Senate passes bill to improve drought response

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that reauthorizes a federal program aimed at assessing the effects of and responding to droughts.

The Senate passed the measure through a unanimous consent agreement before adjourning for the evening.

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Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 2431, the National Integrated Drought Information Systems Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through 2018.

Earlier this month, the House voted 365-21 to pass the bill, meaning the legislation now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

The bill requires the director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to report to Congress on what it could do to reduce drought related problems and cost in a timelier manner and create a drought early warning system.

Passage of the bill comes as California is experiencing extreme drought that is negatively affecting the area. Some Democrats have blamed it on climate change.