By: Tony Kinnett, The Daily Signal
House Republicans have launched a probe into the Biden administration’s controversial response to the Maui fires in August.
House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., announced the investigation into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s handling of the situation on Friday. Comer announced the probe in a joint press release with Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who heads the subcommittee on government operations and the federal workforce.
Hawaii locals have criticized the administration’s response to the wildfires on many fronts, including the timing of the disaster response, the measure of aid given to those who were affected by the fires, and the lack of transparency from FEMA as questions piled up before and after recovery efforts began.
Maui locals who began local aid operations during the fires told The Daily Signal that FEMA was “nowhere to be found” for days after the fires subsided, though Hawaii Gov. Josh Green claimed that FEMA was on the ground “in six hours.”
“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,” Comer and Sessions said in the press release.
President [Joe] Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most. To ensure locals are receiving the assistance they need, and taxpayer dollars [are] 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. 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 into FEMA’s response to the Maui fires is not the first time the agency has faced scrutiny. The subcommittee on government operations and the federal workforce focused on FEMA’s disaster response in Fort Myers, Florida, in a recent hearing.
The hearing aimed to shed light on the challenges FEMA faced in providing timely and efficient assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Ian in September 2022. The Fort Myers recovery effort highlighted the need for a comprehensive review of FEMA’s procedures and protocols.
Comer, Sessions, and other Oversight Committee Republicans have written a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell seeking official details concerning the scope of FEMA’s recent responses that have, so far, been unavailable to the public—including demanding to know whether FEMA staff were housed in expensive resort hotel rooms during their stay on Maui.
The Daily Signal team on the ground in Maui observed federally-marked vehicles in the parking lots and garages at hotels like the Grand Wailea, which charges close to $1,000 per night. A Daily Mail report confirmed that FEMA officials stayed in three five-star resorts during their stay in Maui, while National Guardsmen were housed in the cheaper Westin hotel in Lahaina.