The Clarion-Ledger, 3/18/9

Separating the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security would take away resources the struggling agency needs to continue improving, congressional lawmakers, disaster experts and others said Tuesday.

“I don’t see any reason why it should be moved,” said Mary Troupe, executive director of the Mississippi Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities. “We have too many irons in the fire that need to be addressed. We need to get some policies in place.”

Troupe was testifying Tuesday before a House Homeland Security Committee panel examining FEMA’s progress since Congress passed the 2006 Post-Katrina Emergency Management Act to strengthen the agency. FEMA came under fire for its slow response after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Last month, Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a bill that would make FEMA an independent agency. Oberstar said the agency’s effectiveness has deteriorated since it was made part of Homeland Security.