Friday, August 12, 2022

Review - S 4521 Introduced – Catastrophe Planning

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 consideration.


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 statement 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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