WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) questioned FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on the status of hurricane recovery efforts during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing this week. Congressman Higgins also asked Administrator Criswell to amplify Louisiana’s request for supplemental disaster relief with President Biden.
A timeline of Congressman Higgins’ actions on hurricane and flood recovery efforts is available here.
Key exchanges include:
Congressman Higgins: “Almost a year after Hurricane Laura’s landfall, my constituents are still deep in the rebuilding process and facing new uncertainty as another hurricane season has already begun. And, the federal government is largely responsible for that uncertainty. Let me explain. Louisiana’s Governor issued a formal request to the Biden administration in January for supplemental disaster relief. My office has pushed this request in every way through every channel.”
Congressman Higgins: “However, President Biden and Speaker Pelosi, respectfully, have been somewhat of an obstacle to the swift approval of supplemental disaster funding for Louisiana. The Speaker’s office took some responsibility for this delay recently in a media interview stating that the Democratic Congress and the Biden Administration are going to ‘consider the need for supplemental disaster funding’ for Louisiana.“
Congressman Higgins: “May I say that we are beyond the time for consideration. It’s been 10 months. President Biden visited Lake Charles, and we thank him for that. He was not there to survey damages, but it would have been impossible to miss those damages. We have repeatedly communicated Louisiana’s extreme needs to the Biden White House and to Madam Speaker Pelosi. Yet, no effort from Democratic leadership has been made to move forward with a supplemental disaster bill.“
Congressman Higgins: “The people that I represent are begging for help from FEMA to navigate through FEMA’s own complexities to access existing funds through existing programs for recovery relief. I ask for your commitment to work with the people of Southwest Louisiana to help them navigate through these complexities and to ease that pain. Can I have your commitment from you and your agency, Madam, on that?“
Administrator Criswell: “Representative Higgins, absolutely you have my commitment. I recently visited Louisiana and met with political leadership in Southwest Louisiana that were impacted by those storms. We have recently opened up a recovery center that’s providing not just assistance to the current storm that was experienced in recent weeks but also to help them navigate the process for the previous storms as well.”
Congressman Higgins: “In closing, I would like to ask for your commitment and assistance to accomplish two things. First, the Louisiana delegation has been pushing for supplemental disaster funding for some time now. Many months. I respectfully ask that you amplify that request to President Biden.“
Congressman Higgins: “And, second, again I ask for your assistance with helping local governments in my district fully understand the pre-disaster mitigation grant process and other resources that are available to them.“
Congressman Higgins: “I thank you, ma’am, for being here today. I have several questions that I’ll submit in writing and I very much look forward to working with you.”