FEMA Recommendations Overruled By Bush

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Hurricane Katrina, Legislation

Just read this from The Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. [...]

Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.

Key phrase from above: “under his interpretation of the Constitution…”

His reason?

The law, Bush wrote, “purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the president may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office.”

Yeah, like running horse associations. I mean, let’s face it, regardless of whether or not Michael Brown was made into an scapegoat unfairly, the bottom line is that he did not have the qualifications to head FEMA. He just didn’t. Bush hired a crony and this bill was attempting to make sure that didn’t happen again…or at least it was making sure it would be a minimally qualified crony.

Also, FEMA is, for all intents and purposes, an unmitigated disaster right now. New rules and limits need to be put in place. And yet, if anybody tries to take even the slightest bit of power out of this President’s hands, he balks.

And one last thing, that should make everybody shudder since one of the biggest reasons the FEMA response was so poor is because it had to go “up the chain.”

But Bush’s signing statement challenged at least three-dozen laws specified in the bill. Among those he targeted is a provision that empowers the FEMA director to tell Congress about the nation’s emergency management needs without White House permission. This law, Bush said, “purports . . . to limit supervision of an executive branch official in the provision of advice to the Congress.” Despite the law, he said, the FEMA director would be required to get clearance from the White House before telling lawmakers anything.


This entry was posted on Friday, October 6th, 2006 and is filed under Hurricane Katrina, Legislation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “FEMA Recommendations Overruled By Bush”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    And before someone says “but Clinton did it too”:

    “In all, Bush has challenged more than 800 laws enacted since he took office, most of which he said intruded on his constitutional powers as president and commander in chief. By contrast, all previous presidents challenged a combined total of about 600 laws.

  2. Jim S Says:

    In addition not all of Clinton’s signing statements were challenges to the law. Often it was a statement supporting the law. There’s a web site that has the text of the laws and the signing statements and I read quite a few of them from Bush and Clinton. Almost all of Bush’s signing statements were like this one. I didn’t find one of Clinton’s that read like it.

  3. rachel Says:

    And need I mention that under Clinton, FEMA was actually able to do its job?

  4. ES Says:

    This is something I do not understand – if there was a need to place a warm body in the office of FEMA director, then there are plenty of people with emergency management experience who are Republicans. Granted the person chosen for the job needs some real strong managerial skills, but the job also requires someone with the “nuts and bolts” knowledge of what emergency responders, government agencies, and NGOs do when a disaster hits.

    One of my complaints with the modern GOP is their stand to “cut” government to its most basic components but they revert to a medieval mentality to give government jobs to toadies and sycophants when they assume power.

  5. SilverSeraphim Says:

    Hey, Jim S, where’s that website? I think I could get some mileage out of it…

  6. Richard Says:

    Yes, Jim. We’d like to see that Web site, too.

    The issue here is not just an efficient FEMA. It’s separation of powers and how Dubya is using signing statements to convert the U.S. presidency into a dictatorship. Interestingly, although Senate Majority Leader Arlen Specter has acquiesced to Bush’s torture and domestic-spying programs, there’s a turf war going on between the administration and the Senate over these signing statements — I guess about who has the jurisdiction to violate our civil liberties.

    By the way, ES, “medieval� also aptly describes the type of jurisprudence that involves incarcerating people in Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons abroad without dues process, and torturing people. Signing statements are integral to that program, too.

  7. Jim S Says:

    Sorry, the site only has the statements themselves, not the text of the law but that should be easily findable. The link is:


  8. SilverSeraphim Says:

    Thanks, Jim!

  9. Mike The Actuary’s Musings » Signing Statement Used to Nullify Qualification Requirements for FEMA Post Says:

    [...] Donklephant reminds us that the President still loves to add caveats to almost every bill he signs into law. [...]

Leave a Reply


You must ALWAYS fill in the two word CAPTCHA below to submit a comment. And if this is your first time commenting on Donklephant, it will be held in a moderation queue for approval. Please don't resubmit the same comment a couple times. We'll get around to moderating it soon enough.

Also, sometimes even if you've commented before, it may still get placed in a moderation queue and/or sent to the spam folder. If it's just in moderation queue, it'll be published, but it may be deleted if it lands in the spam folder. My apologies if this happens but there are some keywords that push it into the spam folder.

One last note, we will not tolerate comments that disparage people based on age, sex, handicap, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. We reserve the right to delete these comments and ban the people who make them from ever commenting here again.

Thanks for understanding and have a pleasurable commenting experience.

Related Posts: