Press Releases

Webster Statement from Hearing with FEMA Administrator Criswell on FEMA’s 2022 Priorities

Washington, D.C., April 5, 2022 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL) from today’s hearing entitled, FEMA Priorities for 2022 and the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan”:

Thank you, Chair Titus.  I want to welcome and thank Administrator Criswell for being here today.

FEMA has a mission critical to our Nation and my home state of Florida.  And Administrator Criswell, despite being in the Department of Homeland Security, is the principal advisor to the President when it comes to disasters.  A congressional review of the response to Hurricane Katrina indicated how critical it is for the lead emergency manager, not the Secretary of Homeland Security, to advise the President.  And that experience and knowledge is needed even more today.

In recent years, we have seen the number and costs of disasters increase – from hurricanes, flooding, and ice storms to tornados and wildfires.  Ultimately, we all must work towards solutions that will lower those costs and save lives through mitigation and preparation.  But we also need to look at how declared disasters can be closed out faster so FEMA, state, and local resources can focus more quickly on preparing for the next disaster.

Building-in mitigation has been a bipartisan priority of this Committee.  Studies have proven that with every $1 invested upfront, we can avoid $4 to $11 dollars in disaster damages.  While the Committee has passed legislation that supports this goal, it does not help if funding does not get out the door in a timely manner.  While I appreciate the importance of many of the objectives in FEMA’s Strategic Plan, in order to achieve those goals, it’s important for us to identify concrete steps in streamlining FEMA’s processes.

It seems every time we pass reforms intended to make the process more accessible and faster, red tape creeps back in or applicants in one State are told something different than those in another state.  In February, we received testimony from various stakeholders and the GAO detailing ongoing challenges in FEMA programs.  A common theme in much of the feedback related to the cumbersome process, inconsistencies in decisions, and confusing communication.  Unfortunately, these have been persistent issues.  We need to work to find solutions, and solutions that are sustainable, clear to applicants, and consistently applied.  I look forward to hearing from the Administrator on how FEMA’s priorities and strategic plan can help improve our federal emergency management system.

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