WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today introduced legislation removing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Inhofe’s “Federal Emergency Management Advancement Act of 2007” (S.2214) returns FEMA to its pre-9/11 status as an independent agency led by a presidential appointee and also gives deference to state governments in determining disaster incident periods.
“FEMA’s integration into the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 added an extra level of bureaucracy and removed much of the oversight and autonomy that once kept the agency operating efficiently,” Senator Inhofe said. “Oklahomans experienced this inefficiency first-hand after a series of winter storms and summer flooding caused extensive damage to our state this year.
“For the better part of the summer, Oklahoma was hit by heavy rain, tornadoes, and flooding – and FEMA was once again slow to respond. Aid was further delayed because of a disagreement between FEMA and the State of Oklahoma over the correct dates of the incident periods. It simply makes sense that the State would have the most accurate information available regarding the disasters and their causes, so I have also included language in my bill stating that the Director should give deference to State documentation when determining disaster incident periods.
“Prior to FEMA’s placement under Homeland Security, Oklahoma did not encounter these same bureaucratic delays and other problems in the wake of natural disasters. My legislation will make FEMA more responsive and more efficient, creating an agency that will serve the American people to a level that is expected when these life changing disasters occur.”