CV NEWS FEED // House Republicans are investigating the Biden administration’s response to the deadly wildfires that devastated the Hawaiian island of Maui last month.
In a letter addressed to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, 15 House Republicans questioned the steps taken by the executive branch to aid victims.
“In order to assist the Committee in conducting oversight of FEMA’s response to the
Lahaina fire, please answer the following [eight] questions in writing as soon as possible but not later than September 29, 2023,” wrote the House Republicans:
1. What have the State of Hawaii and local officials requested in terms of federal support? Have these requests been filled, and how long did it take to fill them? If FEMA has not been able to fill such requests, what is the reason?
2. What has FEMA tasked other federal agencies with providing, in terms of aid or
services? Have such agencies complied with such requests? If not, why not? If they have complied with such requests, were they able to do so in a timely manner?
The Republicans also asked about what the Biden administration was doing to provide housing to the displaced. “How many people are currently receiving housing-related assistance as a result of the wildfires?” they asked. “Are all those needing housing-related assistance receiving it?”
During the fire, over a thousand residential buildings in the seaside community of Lahaina were destroyed.
The lawmakers also asked FEMA to clarify “concerns raised by media reports of federal workers staying in luxury hotels on Maui subsequent to the wildfires on Maui.”
Earlier in the letter, they wrote that
recent reporting has highlighted FEMA employees staying at luxury hotels and resorts. In speaking to FEMA staff, Committee staff were told it was necessary to temporarily house FEMA employees in such locations so they could be close enough to Lahaina to effectively perform their duties. Committee staff were also told FEMA paid government rates at such locations, so the amount per night was likely less [than] was being reported in media accounts. Nevertheless, it is important to understand FEMA’s plans to house federal workers as the response and recovery move forward.
The congressmen who signed the letter all currently serve on the United States House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. The two lead signatories were Rep. James Comer, R-KY, who chairs the committee, and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-TX, the chairman of the Government Operations and the Federal Workforce subcommittee.
Following their letter, Comer and Sessions released a statement calling out the president for what they deemed to be a discrepancy between his words and actions.
“The deadly wildfire in Maui shocked the nation and left many, especially those directly impacted by the tragedy, with serious questions that remain unanswered today,” the congressman wrote.
“President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most,” they continued:
To ensure locals are receiving the assistance they need, and taxpayer dollars being used effectively, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is taking action and seeking information from FEMA on all ongoing recovery efforts in Maui.
In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, multiple left-leaning news sources used “empathy” as a selling point for Biden’s candidacy. An article in The Atlantic published a day before the election referred to “empathy” as “Biden’s superpower.”
In a heated exchange with FOX News reporter Peter Doocy, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre recently claimed that Biden reacted to the Maui wildfires “in record time.”
“If you were to do your reporting and speak to the governor of Hawaii, the senators of Hawaii, the folks on the ground, they would say that the president reacted in record time when it came to dealing with the wildfires,” she said during the late August press conference.
As CatholicVote noted at the time, “Hawaii Gov. Josh Green and both of its U.S. Senators – Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono – are Democrats.”
Again, from CatholicVote’s August 31 reporting:
Biden provoked considerable backlash when he smilingly offered “no comment” in response to a reporter asking him about the deadly wildfire just after the tragedy first struck.
When Biden toured the devastation in Hawaii nearly two weeks after the city of Lahaina burned to the ground, locals were caught on video chanting “f*** Joe Biden” as he walked down a street. “Here he comes after 13 days,” one person said as the president passed by. Another commented: “Wow, he’s finally here. Wow, yeah, thanks for nothing.”