Long piece in CQ about whether Congress will try to pull the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of the Department of Homeland Security. Quotes all the usual suspects.
FEMA has had a topsy-turvy history. Set-up by Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton’s play thing. Transferred to Homeland Security after 9/11. Victim of Katrina. What’s next?
There are some common sense reasons why the administration might want to think long and hard about letting Congress flip-flop around agencies in the department.
The department’s inspector general just declared taking FEMA out would be a dumb idea.
Napolitano just gave her first testimony as secretary. She stressed the “all-hazards” nature of the department’s mission. Pulling FEMA out of the department runs counter to that philosophy.
The department is holding its first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. It is supposed the review the national “homeland security enterprise” and report back to Congress before the end of the year. It makes no sense for Congress to mess with anything major in homeland security before it sees the report.
The White House just ordered a complete review of the national/homeland security framework. That suggests they have no clear conception of the direction they want to go. It would premature for the administration to make a recommendation to Congress on FEMA and reckless of the Congress to act without consulting the administration.
Perhaps the best reason of all right now is that it would cost a lot of money. That would come right of the department’s top line-the money that is supposed to make us safe. Why would the administration waste money at the same time they are calling for greater fiscal discipline in government spending?
So here is the verdict. If they take FEMA out it will be all about politics—and not about making the nation safer.