House Oversight Launches Investigation Into FEMA’s Response to Maui Wildfire

Originally published September 15, 2023 2:00 pm PDT

Following the catastrophic wildfires that ravaged Lahaina, Hawaii, leading figures from the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are launching an inquiry into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to the disaster.

Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) have joined forces with several members of the Oversight Committee in this endeavor.

They’ve directly reached out to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell by dispatching a letter.

The letter emphasizes concerns stemming from FEMA’s perceived inadequacies during hurricane recovery operations in Ft. Myers, Florida, and seeks to clarify the measures FEMA is currently implementing in Hawaii to sidestep analogous issues.

In a joint statement, Chairman James Comer and Subcommittee Chair Pete Sessions expressed their concerns, stating, “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.”

They went on to critique the current administration’s handling of the disaster, declaring, “President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most.”

To guarantee that the afflicted communities in Hawaii are receiving necessary aid, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee is actively engaging with FEMA.

They emphasized their mission in the statement: “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.”

Furthermore, they insisted on their obligation to the public, remarking, “The Oversight Committee has a responsibility to ensure FEMA is utilizing every tool at their disposal efficiently and will work to ensure FEMA delivers assistance in a seamless, swift timeframe.”

This probe by the House Oversight Committee comes on the heels of a hearing held on August 10 by the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce.

The hearing scrutinized the federal disaster recovery response to Hurricane Ian that impacted southwest Florida in September 2022.

“FEMA’s disaster response in Florida was hindered and delayed, making it difficult for communities to receive quick assistance they needed,” highlighted the details of the Ft. Myers hearing.