House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Leaders Call for FEMA Independence
Washington, D.C. – House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure leaders, Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) and Republican Leader John L. Mica (R-FL), today introduced H.R. 1174, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Independence Act of 2009.
Representatives Oberstar and Mica, along with Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Chairwoman and Ranking Republican Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, introduced the FEMA Independence Act of 2009.
“The poor response following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 was predictable given the dismantling of FEMA within Department of Homeland Security,” Mica said.
Mica continued, “After we passed the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act in 2006 and many of the pieces were put back together, problems continue to persist at FEMA. Burying FEMA in a large department has undermined its ability to respond quickly to disasters and lines of communication and accountability continue to be confused. I want to thank Chairman Oberstar for showing leadership on this very important issue.”
"FEMA must be quick and nimble and have a direct line to the president to lead and direct federal assets to a disaster zone. Maneuvering inside a large bureaucracy creates unnecessary delays,” Mica added.
“As a Representative of a state that has seen its fair share of natural disasters, I know first-hand the importance of having a timely and efficient response system,” said Diaz-Balart. “FEMA is currently buried in a large department and hindered from acting quickly and with agility, resulting in unnecessary delays that impact the states and communities that count on its assistance.”
“This important legislation will ensure FEMA has the authority, tools and resources it needs to carry out its mission. It will also provide a level of accountability that has been lacking to date,” Diaz-Balart added.
FEMA was placed in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when the department was created by Congress in 2002. The proposed legislation would remove FEMA from DHS and establish it as an independent agency, as it had been prior to moving to DHS.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has oversight jurisdiction over FEMA.