Lawmakers want to know whether FEMA is ready to respond to disasters


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — From disasters in the past to those in the future, lawmakers want to make sure FEMA is ready to handle them all.

“FEMA’s mission of supporting people before, during and after disasters has never been more critical,” FEMA Administrator Deanna Criswell said.

Tuesday, Criswell faced questions from House members on the organization’s ability to respond to disasters.
“FEMA has had its hands full for the past several years,” Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said.

Katko says FEMA must respond where necessary, but rural areas are sometimes an after thought during a crisis, like the pandemic.

“Rural communities and upstate communities that are less affluent, really struggled to get a proportionate share of the FEMA resources,” Katko said.

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.) says FEMA also needs to be prepared to respond to the fall out from cyber attacks.

“Supplement it functions such as communications and operations until they are back on their feet,” Langevin said.

“Fiscal year 2022 budget is going to add 10 additional employees to the FEMA staff to specifically address and strengthen our own cybersecurity posture,” Criswell said.

President Joe Biden wants to increase the budget for FEMA by more than $28 billion and Democrats say it will help make up for the last administration’s decision to downplay climate change.

“The Trump administration in 2018, took unprecedented steps to ignore science,” Rep. Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.) said.

Clark says responding to a changing climate must be a national priority.

“The climate crisis is not only an existential threat to our planet, it also presents a major and immediate danger to our community,” Clark said.

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