Monday, 19 November, 2018

Democrats Fume Over Transfer of FEMA Money to ICE Before Hurricanes

FEMA Says It’s Ready for Hurricane Florence, Defends 2017 Response Doc Shows Trump Transferred $10M From FEMA To ICE
Jeannette Daniel | 14 September, 2018, 19:46

Sen. Jeff Merkley of OR said the administration was taking money from FEMA's "response and recovery" to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at a time when Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Southeast U.S. coast.

Merkley's office provided a Homeland Security transfer and reprogramming notification document that showed the money was transferred.

Among other things, it redirected $9.75 million from FEMA's regional operations, response and recovery, mitigation, mission support and law enforcement training budgets.

FEMA said the diverted funds are less than 1 percent of the agency's total operational expenses and it has a separate account totaling $25 billion that it uses for disaster responses.

The transfer from FEMA to ICE is less than 1% of FEMA's overall budget. 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.

The top Democratic senator on the Appropriations Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, blasted the transfer of funds Wednesday, saying "our eastern coast is left even more vulnerable" as a result.

"I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on. addressing the challenges from hurricanes", Merkley said.

Merkley made the allegation about the money movement Tuesday night on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show".

"This is a scandal", Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley said in a statement, after his office released the documents. "At the start of hurricane season - when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA's inadequate recovery efforts - the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA".

More news: Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleads guilty in Mueller probe

Merkley has been a leading critic of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including the "zero tolerance" policy at the border that resulted in almost 3,000 children separated from their families.

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

Merkley said the 39-page plan indicates the Department of Homeland Security requested $9.8 million from FEMA accounts.

DHS argues in the document that the impact on FEMA will be "minimal".

Ray Zaccaro, Merkley's communications director, tells NPR the administration's response has been "defensive and completely fallacious".

As FEMA prepares to tackle yet another potentially devastating storm with Hurricane Florence, the agency's chief Brock Long is reportedly under an internal investigation for his alleged use of government cars in a personal capacity, according to Politico.

Nalepa added that Long was now focused on FEMA's work "preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and other active tropical systems".

"We'll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on. right now I am 100 pct focused" on Florence, Long said.

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