Lucille Roybal Allard (File photo)

House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) led the subcommittee’s hearing today regarding an update on recovery efforts for 2017 and 2018 disasters.  The witness was Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor.

The chairwoman’s opening statement, as prepared, is below.

I welcome everyone to the first Department of Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the 116th Congress.  I would also like to welcome Mr. Gaynor today.  I believe this is your first hearing as Acting Administrator.

 This subcommittee has a long bipartisan tradition, and emergency management issues are a prime example as to why.  Disasters do not distinguish where they strike by party affiliation, and helping disaster survivors and their communities in the wake of a disaster is a goal that we all share.  Most of the members of this subcommittee come from states that are frequently struck by disasters.

 My home state of California is a prime example.  Our state has been struck by catastrophic and deadly wildfires, and now is being affected by rains and floods that can be devastating, especially in the burned areas.  We greatly appreciate FEMA’s efforts to help disaster survivors and their communities in California.

FEMA has a demanding job.   Congress has given FEMA very broad and flexible authority and a difficult mission.  We ask FEMA to help people and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from some of the worst days they will ever face.   FEMA employees do this frequently, and with long periods away from home and families.  And we fully recognize that no matter how many times FEMA does amazing things, it is usually the things that don’t go well that get reported in the media and to members of Congress. 

 While this subcommittee is very supportive of FEMA, its employees, and its mission, that does not abrogate our responsibility for vigorous oversight.  During this hearing, and as we work with you going forward, we intend to ask tough questions.  This is not to make things more difficult, but to ensure we are fully informed as part of our responsibility to see that FEMA carries out its mission in a fast, efficient, and effective manner.  

 Next month, members of this subcommittee, and the Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, will travel to Puerto Rico to see firsthand how recovery efforts are faring.  While that will be the focus of our trip, it is not the exclusive focus of this hearing or our oversight activities.

 I would be remiss if I did not convey our thoughts and concerns for those impacted by the recent tornadoes in the Southeast, especially in Alabama.  Mr. Gaynor, I understand you were recently there, and that your colleagues at FEMA have been working with state and local partners in response to these disasters.  We look forward to your assessment of the situation during this hearing. 

 Again, I thank you for appearing before the subcommittee today, and I now turn to my colleague, Ranking Member Fleischmann, for his opening remarks.