House Amendment to S. 546, RESPONSE Act of 2016

H.Amdt. S. 546

RESPONSE Act of 2016

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

November 29, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the House will consider the House Amendment to S. 546, the RESPONSE Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. S. 546 was introduced on February 24, 2015 by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Committee ordered the bill to be reported, without amendment, on July 21, 2015.  S. 546 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on May 9, 2016.  The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote, on September 14, 2016.

Bill Summary

S. 546, as amended, establishes the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation Subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Advisory Council to provide recommendations regarding emergency responder training related to hazardous materials incidents involving railroads.

The Subcommittee is temporary and comprised of individuals from the public and private sector, agencies, emergency responders, and technical experts. The Subcommittee will review training, resources, best practices, and unmet needs related to emergency responders to railroad hazardous materials incidents. Further, the Subcommittee will evaluate and provide recommendations on the quality and application of training for local emergency responders related to rail hazardous materials incidents, modernizing training course content, identifying overlap in training content, and determining the effectiveness of funding levels for training emergency responders.


According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the volume of crude oil carried by rail increased 423 percent between 2011 and 2012. In 2013, the number of rail carloads of crude oil approached 400,000, reached approximately 450,000 carloads in 2014, and dropped to approximately 390,000 railroads in 2015, compared to just 9,500 carloads in 2008. Increased crude oil transportation by rail can increase the potential risks of derailments and accidents. According to the Committee, in order to ensure the safety of communities around the country, there is a need to ensure that emergency responders receive the best training and coordination to properly respond to hazmat incidents on the national rail system.[1]

The House Amendment brings the bill in line with FAST Act requirements and is expected to be accepted by the Senate.

[1] See House Report 114-808 at 5.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing S. 546 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period to establish and staff the subcommittee and prepared recommendations. Any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. CBO further estimates enacting S. 546 would not affect direct spending or revenues, and would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.