WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Tuesday welcomed final passage of legislation to help the Red Cross, other disaster relief agencies, and state and local governments obtain goods and services for disaster victims more easily than they can now.

The Federal Supply Schedules Usage Act of 2010, S. 2868, will allow the Red Cross to purchase goods and services from the General Services Administration (GSA), which negotiates contracts far in advance of a disaster and typically gets a better price than relief agencies or state and local governments can.

 “By leveraging the buying power of the entire federal government, this legislation will smooth the way for faster, cheaper, and more efficient delivery of relief to disaster victims nationwide by the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies,” Lieberman said. “The Red Cross is an essential partner of the federal government, particularly in providing relief to those who suffer through natural or man-made disasters and our wounded soldiers.

“When the President signs this bill, the Red Cross, other disaster relief agencies designated under the Stafford Act, and state and local governments will be able to access GSA’s pre-negotiated contracts, which means relief workers will be able to do the job they were meant to do – prepare for and respond to disasters – rather than trouble themselves with the administrative costs and headaches of negotiating their own contracts.

            “This bill is an example of government working in partnership with others to increase productivity and reduce costs.”

The Act will provide the Red Cross access to the GSA schedules consistent with The Red Cross’ Congressional Charter, which includes disaster relief and aiding wounded members of the U.S. armed forces.  The Act also will provide access to the GSA schedules for other disaster assistance organizations designated to provide relief under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and will expand the access of state and local governments for purposes of emergency preparedness and response.

The bill was introduced by Lieberman late in 2009 and was passed by the Senate on May 24, 2010.  The House passed the bill on September 15 with minor modifications. It now goes to the White House for the President’s signature.