House Committee Holds Hearing on FEMA’s Disaster Response and OMB’s Supplemental Funding Request

The Subcommittee on Homeland Security of the House Appropriations Committee held an oversight hearing regarding FEMA’s disaster response on November 30. FEMA Administrator Brock Long was the sole witness. Mr. Long answered questions regarding FEMA’s response to the recent disasters and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) request for additional supplemental disaster-recovery funding.

In his opening remarks, Representative John Culberson (R-TX) criticized the OMB request, calling it “deeply upsetting” for not requesting funds to address “the largest housing disaster in the history of the United States of America.” Mr. Long acknowledged that “housing is going to be the most difficult mission.” Representative David Price (D-NC) asked Mr. Long why FEMA had not yet entered into an agreement with HUD to administer the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which has been used after other recent disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy. Mr. Long did not directly address the use of DHAP, but said he was in daily conversations with HUD. He cited Texas and its General Land Office as a model of disaster housing recovery. He also said that the current OMB request does not include funding for California because the normal appropriations for FEMA’s disaster relief fund should cover the cost of damages caused by the wildfires. If needs go unmet in California, he said, more funding would be requested at a later date.