It is pretty much clear where things stand in the debate of FEMA in or out of the Department of Homeland Security. Everyone is waiting on the White House including the new secretary of the department.
FEMA can only be moved out by legislative fiat and it is unlikely that any bill would clear all the hurdles to get to the president’s desk as a stand alone measure. That means it would have to go in omnibus legislation. Leadership likely won’t do that without a go ahead from 1600 Pennsylvania.
There is plenty of evidence FEMA is working well in the department. Last year was one of the busiest disaster years on record and FEMA and the department did fine. In fact, the new secretary didn’t even feel the need to go to the scenes of the most recent FEMA deployments until well after operations were underway.
The other issue with taking FEMA out is the cost involved. It cost a bundle to stick it in. It will cost more to pull it out. In era when the White House wants to save money that is something to think about. The cost of removing FEMA would come from the department’s top line–right out of the money meant to protect us.
With no time to study the issue and no serious evidence to prove taking FEMA out is a good idea, the only other reason to do it is “ye olde politics.” If the administration moves FEMA for a “political” calculation it will have crossed the line in the sand…going back to the pre-9/11 days when turf meant more than keeping the country safe, free, and prosperous.