Graves cosponsors bipartisan FEMA Independence Act

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be established as a cabinet-level federal agency under a bipartisan bill introduced on Sept. 20 by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA).

“When a disaster threatens, we need action not bureaucracy. Having FEMA buried within the Department of Homeland Security only contributes to delays, lack of action, and do-loops,” Rep. Graves said. “This experiment of putting FEMA under the Secretary of Homeland Security has failed. They can’t even handle the border. Americans deserve better.”

Rep. Graves signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the FEMA Independence Act of 2023, H.R. 5599, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) to help improve FEMA’s ability to prepare, respond, and recover, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Louisianians deserve a FEMA that responds with the same urgency that they feel after a disaster. I am proud to work on this bipartisan bill with Rep. Moskowitz,” said Rep. Graves. “It’s long overdue for FEMA to become an independent cabinet-level agency once again.”

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to better coordinate among federal agencies dealing with law enforcement, disaster preparedness and recovery, border protection, and civil defense. Currently, DHS oversees more than 20 agencies and has become too bureaucratic, impeding FEMA’s ability to respond quickly to disasters and reimburse communities in a timely manner, the summary says.

If enacted, H.R. 5599 would remove FEMA from DHS oversight and make the FEMA administrator a cabinet-level position.

“With my colleague Congressman Graves we have introduced legislation that will remove FEMA from DHS, returning it to being an independent federal agency — as it was originally intended,” said Rep. Moskowitz. “FEMA should not be one of 20 departments within DHS. There is no doubt that in the future FEMA will be busier than ever before and this move will help cut unnecessary red tape and make FEMA quicker.”

The bill has been referred to both the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee for consideration.