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Proposal's to Restructure FEMA a Band Aid Fix

Thompson Calls Chertoff's Proposal's to Restructure FEMA a Band Aid Fix

Washington, DC (February 13, 2006) - Today Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement regarding Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's plan to turn FEMA into a better "response" agency.

"Secretary Chertoff's proposal is just another example of placing a small band aid on a gaping wound. The Secretary's recommendations do little to address the larger problems caused by separating the preparedness and response functions at the Department of Homeland Security.

"The Department of Homeland Security has a record of presenting half-truths and half-solutions, which do little more than grab the headlines. But the American sees through it and deserve better.

"The ability of the federal government to effectively respond to an emergency is directly tied to its efforts to prepare and enable first responders to deal with a disaster. Unfortunately, Secretary Chertoff and the Bush Administration recognize the Federal role in word alone. Their actions demonstrate that they have actually weakened the Federal role in disaster preparedness by cutting Emergency Management Grants by nearly $15 million and narrowly focusing most of the Department's resources on terrorism related issues. To focus only on some disasters only weakens the federal government's response.

"The only way to avoid the past failures of FEMA is to address three fundamental problems, which Katrina brought so vividly to light:

• FEMA must be led by a director statutorily required to possess experience in emergency management.

• The organizational structure of the Department of Homeland Security must reflect the vital connection between the FEMA director and the President of the United States - the director must report directly to the president during all incidents of national significance.

• FEMA must operate in accord with the emergency management "cycle" system - requiring the re-unification of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.


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