Bill seeks to make FEMA a cabinet-level agency

| 5/12/2006

A bill introduced into the U.S. House Tuesday, May 9, seeks to restore the Federal Emergency Management Agency as an independent agency.

The legislation seeks to restore FEMA as a cabinet-level, independent agency. U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-AK, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, R-VA, U.S. Rep James Oberstar, D-MN, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-PA, and U.S. Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, co-sponsored the bill.

“Putting FEMA, which was once a nimble 2,500-person agency, into a massive bureaucracy of 190,000 workers was a major mistake,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young, R-AK, said in a press release.

“As a result, in two short years, FEMA went from being one of the most effective and respected federal agencies into what we saw during Hurricane Katrina.”

The group of lawmakers contend that retooling FEMA will not solve the problem.

“Today we have a failed model of disaster management at DHS. This is the lesson of Katrina. Fortunately we have a proven model of success on which to build,” said Shuster, chairman of the Emergency Management Subcommittee. 

The bill also seeks to allow FEMA to lead and coordinate the federal efforts to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against the effects of all major disasters and other emergencies.

If passed by Congress and signed by the president, the bill would also create professional qualifications for the director, deputy director and establish an office of inspector general.

The bill – HR 5316 – is referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committees on Homeland Security and Government Reform.

– By Jami Jones