Introduced to the Senate this past June, the Global Catastrophic Risk Management Act details a Federal plan for addressing existential threats. Global catastrophic risk is defined here as “the risk of events or incidents consequential enough to significantly harm, set back, or destroy human civilization at the global scale.” Here is a brief summary of what the bill entails.
Within 90 days of the bill being enacted, the President establishes an Interagency Committee on Global Catastrophic Risk. The Committee consists of several members of the Executive Branch, and is co-chaired by a senior representative of the President and the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Resilience.
The purpose of the Committee is to submit a report on global catastrophic risk to Congress within a year of enactment. The report includes a comprehensive list of potential threats over the next 30 years, technical and lay descriptions of each threat, cumulative and individual likelihoods according to expert estimates, and expert-informed analyses of the most likely threats. It also includes a review of the effectiveness of early warning, a forecast of if and why these risks are likely to increase or decrease in the next 30 years, and an explanation of any limiting factors in the assessment. Finally, the report includes proposals for improving assessment and recommendations for legislative action.
Within 180 days of this report being submitted to Congress, the President submits a followup report on the ability of the government to maintain function in the event of a global catastrophe. This will assess the government's plans for maintaining essential functions during catastrophes and appointing successors after an official’s death, among other needs. The report will include a budget proposal and recommendations for legislative action if appropriate.
In addition to these two reports, the President and the Committee will also develop a strategy for providing for the basic needs of Americans in the event of a global catastrophe. This strategy assumes that multiple levels of critical infrastructure are incapacitated, the military is preoccupied with an armed or cyber conflict, and State and local governments are unable to provide for these needs alone. The strategy also works to enhance individual resilience by improving awareness and domestic supply chains, and includes efforts to seek humanitarian aid from international allies.
Within 90 days of this strategy being issued, the President produces a plan to enact it. This includes specific actions the President will take to ensure that the government is capable of implementing the strategy, that the public is educated on these matters, that strategic objectives are met, and that foreign adversaries are not able to undermine the plan. Within one year of this, the Department of Homeland Security leads a national exercise in executing the plan, involving State, local, and Tribal governments, information sharing centers, and owners of critical infrastructure. Within one year of the exercise, the President submits a review of the exercise to Congress.
The act is sponsored by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, and is cosponsored by Senators Gary Peters of Michigan, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, John Cornyn of Texas. Its current status is “ordered reported,” meaning the committee reviewing this bill sent it to the Senate as a whole for review.