Twitter Facebook Google RSS
Security Beat 

House, Senate Spar Over FEMA’s Status Within Homeland Security 


By Stew Magnuson 

Not long after the waters receded in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, critics of the of the U.S. government’s response proposed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency return to its status as an independent organization.

FEMA was by then one of the Department of Homeland Security’s 22 agencies.

Some even proposed that its administrator be elevated to a cabinet-level position. The House Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management recently passed the FEMA Independence Act of 2009, which would do exactly that.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., has 29 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, including several lawmakers from states hit hardest by hurricanes – Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

The voice vote, which passed the legislation on to the full committee, provoked a sharp rebuke from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Joe Liebermann, I-Conn. The matter has been settled, he insisted. “FEMA is exactly where it belongs,” he said in a statement.

Both he and ranking member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., said the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, passed in 2006, was building the organization into a “world class disaster preparedness and response agency.”

Collins said she was disappointed by the House vote.

“Removing FEMA from DHS makes no sense,” she said. It would “unravel all the impressive gains made in recent months since we passed our FEMA reform law. It would take us backward, not move us forward.”

Eight first responder organizations have come out in favor of keeping FEMA within DHS, she noted. More importantly, the executive branch wants to maintain the status quo. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated that the Obama administration has no intention of cutting FEMA loose from the department.

The bill has been referred to House Homeland Security Committee. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has introduced a Senate version of the bill, but has yet to find any cosponsors.
Submit Your Reader's Comment Below
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.
*Legal Notice

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.

  Bookmark and Share