FEMA Says It’s Ready for Hurricane Florence, Defends 2017 Response

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

With Hurricane Florence baring down on the Carolina coasts there is now controversy over the transfer of $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The disaster relief funding left untouched by the transfer, Whelan said, covers post-storm assistance and the rebuilding of public structures, while "Response and Recovery" money tapped for the transfer pays for plans, logistics, supply-chain management and after-action reports that seek to improve on previous seasons, said Whelan, who is also a former official with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The transfer of almost $10 million from FEMA ignited public outrage as the southeastern United States braces for a powerful hurricane, Florence, and the likelihood of a costly response and cleanup effort.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., told MSBNC Tuesday a "Transfer and Reallocation" budget document he obtained outlines the reallocation of funds. FEMA has an account with US$25 billion that is to be used for disaster response and recovery, according to DHS.

He told USA TODAY that after the devastation of last year's storms, including hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma, FEMA should have the funds it needs to be prepared for another disastrous hurricane season.

The senator claims the money will support immigration detention programs. Leahy, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said no Democrats supported the transfers.

"Any questions regarding a particular investigation should be directed to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG)".

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts".

In a report issued earlier this month, the government's chief watchdog slammed the agency as being overwhelmed by a series of devastating hurricanes and other disasters, saying the agency failed to adequately house disaster victims, distribute financial assistance in a timely fashion or do enough to prevent fraud.

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He called on member states to "revive the lost art of compromise", insisting that this was the not the same as a weakness of convictions.

"This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster", Houston said.

Merkley's office blasted the comment.

"This is a scandal", Merkley said in a statement provided to HuffPost.

Doesn't Congress get a say how money is spent?

"I am hopeful that the administration will see the consequences of its actions and begin to work with Republicans AND Democrats to actually address the problems in our immigration system", he said in a statement.

The department then must notify the chairs of the relevant congressional appropriations subcommittees, who must approve.

Many Democratic lawmakers have called for the agency to be abolished.

"These are real shenanigans that need to be reined in, not just from a good governance standpoint but also from the standpoint that these are other accounts that need the money", Small said. "However, that includes things such as training", he said.

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