Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 10, 2006

Dueling House bills on FEMA’s future

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on May 10, 2006

Two competing bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives in the last day on the topic of FEMA’s future. Below are links to the full text of the two bills:

H.R. 5316, which proposes to re-establish FEMA as an independent entity, and whose sponsors include Rep. Don Young, Rep. Tom Davis, et al.

The second bill (as yet unnumbered), which proposes to keep FEMA within DHS and whose sponsors include many of the senior members of the House Homeland Security Committee.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 10, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

Both of these bills will create more chaos and confusion just before the arrival of the hurricane season for 2006. If the system is broken, and remember that Katrina is the largest natural disaster so far in US History by several standards, including refugees (evacuees) and destroyed housing, and geographic area impacted as well as others (children experiencing separation from primary caregivers) then it is not going to be fixed soon. Two things can be done. Vest authority except for the declaration process (which should remain with the President) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act directly in the Secretary of DHS. And second, commit for this hurricance season only (subject to review later) that costs of Presdidentially declared disasters will be funded for the first 30 days at 100% by the feds with a 10% decline in federal participation each succeeding 30 day period until the federal financial particpation is Zero (0). In Hurricane’s HUGO, ANDREW, and KATRINA response was delayed in part over funding disputes. The American people should not suffer while its federal components argue over who pays. If the event is serious enough for a Presidential declaration then the feds owe the first dollars but subject to reduction over time.
Given more time, the PAS positions can be changed in DHS concerning domestic crisis response and recovery. I understand FCO’s have been named already under the Stafford Act for this season of hurricanes and now perhaps an experienced person can be found to be the Principal Federal Official to coordinate the FCO’s. That relationship should also be codified in the Stafford Act. These bills won’t help anything in time at this point.
One final point, find personnel that don’t need to mousse before working on helping the American people in a domestic crisis.

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