Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to temporarily give the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) direct hiring authority to fill vacant positions for emergency response personnel.
“With two months left of hurricane season and ongoing threats from regimes overseas, we cannot afford to be ill prepared to quickly and efficiently respond to another emergency,” said Rubio. “Due to natural attrition and devastating hurricanes this year, our emergency response personnel are exhausted and stretched thin, and there are worries that we would have difficulty deploying the medical response teams necessary to adequately aid Americans should the need occur in the near future."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relies upon disaster medical teams often comprised of part-time personnel that typically work two weeks a year outside of their normal employment. These teams are deployed for emergency medical responses during natural or manmade disasters.
Rubio's legislation gives HHS direct hiring authority, for a limited period of time, to fill these vacant positions. Congress gave HHS similar authority last year in response to the Zika virus.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).