The U.S. senate has voted to kill FEMA. Yes, FEMA is finito.
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The infamous Federal Emergency Management Agency that so totally botched its handling of last year’s Hurricane Katrina emergency that it became a national embarrassment and a comic punch line for comedians everywhere succumbed in the senate to an 87-11 vote to kill it.
Yet, FEMA still lives in spirit, for at the same time that our senators voted to kill the much-maligned agency, they also voted to create a “new” agency to perform its duties under another name. So, FEMA is now EMA – The Emergency Management Authority. Who says congress can’t deal with America’s big needs?
This is much like the breakfast cereal makers do when sales sag. They come out with a “NEW!” version of their product, which usually is the same old stuff – though at a higher price and with less of it in the box. It’s a packaging scam.
Not so with EMA, shouts Republican Senator Susan Collins, who co-sponsored the FEMA redo with sort-of-Democrat Joe Lieberman. “It is not business as usual,” she assures us, “but rather a dramatic reform of FEMA.”
Really? Aside from the new name, EMA still is stuck in the bungling bureaucratic behemoth known as the department of homeland security, which lobbied heavily to keep the agency in its grasp. Well, yes, say the senators, but we provided an escape clause that lets the NEW! EMA report directly to the president in times of major disasters.
But, what if the president is a major disaster, as Bush was during Katrina? Even though FEMA did warn George about what was coming, he casually vacationed as the hurricane approached and then wandered off to California political rallies while New Orleans and the Gulf Coast drowned.
This is Jim Hightower saying… Gimmicks won’t work. The American people need a fully-funded, professionally-run disaster agency that is independent of bureaucratic overlays and presidential incompetence.
“Senate Votes to Replace FEMA With a New Federal Agency, The New York Times, July 12, 2006.