Chairwoman Roybal-Allard Statement at DHS Appropriations Hearing on FEMA Budget Request
House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) led the subcommittee’s hearing today about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fiscal year 2020 budget request. The witness was Acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor.
The chairwoman’s opening statement as prepared is below.
I welcome everyone to today’s hearing on the FY 2020 budget proposal for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Administrator Gaynor, welcome back.
I would like to begin by thanking FEMA for its work in assisting Californians recovering from last year’s devastating wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura Counties.
Last month, you testified on FEMA’s continuing efforts to support recovery from recent disasters. Since that hearing, Chairman Price and I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico and see some of those efforts firsthand. We also met with officials from both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as disaster survivors, and I thank your staff for facilitating and supporting those meetings.
FEMA and its employees continue to lead our nation in recovering from the unprecedented disasters of the last few years. While it is true FEMA has taken positive steps towards recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is clear there is still much more work to be done to support the islands’ recoveries. Your agency is doing this work while at the same time implementing and developing guidance on dozens of new provisions created by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018.
Every FEMA program and activity is critical. That is why I was disappointed that the administration proposes an overall cut of 8.5 percent to FEMA’s budget outside of the Disaster Relief Fund. The proposed cuts are particularly glaring in the Federal Assistance account, which has a proposed 20 percent reduction to the current year budget.
With FEMA proposing a new National Priority Preparedness Grant program, the proposed cuts to existing programs are even larger. This includes, for example, a 37 percent cut to the State Homeland Security Grant Program, and a 33 percent cut to the Urban Areas Security Initiative program. The budget also proposes to eliminate programs that train state and local homeland security officials, emergency managers, and first responders, including those at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security in my home state of California.
Because states and urban areas rely heavily on FEMA grants to help improve and maintain their preparedness levels, the proposed cuts leave a gaping hole in your budget that we will need to find a way to fill.
We will discuss these and other aspects of your budget proposal this afternoon. As you did in our hearing last month, I also hope you can provide us an update on recovery efforts from recent disasters.
Again, I thank you for appearing before the subcommittee today.