R.6096, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act (READI Act) would:
  • Require State Emergency Communications Committees to periodically review and update their State Emergency Alert System (EAS) Plans, which are often out of date. 
  • Direct Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide guidance to state, tribal, and local governments on issuing alerts (including the initiation, modification, and cancellation of alerts) and on training and certification of alerting officials, among other things. 
  • Establish a reporting system for false alerts so that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can track when they occur and examine their causes.
  • Ensure that more people receive emergency alerts by eliminating the option to opt out of receiving certain federal alerts on mobile phones. 
  • Require active alerts issued by the President or FEMA to be repeated. Currently alerts on TV or radio may only be played once. 
  • Explore the feasibility of providing emergency alerts to the public through online audio and video streaming services. 
In the 115th Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa introduced the READI Act and urged Congress to pass the bill. Earlier that year, an emergency alert indicating an inbound, ballistic missile threat — later determined to be false alarm — raised concerns across the state and Rep. Gabbard’s swift response called for accountability as well as renewed diplomatic efforts to address the nuclear threat by North Korea.
In the aftermath of the missile threat false alert, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced several related measures including:
  • The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 (H.R. 4949) that would improve accountability by ensuring transparent investigations and disclosure into the incident and establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans, among other measures.
  • The Civil Defense Preparedness Act of 2018 (H.R. 5399) would expand existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terrorism and catastrophic event grant programs to include improving nuclear, biological, and chemical attack preparedness.
  • The Authenticating Local Emergencies and Real Threats (ALERT) Act of 2018 (H.R. 4965) would improve the emergency alert system and give the federal government the primary responsibility of alerting the public of a missile threat.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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