Following Hurricane Katrina, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held 24 hearings, interviewed 400 people, and reviewed 838,000 pages of documents. The result was a detailed report and comprehensive legislation, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, which became law in October.

That Act brought about sweeping changes to FEMA. It raised FEMA’s visibility, protected its status and budget within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), gave its Administrator a direct channel to the President, restored the linkage between preparedness and response, strengthened its regional presence, and established multi-agency strike teams to promote rapid and effective action. Our legislation explicitly defined FEMA’s mission as all-hazards, whether natural or man-made, and invoked the full panoply of emergency-management functions – preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.

It has been recently suggested that FEMA be removed from DHS. I am simply baffled that there are those who are proposing that FEMA -- the new, improved, strengthened FEMA -- be moved out of DHS. Congress has already investigated this suggestion last year, we concluded -- overwhelmingly -- that removing FEMA was the wrong decision for the nation. The shortsighted decision would inevitably require that DHS create a duplicate agency to respond to terrorist attacks. I simply have no idea of what prompted the renewal of this debate.