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July 21, 2020

As COVID-19 Stretches FEMA Thin and Hurricane and Wildfire Seasons Ramp Up, House and Senate Committee Leaders Demand Administration Work to Fill Neglected Senior Leadership Vacancies at the Agency

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS); Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Gary Peters (D-MI); Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Dina Titus (D-NV); and Chair of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, & Recovery Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter T. Gaynor expressing concerns over longstanding senior leadership vacancies at the Agency, including both Deputy Administrator roles, which have each been without permanent appointees for six months. The lawmakers also noted their disappointment with FEMA’s compliance with its own succession plan, signed earlier this year by the Agency and approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

In their letter, the Committee Leaders wrote: “We have strong concerns that unless experienced and qualified personnel are selected for the myriad of senior leadership vacancies at your Agency, FEMA will be ill prepared to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public should additional events transpire requiring Federal emergency management support.”

The Members continued: “Any of these vacancies or decisions in isolation could be understandable, but together they are indicative of a pattern of neglect. Given FEMA’s critical mission, these vacancies are simply unacceptable, and we urge you to work with the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and the White House to identify qualified emergency managers to fill these vacancies before a catastrophic disaster befalls our nation.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

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Press Contact

Andrew Postal (DeFazio)

Adam Comis (Thompson)

Allison Green (Peters)

Kevin Gerson (Titus)

Patrick Wright (Payne)