Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bush, at election time, reminds everyone of FEMA hacks and Katrina

Does President Bush have a death wish for the Republican party?

As the election creeps closer, he goes out of his way to oppose a proposed requirement that FEMA directors have five years experience. If folks had forgotten about FEMA crony Michael Brown and Katrina, Bush's action is sure to bring them back to mind. Fom

Lawmakers from both parties criticized President Bush on Friday for saying he won't comply with a homeland security law that sets minimum qualifications for future directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The law requires the president to nominate a FEMA director with "a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and "not less than five years of executive leadership." The qualifications are included in a spending bill the president signed into law Wednesday and aimed at the federal government's ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina.

That response was initially overseen by FEMA director Michael Brown, who had only limited experience in emergency management before coming to the agency in 2001, initially as the agency's attorney before being named by Bush as its top official in 2003.

In his signing statement, Bush said he also won't comply with a provision in the homeland security spending bill that authorizes the FEMA director to inform Congress about the nation's emergency management needs without first getting permission from the White House. The president has used signing statements much more than any of his predecessors to signal his intention to ignore provisions of laws he considers unconstitutional, or an infringement on executive authority.

Bush said establishing minimum standards for the director of FEMA could rule out a "large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge" to run the agency. The president, he added, has the constitutional authority to supervise the executive branch and recommendations to Congress should be subject to "appropriate executive branch review and approval before submission."

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