As we wait for Hurricane Florence to hit the east coast, Sen. Jeff Markley revealed that the Trump Administration raided the FEMA budget to pay to incarcerate children. Nearly $10 million was transfered from FEMA to ICE to pay for detention camps.
Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” that the administration is taking money from “response and recovery” and “working hard to find funds for additional detention camps.”
FEMA has countered that the money specifically was taken from the agency’s budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work, and not from the rescue and recovery budget.
“I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on … addressing the challenges from hurricanes,” Merkley said.
You be the judge.
CNN received a copy of theÂ documentÂ from Merkley’s office. It details the effects the transfer would have on FEMA’s operations and from where in the budget the money would come.
“FEMA will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program,” the document reads.
It still sounds like weakening FEMA, which was pathetic enough already, to pay for ICE.
And The Creature actually tweeted this morning,
We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2018
Literally nobody is giving Trump A Pluses for Texas and Florida, and the only reason Puerto Rico wasn’t Trump’s Katrina on steroids is that the networks couldn’t or wouldn’t do the same kind of real-time, up-close coverage they did in New Orleans.
Last month the Houston Chronicle reported on Harvey recovery in Texas.
Itâ€™s been nearly a year since Hurricane Harvey ravaged the region and for many the road to recovery appears to be mostly complete. They are back in their homes and upended lives are now mostly righted.
Then there are the others: the overlooked, the still-displaced, those who have been thrown into financial peril. They now suffer from unexplained medical problems, probably the legacy of slogging through contaminated floodwaters. Others battle with an anxiety that does not ease.
As the anniversary approaches, donâ€™t tell them Hurricane Harvey is past.
As with most things in America, upscale areas were put right quickly while the poor and vulnerable were left to rot.
Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said their financial situation is worse, and 1 in 6 report their overall quality of life has gone down.
Four in 10 also said they are not getting the help they need to recover and rebuild their lives. Their biggest needs are housing, finances and help navigating the different assistance systems.
Not an A Plus. D plus, maybe. But Puerto Rico definitely is an F. Richard Wolffe:
After almost 3,000 civilians died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 there were multiple hearings, investigations, reports and commissions. Everything from airport security to national security changed. But after a similar number of civilians died in Puerto Rico, there have been only two hearings with the Federal Emergency Management Agencyâ€™s (Fema) administrator.
Thatâ€™s in spite of the multiple contracting debacles by Fema that we already know about. There was the $156m food contract that went toÂ an Atlanta contractorÂ with a single employee, whose track record was so bad that the company was supposedly barred from getting new government cash. That contractor handed the job to a wedding caterer, who unsurprisingly couldnâ€™t handle the work.
Fema wroteÂ anÂ additional $30mÂ contractÂ for half a million tarps to protect people from the rain, but the tarps never arrived because the two brothers running the newly-formed company had no idea how to source them. That represented a third of Femaâ€™s spending on tarps at the time.
In one hearing, Fema administrator Brock Long said those bungled contracts were just a handful among many thousands of good ones. Perhaps heâ€™ll use the same excuse to respond toÂ the recent reportÂ from the Government Accountability office, that found that more than half of Femaâ€™s employees were unqualified to do their job after Maria. The agency also couldnâ€™t find enough Spanish speakers to help out. We donâ€™t know how many more Fema scandals there are because the GOP leadership in Congress refuses to investigate further.
So maybe taking nearly $10 million from FEMA doesn’t matter, because they probably would have pissed it off anyway.
Wolff also notes that the Red Cross spent less than half of the money it raised for Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico, and somehow managed to piss off a lot of what it did spend. I absolute do not ever give money to the Red Cross any more.
Finally, yesterday we learned another sad statistic — that FEMA received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance related to Hurricane Maria and approved only 75 of them. Maybe we should just abolish ICE and hand out all the money saved in the budget to the people of Puerto Rico. Not the government, directly to the people. With a letter of apology.