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Kraut
04-27-2006, 10:52 AM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which floundered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, should be abolished and replaced with a new organization, a Senate committee recommended Thursday.

"Our first and most important recommendation is to abolish FEMA," said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "FEMA is discredited, demoralized, and dysfunctional. It is beyond repair. Just tweaking the organizational chart will not solve the problem."

"FEMA has become a symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy in which the American people have completely lost faith." (Watch Sen. Collins call FEMA "dysfunctional" and "beyond repair" -- 3:42)

"Katrina has taught us all the bitter lessons of the cost of failing to build and maintain a true national emergency planning and response system," Collins said. "The first obligation of government is to protect our people. In Katrina, we failed at all levels of government to meet that fundamental obligation."

The committee report -- which also was endorsed by the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- proposes creating "a stronger, more capable structure within" the Department of Homeland Security. (Read the committee's recommendations -- PDF)

The director of the new agency would report directly to the president, Collins said.

She said the proposed organization "would be, like the Coast Guard, an independent agency within the Department of Homeland Security. This is important because this status shields the new agency from internal reorganizations that could rob the authority of its assets or powers."

Lieberman blamed the government's failure with Katrina on long-term neglect of duties by officials, lack of realization that Katrina was a catastrophe before it hit, poor decisions and absence of effective leadership.

"These failures of leadership and government cost lives and multiplied the anguish of the storm's survivors," Lieberman said.

First call for abolishment
Two other major reviews of Katrina relief efforts have also cited numerous problems with FEMA and made dozens of recommendations. But the Senate recommendations are the first to say the problems with FEMA are so severe the organization should be abolished.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said he had not yet seen the report, but expressed doubts about the wisdom of its main finding, as the 2006 hurricane season is set to start on June 1.

"It's really time to stop playing with the organizational chart and realize it's time to start focusing on what governments at all levels are doing to prepare for the fast-approaching storm season," spokesman Russ Knocke said.

Knocke said DHS already is taking actions to implement the lessons learned during a White House review of Katrina failures.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Collins, Lieberman and their committee were instrumental in the creation of DHS and FEMA's integration into it. Congress would have to pass new legislation to smash FEMA and build its replacement.

John Copenhaver, a former FEMA regional director, said FEMA should have remained a Cabinet-level agency and not folded into DHS.

"I agree that it, to some extent, needs serious revamping but I don't believe it should be abolished," Copenhaver said. "I think that that's the wrong thing to do, and abolishing it and re-creating another agency is simply reinventing the wheel."

Nearly eight months after Katrina unleashed catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, estimates are that more than six out of 10 New Orleans residents are still living outside the city.

Across Mississippi, almost 100,000 people are still living in nearly 37,000 travel trailers and mobile homes provided by FEMA. About 42,500 FEMA trailers are across Louisiana and 2,300 in Alabama.

The storm claimed 294 lives in Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.

President Bush was visiting the region Thursday.

In addition to the forming of the new federal emergency organization, the committee proposed a second major recommendation: creating "regional strike teams."

Collins said such strike teams "would have representatives of all the federal agencies that are involved in responding to disasters, and they would train and prepare and plan with their state and local counterparts, with nonprofit organizations, and with the private sector. We think that would result in a far more cohesive and effective emergency response team."

Brown: Reinventing the wheel
The Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs listed 86 recommendations in its report and held 22 hearings on the Katrina disaster. The committee called 85 witnesses, including DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. Members reviewed 838,000 documents and interviewed former FEMA head Michael Brown.

Brown, who resigned amid criticism following Katrina, said the new agency would basically have the same mission FEMA had a year ago before its disaster planning responsibilities were taken away to focus solely on responding to calls for help, The Associated Press reported.

"It sounds like they're just re-creating the wheel and making it look like they're calling for change," Brown told AP. "If indeed that's all they're doing, they owe more than that to the American public."

jAZ
04-27-2006, 11:07 AM
I'm not going to presume to know enough to agree or disagree on this, but I will note that FEMA performed quite well under Clinton. Competent management plays a major role in competent outcomes.

banyon
04-27-2006, 12:12 PM
I think it's a good idea to make FEMA an independent agency and remove them from political pressures as much as possible.

Kraut
04-27-2006, 12:16 PM
I think it's a good idea to make FEMA an independent agency and remove them from political pressures as much as possible.
Can't argue with that :clap:

mlyonsd
04-27-2006, 12:29 PM
I'm not going to presume to know enough to agree or disagree on this, but I will note that FEMA performed quite well under Clinton. Competent management plays a major role in competent outcomes.

LOL, since there didn't seem to be any problems with FEMA through the Reagan and Bush 41 years are you going to give them the same credit you give Clinton?

Leave it to you to turn a what's best for the country topic into a political one.

Cochise
04-27-2006, 12:54 PM
Bush dismantled FEMA when he came into office cause he doesn't care about black people and eats babies.

banyon
04-27-2006, 01:01 PM
Bush dismantled FEMA when he came into office cause he doesn't care about black people and eats babies.

What kind of condiments does he use?

HC_Chief
04-27-2006, 01:54 PM
What kind of condiments does he use?

Not BBQ... everyone in KC, Texas, and Memphis knows he <i>hates</i> BBQ sauce.... cuz he's da debil

Jamie
04-27-2006, 01:55 PM
LOL, since there didn't seem to be any problems with FEMA through the Reagan and Bush 41 years are you going to give them the same credit you give Clinton?

How about, George W. Bush personally ruined an essential and previously effective government agency by making it a part of an enormous bureaucracy and by putting it under the charge of an unqualified political crony?

mlyonsd
04-27-2006, 02:09 PM
How about, George W. Bush personally ruined an essential and previously effective government agency by making it a part of an enormous bureaucracy and by putting it under the charge of an unqualified political crony?

Monett, MO? Is Jack Henry & Associates still headquartered there or are they even still in existence? I worked for them a hundred years ago.

How about the biggest natural disaster in this country's history proved that government at ALL levels failed and that FEMA couldn't have handled this particular disaster even if they weren't under DHS?

Sully
04-27-2006, 02:27 PM
God Lord...

A: "Clinton had nice hair"
B: " Yeah, but so did Reagan you blind partisan hack, why can't you admit that?"

A: "Nixon had a good collection of ties."
B: "**** Nixon and his ties, no one had better shoes than JFK. Quit trying to act like only your guy is the best, douchalicious."

patteeu
04-27-2006, 02:50 PM
How about, George W. Bush personally ruined an essential and previously effective government agency by making it a part of an enormous bureaucracy and by putting it under the charge of an unqualified political crony?

How about democrats in Congress ruined a "previously effective government agency" by insisting on the creation of a new cabinet department that would take control of said "previously effective agency?"

Does no one on the hate-Bush-at-all-costs side recognize that Katrina was an unprecedented disaster and that the reorganization that moved FEMA into DoHS was a result of an unprecedented terrorist event and was not the preference of GWBush?

mlyonsd
04-27-2006, 03:09 PM
God Lord...

A: "Clinton had nice hair"
B: " Yeah, but so did Reagan you blind partisan hack, why can't you admit that?"

A: "Nixon had a good collection of ties."
B: "**** Nixon and his ties, no one had better shoes than JFK. Quit trying to act like only your guy is the best, douchalicious."

I agree, pulling Clinton into this topic was "douchalicious".

Baby Lee
04-27-2006, 03:18 PM
How about democrats in Congress ruined a "previously effective government agency" by insisting on the creation of a new cabinet department that would take control of said "previously effective agency?"

Does no one on the hate-Bush-at-all-costs side recognize that Katrina was an unprecedented disaster and that the reorganization that moved FEMA into DoHS was a result of an unprecedented terrorist event and was not the preference of GWBush?
I can't help thinking this all could've been averted if G-Dub had paid attention in lip bitin' and tear wellin' class.

Radar Chief
04-27-2006, 03:20 PM
I can't help thinking this all could've been averted if G-Dub had paid attention in lip bitin' and tear wellin' class.

:LOL: If he’d only “felt their pain” things would be different. ;)

jAZ
04-27-2006, 03:55 PM
LOL, since there didn't seem to be any problems with FEMA through the Reagan and Bush 41 years are you going to give them the same credit you give Clinton?

Leave it to you to turn a what's best for the country topic into a political one.
Yes, I give them the same credit. 100%. Sorry for neglecting to be clear. It's worked for decades... right up until this administration. Now, for some reason the entire institution is a failure?

Seems to me that trying to fix the failures at FEMA over the last 5 years by throwing out the entire institution of FEMA is akin to trying to fix all the problems our country now faces as a result of the incompetence of the Bush Administration by tearing up the constitution.

Some times less is more. In both cases, tossing out the dill holes screwing things up is much prefered to tossing out the institution of democracy or the institution of FEMA.

jspchief
04-27-2006, 04:12 PM
Personally I think we should abandon the entire idea of a federal disaster response team. Make sure the money and the national guard is available, and let disasters be handled at the state level. The idea that we can ever really be prepared for disasters is absurd anyway. it's the inability to prepare for them makes them disasters in the first place.

Jamie
04-27-2006, 04:53 PM
Monett, MO? Is Jack Henry & Associates still headquartered there or are they even still in existence? I worked for them a hundred years ago.
They are in fact still here. The city government does basically whatever they want, the most recent example the city putting the expansion of the golf course to 18 holes to public vote, it being defeated, and the city doing it anyway.

How about the biggest natural disaster in this country's history proved that government at ALL levels failed and that FEMA couldn't have handled this particular disaster even if they weren't under DHS?

I don't believe that the difference in magnitude between Katrina and, say, Andrew explains the the disparity in their respective responses. Maybe you do. :shrug:

How about democrats in Congress ruined a "previously effective government agency" by insisting on the creation of a new cabinet department that would take control of said "previously effective agency?"
The Homeland Security Act was written by a Republican, and there were exactly ten Republicans in Congress that voted against it. 128 Democrats voted against it.

patteeu
04-27-2006, 07:38 PM
The Homeland Security Act was written by a Republican, and there were exactly ten Republicans in Congress that voted against it. 128 Democrats voted against it.

It was originally proposed and pushed by democrats including Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham (along with "moderate" Republican Arlen Specter) and originally opposed by Bush and his Homeland Security advisor, Gov. Tom Ridge. After months of resistance, during which time, the proposal gained popular support, Bush and the republicans wrote their own version of the bill which was eventually voted on and passed with, as you say, predominantly Republican support. At least in the Senate, democrats opposed the bill because of a few provisions that they considered gifts to special interests including protection from liability for pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies that develop anti-terrorism technologies. If Bush hadn't been pressured into making the Office of Homeland Security a cabinet level department, it wouldn't have happened. Not that I believe any of this has to do with perceived FEMA failures (or effective homeland security for that matter).

mlyonsd
04-28-2006, 06:58 AM
John McCain was on Imus this morning talking about an idea from somebody (not McCain's idea, but I missed who he said it was) where we should consider putting mobilizing Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart in disasters since they have access to stuff that's needed and the transportation mechanism already in place to get it there.

I think he's right, maybe we should consider including the private sector more in these kinds of disasters. It could be worth the discussion.

Radar Chief
04-28-2006, 07:00 AM
I don't believe that the difference in magnitude between Katrina and, say, Andrew explains the the disparity in their respective responses. Maybe you do. :shrug:

Weren’t Brown, FEMA and Bush applauded for their response to something like four hurricanes that hit Florida in ‘04? :spock:
So what’s so different now that makes anyone think FEMA is suddenly broken? Could the difference be that the local gubment worked with the federal level to put forth the best relief effort they could in Florida but did nothing but delay, resist then point fingers and cry racism in Louisiana? :hmmm:

patteeu
04-28-2006, 07:00 AM
John McCain was on Imus this morning talking about an idea from somebody (not McCain's idea, but I missed who he said it was) where we should consider putting mobilizing Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart in disasters since they have access to stuff that's needed and the transportation mechanism already in place to get it there.

I think he's right, maybe we should consider including the private sector more in these kinds of disasters. It could be worth the discussion.

Sounds like a good idea to me, although there will no doubt be charges of gouging and corporate greed with these private sector entities decide not to give their stuff/services away for free.

jspchief
04-28-2006, 07:47 AM
Sounds like a good idea to me, although there will no doubt be charges of gouging and corporate greed with these private sector entities decide not to give their stuff/services away for free.Compared to what the government normally pays for this type of thing, Home Depot could double their prices and the tax payers would still save.