tv FEMA Administrator Long Testifies on Disaster Response CSPAN December 2, 2018 10:38am-12:53pm EST
birth rates among native born americans, immigration is a driving factor, not just as a discrete matter of immigration policy but in terms of human capital. the character of our school and future workforce. it is an important issue touching on many factors. announcer: watch this weekend on c-span book tv. the head of the federal emergency management eight is a gave lawmakers an update on fema's response to recent natural disasters including california wildfires and hurricanes hitting the southeastern u.s.. this oversight committee is a little over two hours.
mr. chairman. i know you haven't gaveled us. if you gavel us, i'd like to address the chair for one second. are you going to gavel us to i can address the chair for one second? i thank the chair. mr. chairman, unfortunately i'm going to have to go to the democratic organizational meeting which will run certainly all morning. as you know, we had an all-day organizational meeting yesterday. i regret we have a hearing in the middlele of that. i know you indicated yesterday, empty chairs should not be misconstrued. but i have a solemn obligation
to elect the next leadership of this body. unfortunately that conflicts with this hearing. this means no disrespect to our witnesses and certainly to the topic. as the chairman knows and the ranking member knows, i don't like to miss hearings of any kind. i regret unfortunately i am going to have to leave. i will insert a statement for the record and thank the chair. mr. gowdy: there's really never a good time to have leadership races. given the seriousness of this subject matter and the fact that we've had to reschedule it multiple times in the past, no witness should take from the absence of any member that they're not interested. it's just a tough time of the year to try to fit everything in. so, we'll do the best we can and take people in the order in which they come. with that, the committee on oversight and government reform will come to order. without objection, the presiding members are authorized to declare recess at any time. i am going to recognize my friend and my classmate and soon
to be departing member of congress from the great state of florida, mr. dennis ross, for an opening statement. mr. ross: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank you for holding this hearing today. a little over a year ago hurricanes irma and maria hit the united states, combined with hurricane harvey and the fires in california. these back-to-back disasters were unprecedented. a year ago i had the opportunity to join noaa in hurricane hunter and fly through a storm. i spent four hours in the middle of a category 5 hurricane irma and i learned very much how devastating and destructive these natural disasters can be. and i also learned how to strengthen my faith. the committee's meeting today to review the 2017 hurricane season and more importantly at this stage to discuss how federal agencies are applying lessons learned so our country is better prepared for major national -- natural disasters in the future. fema estimates that nearly 10% of the entire u.s. population was affected by the storms last year. and the agency approved more
than 1.6 million applications for assistance, including more than 777,000 applications in my home state of florida. over the past year, federal officials, territories, state and local governments and countless nonprofits have endeavored to repair roads, remove debris, restore power and rebuild communities. the human toll is incalculable. we cannot discount the fact that for many families who lost homes and loved ones, life will never be the same. still, disasters are a reality of the world we live in. we know eventually the united states will face another catastrophic storm or natural disaster. that's why advanced planning, something we don't do too well here, but yet is necessary. informed by lessons learned from previous disasters is critically important. disaster response and recovery programs can be complicated, in many cases there are no easy solutions. some challenges continue to recur because natural disasters tend to effect the local housing supply. but fema has a wealth of knowledge to draw on as it continues to implement much-needed reforms. this committee, congress in general, g.a.o. and various industry and oversight groups have made numerous observations
and recommendations about how to improve federal disaster response and recovery. fema itself issued an after-action report earlier this summer. the hearing today will provide an opportunity to discuss some of these potential reforms. one of the primary issues the agency has faced for many years, though, is staffing. quite simply, fema's past and present leadership has not taken adequate steps to address a systemic lack of appropriately trained and qualified staff. because many of these employees are on the front lines assisting individual disaster survivors and state and local government officials, it is imperative that fema deploy knowledgeable staff. one of the administrator long's strenal goals for fema is to reduce the complexity in order to support outcome-based recovery. i laud you on that goal and hope we're able to achieve that. but that cannot happen until fema ensures its work force is
ready for the job at hand. at the same time i want to emphasize that response and recovery is not fema's task alone. and our federalist system of government, the federal bureaucracy cannot and should not run disaster response and recovery single-handedly. states, territories and local governments need to have their own plans in place and take steps to prepare their communities. in a resiliency is very, very important. we can prepare for resiliency. last year we saw the consequences of unpreparedness and lack of planning. we cannot afford to make the same mistake again. fema, the u.s. army corps of engineers and other federal agencies and governments at all levels across the country must take this opportunity to reflect, apply lessons learned and ensure our nation is better prepared for future disasters. tomorrow the 2018 atlantic hurricane season will finally come to a close. in light of the storms that affected the united states this year, this hearing is particularly timely because congress needs to hear from fema and the corps about how their efforts this year were informed by lessons learned from last year. with that, i yield back. mr. gowdy: the gentleman yields the gentleman from maryland is
recognized for an opening statement. mr. cummings: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing. last year after devastating hurricanes slammed into puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands, president trump repeatedly touted his administration's response as, "unbelievable, amazing and incredible." unfortunately the facts on the ground felt just the opposite. the trump administration completely botched massive -- a massive $156 million contract to deliver 30 million emergency meals in the aftermath of the storm. they ignored one of the key lessons from hurricane katrina.
setting up advanced contracts for emergency provisions. instead they rushed to give this huge contract to a tiny, one person company with a terrible and obvious history of failing much smaller contracts. predictably they had to cancel the contract. all while thousands of starving american citizens were in desperate need of food. my staff uncovered this issue with absolutely no help from fema or the department of homeland security or the white house. despite our multiple letters requesting documents, to explain this massive screw-up, we have not received one document
regarding this issue. the trump administration also completely failed to respond to desperate pleas for help from grocery stores that needed fuel to keep their food from spoiling. including tons of produce, dairy and other perishables. my staff have seen documents showing that wal-mart, explaining repeatedly that their grocery stores, had generators in place, but they needed emergency fuel to keep the food from spoiling. puerto rican officials communicated these concerns directly to fema, in person and in writing. but by september 27, a full week after the hurricane, no fuel was provided.
again, the trump administration has refused to provide any of the documents we requested regarding this massive, and i mean massive, failure. nearly 3,000 people died. 3,000 people died in this tragedy. more than in hurricane katrina. but rather than recognizing any failings by his own administration, president trump accused democrats of somehow manufacturing the death count. he tweeted, and i quote, this was done by the democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible. end of quote. today i am releasing additional documents that also contradict president trump's claims about his administration's response.
specifically i am releasing an email sent on november 29, 2017. 70 days after the hurricane struck. the email was sent to mike byrne, the top fema official overseeing response in puerto rico. the senator's name is redacted. but it is from someone on the ground in puerto rico. this email warns that the
conditions remain dire and, "with limited to no communications," and that, "gas lines are in excess of six hours at times due to inconsistent delivery." the email concludes this. and i quote. "mr. byrne, we need help. more than two months following hurricane michael -- hurricane maria. we are watching our local electric crews struggle to repair the system with no equipment and no material. we are hearing estimates that we will be one year without regular power. why?" end of quote. we can do better than this. the email was provided to a congressional office and directly to fema administrator brock long. the forwarding email stated, and i quote, "here's another example. i know that you have had a rough time in houston. but at least you had competent
people in charge of the response. we have incompetent people in charge here. and are getting no response for our urgent needs. first of all, restoration of power. please share this with representative mccaul, along with our urgent request for the committee on homeland security to convene hearings on the utter failure of the federal response here and on the main island of puerto rico." end of quote. we have no record of whether administrator long responded to this email. instead, we have press reports and inspector general findings that administrator long abused his position of trust. as the head of fema, and charged the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for his personal use of government vehicles. which included a trip to hawaii, where a government employee shuttled his family around the island.
unfortunately and regrettably this committee has failed the american people as well. in the immediate days after the hurricane, i asked the chairman to follow the bipartisan example of our former chairman, representative tom davis, a republican, who investigated the bush administration's response to hurricane katrina. i asked him to send the same letters that chairman davis sent to federal agencies and to the white house. chairman davis obtained more than 22,000 pages of documents from the bush white house. he also obtained a briefing from a the top white house official in charge of the response. in contrast, chairman gowdy would not even send a letter to the white house. he would not ask for a single
document. and we have not received a single document. this committee walled off the white house from scrutiny. at the same time that president trump was claiming that up is down and down is up. i greatly respect the chairman as a person, as an attorney and as a friend. but this is not transparency. this is not accountability. and this is certainly not oversight. so with, that let me take care of a few housekeeping matters and ask unanimous consent on several motions. first, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record all of our letters regarding the botched $166 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to people of puerto rico. mr. gowdy: without objection. mr. cummings: thank you, mr. chairman. i also ask unanimous consent to enter into the record all of our
letters regarding the trump administration's failure to respond to urgent pleas from grocery stores, to obtain fuel to run generators, to prevent food spoilage. mr. gowdy: without objection. mr. cummings: thank you. in addition, i ask unanimous consent that the new emails i'm releasing today, that were sent to administrator long, be entered into the hearing record. mr. gowdy: without objection. mr. cummings: next, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record this excellent report that our staff compiled based on our own independent investigation of the trump administration failures. mr. gowdy: without objection. mr. cummings: finally, i want to make clear that the democrats asked for this hearing back on september 29, 2017. more than a year ago. i ask unanimous consent that the letter from me and ranking
member plaskett be entered into the record. mr. gowdy: without objection. mr. cummings: unfortunately, despite our requests, the committee held no hearings on the hurricanes in the past 14 months. instead this hearing was scheduled for today, which is the same day that we as democrats have to be up and down in the longworth building, organizing our entire caucus, and voting on leadership positions and establishing our rules for the next congress. our republican colleagues have promised to accommodate us and i appreciate it. but they would not move the hearing to a different day and they would not even move up the start time by 30 minutes so we could ask administrator long our questions. so here's what i will do. i will take the questions we wanted to ask and submit them as official questions for the record.
administrator long, i want answers to every one of these questions before the end of the year. when disaster strikes, the american people do not want politics. they simply want results. they do not want posturing. they want leadership. they do not want excuses. they want a nonpartisan, effective and efficient response that saves lives. i guarantee you, administrator long, this hearing will not be your last before this committee. we want full compliance with every one of our previous requests. so, mr. chairman, i thank you and i ask unanimous consent that congressman sablan, gutierrez and velazquez be a part of this hearing.
mr. gowdy: without objection. we're pleased to welcome -- the gentleman yields back the we're pleased to welcome our witnesses. the honorable william b. brock long, administrator for the federal emergency management agency, major general scott spellman, deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations for the u.s. army corps of engineers. and dr. lynn goldman, the michael and lori and the miliken dean at the institute school of public health, george washington university. i will ask you to stand and raise you right hand. may the record reflect the
witnesses answered in the affirmative. you may take your seat. there's a lighting system that i'm sure you're familiar with, to guide you. you have five minutes for your opening statement. just understand that your entire opening statement is part of the record and members will read it. so to the extent you're able to do so, please limit your opening statement to five minutes. with, that administrator long. mr. long: chairman gowdy, ranking member cummings, distinguished members of the committee. i'm here in the spirit of improvement. i'm here to discuss the way forward that fema is moving, as well as not just fema, but also the entire field of emergency management. i think it's important for me to tell you what a successful response and recovery looks like. because it involves a partnership. it involves the whole community. it's a lot more than just fema. if anybody's expecting that it's just fema who comes in and does the response and the recovery, they're mistaken. emergency management is like a chair that's supported with four legs. one leg is the federal government. the second leg is the state and local governments. the third leg is the private sector and nongovernmental organizations. and the fourth leg is a prepared citizenry that's properly insured and it involves neighbor helping neighbor.
when all four legs of those -- to that that chair are present, then disaster response and recovery goes pretty well. we've seen that model take place in california, where, as congressman ross said in florida. we've seen it take place in a lot of the communities and that's the common denominator for the formula's success. going into puerto rico,resent unfortunately. and now i'm working every day to make sure that all four of those legs are a part of that chair. because if one leg is missing, that chair becomes less stable. and we've got to do everything that we can to bolster state and local capability, private sector capability, and incorporate them into meaningful fashion into our plans. that's what i'm doing. i'd also like to talk about the magnitude of the recent disasters and what my staff has been diligently working on and pushing forward. they're tremendous individuals and they bust their rear ends for americans every single day and i'm proud of them. let's talk about the magnitude of this. we have 514 open disasters across half this globe, from the
mariana islands all the way to the virgin islands. we've seen six major landfall and hurricanes, five of the most historic wildfires in the last 15 months. that's on top of 75 declared total disasters last year. 68 this year. and we've also provided support to 113 wildfires. my staff has been busting their rear ends to help others. the average deployment of my staff is 136 days as they go out to take care of people and try to put people's lives back together. and i think that that should be recognized. i really do. this agency is doing everything that it can to push forward, to help people before, during and after disasters. but it goes back to what is a partnership in the whole community. lessons learned. we need to do a lot of work with the private sector to understand survivalable communications. we need to do everything we can to bolster state and local capability, but it's state legislators stepping up and funding their agencies properly and establishing rainy day funds, it's state and local governments that need to
establish contracts to do commodities. we were able to mobilize over $2 billion worth of commodities to puerto rico specifically as a result of hurricane maria. the issue is not getting food, water and resources to puerto rico. the issue is one of not being able to communicate whether where those should go. the problem we have to fix. that is our after-action report is an open and honest assessment of the mistakes that were made and what we need to overcome and i would ask people to take that into consideration. what are we doing? we've put together a whole community plan. a strategic plan that involves the whole community. we got 2,300 comments back from our constituents. and we arrived at three simple but very ambitious goals. create a true culture of preparedness that does not exist in this country. people are underinsured. people can't put their hands on $500 to buy the insurance. which makes fema's role greater and increasing exponentially. we have put forward more individual assistance in the last 16 months than the agency has done in the 10 years previous combined. we actually have responded and
put more assistanced for in the last 16 months than the agency did in the last 38 years combined. 38 years of impact into the last 16 months and my agency never gets enough credit for it. i'm asking for your help. because laws need to change on the way we do disaster recovery housing. we need to have oversight and accountability not only of fema, but also of what's going on at the state and local level. there's nine states that don't have a rainy day fund in this country. what are we doing about it to make sure that they have their own baseline capability to handle disasters? if you're expecting fema to be the only responder and first responder for all these events, then you're going to have to quadruple my budget and increase my staffing patterns tremendously. i don't think that's the way forward. i don't think that a bigger fema is the answer here. so i'm here today humbly to talk about the way forward, place blame on me all you want. that's fine. i can take it. but that's not going to be the answer to solving the problems
of the future. and what i'm asking for is a diplomatic opportunity to do so. and i need your support to do it. i'm happy to provide all the information you need or all the ideas to do this right. thank you. mr. gowdy: leader general spellman. mr. spellman: thank you. and good morning, chairman gowdy, ranking member cummings and distinguished members of the committee. i'm honored to testify before you today to discuss the u.s. authorities and response -- the authorities and responsibility of the u.s. army corps of engineers. our lessoned learned from the 2017 storm season and actions we , have taken to improve our performance during this last 2018 season. my name is major general scott .pellmon i been in position since june in this year. this, i served as the commander for the northwest division. the krp conducts its activities under two basic authorities. the stafford act and public law
8499. under the stafford act and the national response framework, the corps works under the direction of fema, serving as a lead federal coordinating agency for emergency support function number three, which is public works and engineering. public law 8499 provides a separate source of authority for the corps to prepare for and respond to floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. under these authorities, the corps maintains 50 specially trained response teams supported by emergency and preawarded contracts to perform a wide array of public works and engineering missions. the 2017 hurricane season was historic in its scale and we continue to identify and apply lessoned learned to sustain and improve our performance. the extraordinary impacts of hurricanes harvey, irma and maria resulted in an unprecedented response. for hurricane harvey, 14ds2 million of mission assignments. nearly 1,000 corps personnel deployed and 15 employees remain
engaged today supporting six active recovery mission assignments. in response to hurricanes irma and maria, fema issued assignments totaling $4.1 billion for puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. we again deployed thousands of personnel and over 200 employees remain engaged today executing those recovery operations. additionally we received 32 mission assignments for the states of florida and georgia, totaling about $131 million. detailed in my written testimony, these mission assignments encompassed a range of activities, including the removal of debris, installation generators to provide emergency power and construction of , temporary blue roofs which enable impacted residents to move out of emergency shelters and back into their homes. also in response to hurricane irma and maria, the corps was tasked to assist and repair segments of the puerto rico power grid. a collaboration of responders, including the corps, other federal agencies, utility industry and a puerto rico electric power authority have
now restored power to all pre-storm customers either through grid power or other long-term solutions. including these three major hurricanes, the corps responded to a total of 32 events in 2017. among these other events were the october, 2017, wildfires in northern california. the central u.s. blizzard. the big horn river ice jam in wyoming. and numerous other flooding and severe weather events. the bipartisan budget act of 2018 appropriated over $17.4 billion for the corps to accomplish three broad tasks. prepare and rehabilitate existing projects across the nation, to construct new, flood and storm damage reduction projects, and to complete flood and coastal reduction studies. we identified over 250 project studies that will receive these funds and we're working as quickly as possible to complete these projects. we also applied the lessons learned and best practices from 2017 in our preparation for and
execution of the 2018 season. we completed several hurricane exercises along with our federal partners for the gulf and east coast, the mississippi river valley, as well as for other -- puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. we participated in fema's 2018 intergovernmental and private sector national level exercise, and we have updated our hurricane plans, annexes and standard operating procedures. we've also worked with fema to update and refine 34 pre-scripted mission assignments which speed the pace of our project delivery. these actions have enabled improved performance in the 28 disasters we have respond to in 2018 to date. in addition to our involvement in these and future response and recovery missions the corps , remains fully committed, focused and capable of executing our other civil works activities across the nation. ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my testimony and i look forward to any questions you may have. mr. gowdy: thank you. dr. goldman. ms. goldman: thank you so much, chairman gowdy.
ranking member cummings. it's an honor to testify today for this hearing. as you know, i'm the dean of the miliken institute school of public health at the george washington university and we conducted a recent study about the excess mortality in puerto rico from hurricane maria. i submit for the record my full testimony, as well as the executive summary of our reports for puerto rico. using sophisticated models that account for migration, annual and seasonal deaths rates and adjustments for demographics like age, sex, and social class, we found that there were 2,975 excess lives lost due to hurricane maria for the six-month study period of september, 2017, through february, 2018. all regions in puerto rico were affected but those living in municipalities with the lowest socioeconomic development, older adults especially males, experienced the greatest risk of excess mortality.
the two highest risk groups continued to have excess mortality through february, 2018. like all the u.s., the physicians in puerto rico do not have the correct items to complete death certificates to relate deaths to hurricanes and other natural disasters. but we didn't find that the hurricane affected the quality or the completeness of the death certificates, although it did create some delays in some of the records. we did find, in our study, that puerto rico lacked adequate plans and staffing for crisis and emergency risk communication, and, likewise, that communities on puerto rico were not adequately prepared for a catastrophic hurricane. what we learned is that people felt that they were prepared for a category 1 or a 2 storm, but not for a 4 or 5 storm. regarding hurricane-related mortality, there was inconsistent information provided to the public by the
government of puerto rico, as well as information gaps. this may have been the result of delays in information exchanged, because there were telecommunication failures, inconsistent disaster spokesperson training, no protocol for interagency coordination of mortality reporting, and ineffective strategies for rumor control. clearly, puerto rico was quite vulnerable in terms of electrical and transportation systems that were not resilient and broke down for weeks to months after the storm. in many cases great exertions were required to provide basic needs like food, water, shelter and health care services. those involved in the response and recovery efforts, both in the federal government and in the government of puerto rico, appeared to us to be competent and capable. but the storm impacted all on puerto rico, including the responders, the doctors, everybody was impacted personally. none of the responders could
make up for the lack of prior planning and preparation. we have observed this problem again and again with other hurricanes as well, like katrina, ike, sandy, irma and even harvey when communities are not prepared, they cannot create a response on the fly. these problems did not evolve overnight. we need to change from a culture of disaster and response to a culture of preparedness and resilience. across coastal areas, we must take steps to protect medical facilities, make power grids more resilient, and make plans to evacuate people, especially the most vulnerable from the riskiest areas. individuals and communities need help to become more resilient and self-reliant for longer periods of time. they need to be prepared to do immediate rescue, all while the -- a la the so-called cajun navy in houston. we also can harness the capacity of the private sector and community organizations to
provide assistance, even before outsiders can arrive. outside help from fema, but also the public health service and the military, is needed to restore the basic functions of society after a major storm like maria. we plan to do more research about the impacts on puerto rico, to better understand the causes of excess lives lost and ways we can prevent such deaths in the future. to identify other health impacts like mortality, like morbidity and disability, and to find better ways to prepare the communities in puerto rico so they can work together in a coordinated fashion in the future. we would like to see improvements in federal guidelines and training for death certification, as well as strengthening of public health systems. finally, although we do not yet know the precise causes of all the excess lives lost, it is clear that all efforts need to target resources to the elderly and those in lower income areas, both immediately after a major hurricane, and in the months to follow.
thank you so much. mr. gowdy: thank you, dr. goldman. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. >> mr. chairman, i yield my time to mr. cloud from texas. mr. cloud: thank you, mr. massie. thank you for holding this committee meeting. certainly an important topic. i have the honor of representing the 13 counties along the texas gulf coast, going from bay city down to the county which includes corpus christi. of course as you know, hurricane harvey made landfall in my district at rockport, texas. i do want to thank you, first of all, for the work that you've been doing to to help us recover. over the last two months, a number of grants have come through and it's really helping our district recover. of course each disaster affords us the opportunity to evaluate and that's what this is about. i appreciate your comments at
the beginning. even in being proactive in a number of things. i wanted to kind of say what i've been hearing as i've traveled the district. of course the topics are broad. i have tried to put them into three buckets that seem to be reoccurring. of course each of them are interconnected and related. but housing has been an issue. staffing with fema has been an issue. and then seemingly wasteful and complicated processes. i know that you're working internally to see what you can do about that. i'm also interested to hear what you're doing internally, but also what we need to do as a legislative body to reform stafford and free up your hands to do what needs to be done. i also recognize that this is a team effort. it requires communities being involved. i think one of the successes we have seen while the process of recovery is ongoing in texas has been the initiative that the people of texas and communities and people across the country who have come and helped to
participate, neighbor helping neighbor, churches getting involved, communities being prepared and involved, certainly there's a lot to be learned. but we are on the way to recovery because of some of those initiatives. here's kind of what i hear when i'm touring and talking to people in our district. there is a lot to be learned. the processes are pretty complicated. and long. if i were to -- we had one school district map out the process. if we were to lay it out across the table, there would be 55 projects themselves they were trying to track. so they createsed a map of it. the process would fill up that table. it's that long. what happens oftentimes, what i've heard over and over a number of times, is you'll get to the end of the process and there will be, for example, a tree that's not supposed to be in the process.
so it gets kicked back to the beginning. by the time it gets back to the final part, the staff has changed. they are reevaluating using different parameters to evaluate. there's something else wrong with it. so it goes back to the beginning of the process and so this adds a lot of time, it add as lot of waste. both internally for fema and to the people trying to recover. i think it's important to remember that these people, as they're trying to recover, first of all, they already had a job. now they have the new job of trying to fix their own house. 80% to 90% of kids were considered homeless. so was the superinterent. her husband, who is the sheriff, was also homeless. the sheriff's department had been displaced. they're trying to learn the new full-time job of fema recovery in mastering these processes. that's the context that this is in. recurring staff was a big issue. i'm wondering, one of the other
issues that we heard when it came to housing, for example, was the issue of fema being able to share information with local governments. for example, fema goes in, they survey the area, they find out who the homeless were, local entities, county governments, state governments are trying to help solve the problem and could not get the information. they'd be asked, how many homeless people do we have? we don't know. we know fema knows but they can't or won't tell us. we know fema's designed to operate on a federalist model. what kind of information does fema share with local government entities? is there anything we need to do to make that process better? mr. long: thank you for the question. this could take a while to answer. let's just start with housing. i can't think of one disaster recovery housing mission in the history of fema that is lifted up as the gold standard.
here's the problem. i need more granting authority. not me. fema needs more granting authority to block grant funding down to a governor so that a governor can do housing the way he or she thinks that it would work best in his or her community. not how fema thinks it works best. we tried something novel and innovative in the state of texas with governor abbott and i applaud his bravery for stepping up and the general office for standing up. because just dragging in fema manufactured homes or travel trailers is incredibly expensive. there are studies that suggest that one trailer, by the time you buy it, haul it, install it, get the permitting for, it landlord over it for 18 months, then dispose of it properly, haul it off, could be anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000 for one manufactured home. why are we not being able to block grant that money directly to the citizens to do home construction, to keep them in their house directly? even if we set a limit, it was
something innovative, it didn't work as well as i had hoped it would work. but you know what? hit me for trying something different. we entered into this agreement and basically we were able to $60,000 to those homeowners that wanted to take that option to do that direct construction. imagine how much money we would save if we did that. we kept those folks in their house. we have to figure out more granting authority and becoming block granting agency to push the money down to the g.l.o. or to the governors to be able to do housing the way they want to do it. disaster recovery housing is broken because it is on my shoulders. there is no community effort. a governor like governor abbott has to follow my big bureaucratic recovery laws when it comes to doing housing, then it's never going to move that quick. help me. get rid of the complexity. that is goal number three in
harsh teacher plan. i can tell you how to do that. we are always looking to streamline. the other just -- the other problem with disaster recovery is there is this myth that fema is the only agency that does and provide disaster recovery dollars in a disaster. i believe that there's about 17 different agencies with money that comes down from a whole host of federal government. what we have never done is trained mayors, procurement officers, financial officers at the local level or emergency managers on true disaster cost recovery. fema has to graduate from this myth we're a licensed a agency. we're a disaster financial recovery managers. it's my job to come in and say, governor, here's what you are entitled to. here's how the money comes from all these different agencies, fema, h.u.d., s.b.a., whatever it is. here's how to use it to do the greatest good. there is not one computer model that i can provide anybody that says if you spend the money this way we will become resilient and never have to come back in your communities in texas to do this again because we have used this money correctly and factored in mitigation and did it right.
that's the problem. how do you streamline this? there is too much a time delay between fema's emergency housing and where h.u.d.'s funding can be used. it's complicated. it creates mistakes. it's far greater than fema streamlining its processes. how do we do this in a block grant format and allow governors to control their own destiny? take me out of the game. chair gowdy: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from maryland is recognized. mr. cummings: thank you very much, mr. chairman. administrator long, i have listened to you very carefully, first of all i want to clear up some things here. there is no one on this committee that does not fully appreciate what fema has done. we realize that fema has a tremendous burden on its hands, particularly with -- i know some
people don't believe in science, but with climate change and what we're seeing in this world and our nation. it's not so much -- i heard what you said. a lot of this is about you take -- we take the dollars that we have and then we use them effectively and efficiently. one of the things is we're committed here, waste, fraud, and abuse. i think you will agree with me that the issue that i raise about the meals, somebody did something wrong. that was a waste of our dollars. i want to come back -- i just want to make sure you don't get that confused. >> i would like an opportunity to answer a question. >> briefly because i have to vote.
administrator long: there is misinformation. fema paid for $50,000 worth meals from that vendor. and the bottom line is we put forward that $156 million limit $225,000. was a cap. we never wasted $156 million. we spent $225,000, if i remember correctly, for 50,000 meals. we canceled the contract because we put redundancy in our contracts. there is more than one food vendor. we have a multitude of contracts we have expanded. there is a lot of misinformation in the -- mr. cummings: i have questions on that i'll send to you. i want to ask you about some things that really concern me. george washington university released an independent study this summer that put the death count in puerto rico from hurricane maria at 2,975 american deaths. this is devastating and raises many questions. dr. goldman, coming back to you, sir, but dr. goldman, can you explain how your researchers
reached their conclusion, briefly? dr. goldman: briefly it was the statistical effort. it involved looking at the patterns of deaths over the 10 years prior to the storm. within that season of the year, adjusting for age and sex and the very sharp demographic changes that had been occurring on the island. to say in sum total there were 2,975 more than what had been expected in a year that did not have a hurricane. mr. cummings: a couple months ago our committee obtained alarming documents from the department of defense regarding the uncovering -- listen to this. the uncovering of mass graves in the immediate days after hurricane maria on september 29, 2017. one of these emails state, and i quote, we're finding mass graves in mudslide areas, end of quote.
later in this email chain it says, it is not clear if these mass graves were families or, quote, an entire town, unquote. administrator long, were you aware of these mass graves? administrator long: i am not aware of the mass graves, no. mr. cummings: did you or anyone else brief the president or the white house -- you never knew about them? administrator long: i'm not aware. mr. cummings: this the first time you heard of this? administrator long: i am not aware of any mass graves, no. mr. cummings: do you know how many people died? administrator long: let me be clear. one death is a death too many. this agency works every day to try to prevent loss of life and suffering after a disaster. bear with me. bottom line is these studies -- there is not a clear delineation between directs deaths. fema has to take the word of the local county coroner or medical
examiner to determine what the cause of death was. we're not outfitted to determine what the death cause was. for every disaster in the history of disasters, there are direct deaths of wind, water, whatever it may be, the elements of the disaster that kills somebody, and indirect deaths after the fact where people die in car wrecks because the stoplights are out, the power's not on. whatever it may be. they fall off their house trying to fix their roof. they have heart attacks trying to remove debris off their land. that's well documented. the bottom line is, what we have to do is have a very solid discussion, particularly around puerto rico, of how we prevent this from happening again. the single greatest factor for the formula of success going forward is power. who needs to be sitting here? prepa. when it comes to the v.a. case, i'll use your example as an example of why they need to be sitting here. you know who is providing power to v.a. case right now?
fema and the army corps of engineers, not prepa. what are they doing about it? are they prepared to rebuild a power grid for the future that is more resilient that helps all the infrastructure be strong, resilient, economically viable, or whatever it is, that's who needs to be sitting here and answering questions, because i have a very, very low confidence level that prepa is ready to rebuild the power grid to make sure that the infrastructure stands up so that people don't die a long time after the fact when the power's out. i don't know how many people died in puerto rico, but one death is a death too many. mr. cummings: i heard you. i'm going to get to you the information that i just talked about. i didn't know that you were unaware of it. about these mass graves. and i want you to -- then i'll have some questions for you on that. we also have another email chain showing that more than two months after hurricane maria, individuals on the puerto rican island of vieques were living in
dire conditions. you mentioned that. the email is a cry for help. listen to what they say. we have limited to no communications. we're unable to rebuild physical infrastructure. our gas lines are in excess of six hours at times due to inconsistent delivery. the email went to michael burn, who was fema's lead official in puerto rico. and then the same email was forwarded to you. administrator long, do you remember receiving this email when it came to you in november -- administrator long: it wasn't just that email. there were hundreds of emails very similar to that from them. mr. cummings: do you remember that one? administrator long: not that one specific. what i'm saying there were 400 emails a day coming to me on puerto rico in some cases. the bottom line is i'm aware of the problem. i go back to asking the question again. we're currently on the case.
we rebuilt temporary medical facilities and supplies. we're the ones running emergency power. the question this committee needs to ask is what is prepa's plan and the commonwealth plan to serve the citizens on vieques , not just fema's? i don't have the authority nor do i want the authority to do the permanent work to rebuild the power grid for the future. that is up to the commonwealth of puerto rico and to prepa. i'm here to tell you, if we want to prevent deaths in the future, if we want to make sure that the infrastructure is maintained, then i would strongly suggest that the committee call them to understand what their plan is going forward and how they are going to use billions of dollars of tax-paying money to rebuild the power grid and infrastructure for the future. if you recall, i had to ask for special authorities to fix all of the deferred maintenance of the infrastructure. i should have never been placed or fema should never have been placed in that situation to
begin with. that doesn't happen across the rest of the globe. hits fema, but going forward the real question if we truly care about what the future of puerto rico is. i'm telling you we have got to understand how the power authority is prepared or capable or even if they are even capable of rebuilding the grid and infrastructure that needs to be in place to be more resilient. mr. cummings: administrator long, let me be clear with you. what i'm saying to you is, i think we all are about being effective and efficient, sir. people died, and we are all -- like you said, one death is one too many. we're trying to figure out, just like you, how we deal with this
in a way where we can prevent that in the future. so that's why i'm getting into these questions. not trying to beat up on you. trying to figure out what happened so we can correct it. life is short. one last thing, mr. chairman, i know you have great indulgence. i have been asking fema about the email i just talked about for quite a while. we asked who sent it and what you did after receiving it. but we have received no response. do you know who sent the original email that i'm talking about? administrator long: i don't know. i got to the point where my email was being bombarded mostly by campaigns. i was receiving hundreds of emails a day to the point that it would actually block me from being able to get the operational emails i needed to receive.
that was the case. when it comes to the documentation request, please understand that i expect my staff to be very responsive when it comes to any inquiry this committee or any other would put forward. we have been through such a tremendous time in the last 50 months -- we're overwhelmed. >> you know what? sadly, sadly -- we're going to go through more difficult times. so all i'm saying to you is i would like to get the documentation and i promise you that we're going to -- we'll have you back in january and we can talk about this some more. the american people want us to solve their problems. and i know you want to do that, too. i have no doubt about that. and all i'm saying to you is that we need information to do our job. we're going to do -- we're going to look into this issue in a
attacksponsible way, not thing but trying to come up with solutions. >> i am here to help. trust me. thank you for your questions. we're here to help. chair gowdy: the gentleman from maryland yields back. the gentleman from florida is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director long, thank you for doing a thankless job. we know there are bureaucratic walls up there preventing you from doing what you know needs to be done. we want to help you. representative and wagner -- anne wagner had passed out a bill out of financial service committee which i also serve that would reform the cdbg housing block grants the way you have identified. hopefully we can get that to the house and senate and hopefully we can make it into law. that is such a crucial issue. since 2004 i have been intimately involved in disaster recovery relief and preparedness. when i chaired the house insurance committee in the state of florida in 2004 and 2006, we
had successive hurricanes come right through, in 60 days, come right through my county. we learned a lot. we also learned we can't solely rely on fema. i agree with you on your four legs of that stool. the state of florida, florida hurricane catastrophe fund, which is financed partly by premiums and also reinsurance instruments. there is a taxpayer backstop to it, but it's very far back there but also provides liquidity in order to provide funds, in order to rebuild, in order to pay the claims necessary. we also saw the private sector, for example public supermarkets, created warehousing in various regions in anticipation of storms where they had stored relief items. water, food, generators, things of that nature, so we could logistically distribute them in a quick way to get people back in. we saw louisiana as a result of katrina lose a congressional seat because of the devastating storms and you weren't prepared, we were not prepared to have them stay there. they lost more than their homes.
they lost a lifestyle. as well as their jobs. what i'm getting at is that you hit upon things where we as a congress should face reality that every year we're going to have natural disasters occur, yet we don't put it as a line item in our budgets. we don't appropriate and we have to go through a process where it took six months for hurricane irma relief to hit my state of florida which was way too late. in addition to that, we had things attached to that relief that probably were not even anywhere related to the hurricane. we should have the foresight to have a line item budget and also be able to cede some of that risk. one of the things i want to ask you about is risk transfer agreements. i have a bill out there called the disaster transfer act, dart act, it would allow fema, which you have done recently, to cede some of that liability to the private markets. the reinsurance markets right now have adequate capacity and can do that so that not only are you not having to come to us for disaster relief, but can you
immediately respond with liquidity and dollars in order to meet the need. i'd love for you to comment on our ability to be able to expand your capability to get that capacity. administrator long: i think reinsurance is the key to fixing a lot of problems, particularly the nfip, maybe the disaster relief fund. >> we're not in the business of being insurance. we are in the business of administering good lives and good business. we should allow those though do it best such as the insurance markets to provide that relief so that you have what's necessary to do your job. administrator long: can i also add one of the most expensive expenditures out of fema, the most expensive expenditure, this is crazy to me, it's actually a moral hazard in my opinion, we pay to fix uninsured public facilities and contents for cities who are self-insured. that's our most expensive expenditure. that is tax-paying dollars
rebuilding schools -- the private insurance industry i would argue would be willing to pick that up. and it would alleviate the amount of money that we have to put out and the amount of work that we have to put out in recovery. i think we save taxpayers also by the way during harvey about $1 billion in reinsurance on the national flood plain insurance program. mr. ross: risk management is something they do well. they manage that capital well to the benefit of the insured. the consumers. one other thing to touch base on is we saw as a result of hurricane andrew in the early 1990's and our other storms that we have the science to build resilient structures. that our housing stock that was lost was not built under the new building codes that the state of florida imposed. as a result we have some of the strongest structures available. we also created, but didn't fund it long enough, a mitigation program. we realize that for every $1 spent in mitigation we save $4 in relief.
what could you comment on how we can best -- i can't count on the federal government. we need our states and local governments. >> first of all, the key to resiliency, whether it's a changing climate or whatever it to reducingkey disaster impacts is local building codes, land use planning, zoning, and comprehensive mitigation strategies. what i'm thankful for is the disaster recovery reform act. for those of you that pushed that bill and voted for it it's transformational. it propels the funding to the forefront. i have been complaining since day one that disaster mitigation is a regressive process traditionally. now what you have done with the passage of that bill is it basically says 6% of all the disaster dollars we spend in any disaster year will be put up front and predisaster
mitigation. here's the thing, here's what i have to fix in every disaster. we come up with seven critical lifelines. when it comes to the infrastructure, we always have to make sure that power and fuel works, communications works. the hospitals work. so there is a whole multitude of things that have to work. why are we not collectively doing what we can to mitigate those seven critical lifelines so that we can get better and better and reduce the response in the future rather than continuing this business practice that we cannot afford to continue doing? if you want to save money to the taxpayer, i think that you have to form strong partnerships with the insurance industry and look at category public assistance and why is fema having to pay for and fix uninsured public properties and contents? i think you will save billions of dollars over the next decade if you start to take a look at that. what we have to do is we have to increase the cost share to make it more expensive to pay the
cost share for fixing your uninsured public facility than it would be to get and insurance plan. mr. ross: even though aim leaving congress, i tell you i will continue to be an advocate for strong investment in mitigation. thank you. chair gowdy: the gentleman from florida yields back. the gentlelady from the virgin islands is recognized. ms. plaskett: trying to pull myself together when i hear conversations like this. when you start off saying a lot of this should be the states right, states, or territories that you should increase insurance and you are concerned about paying cost share for insurance. this is the same body that underfunds the territories to begin with, that puts arbitrary caps on medicaid, puts arbitrary caps, defunds us in terms of the amount of funding that we receive in transportation costs in other areas, then when a disaster strikes and we're unable to meet those costs, it
becomes a question of why aren't we being responsible about our stuff? it drives me crazy. i'm just trying to pull myself together to ask the questions i know i'm supposed to ask of you that are related to the issue at hand. when congress is more concerned with imposing on the territories restrictions on cockfighting and roosters, but don't give a damn about the children or the seniors in those areas and their costs and needs and their rights, that just incenses me. that this body acts that way. mr. long, you said that there is concern about the cost shares. one of the questions i wanted to ask you was why fema has not decided to exercise its clear authority under the insular area acts to wave nonfederal cost share for public assistance permanent work in the virgin islands such as under category s which are the utility cost, that the insular areas act does authorize you to be able to do?
when you have areas like the territories that have been underfunded in these other areas, you know that there are budget issues that they have, and they are unable to meet those cost shares? administrator long: a large portion was funded 100%. right now, the cost shares at 90, and that is above and beyond. the question we have -- it's also my understanding that we're reviewing a request from the u.s. virgin islands right now to go through. we will methodically look at that and make the best decision we can. often when it comes to the offset of that 10% that they have to look at, there are ways of utilizing or counting for voluntary management organizations that have provided in kind match and also when the funding comes into play, a lot of that money can be used to offset the match as well. traditionally, when the president grants 100%, it's typically when there is still emergency work, like safety work, that takes place.
all this comes into account. not only that, but how much money does the virgin islands or puerto rico or texas, whatever -- ms. plaskett: what is the determinant of lifesaving work considering our mobile hospitals still are not up? our dialysis patients are -- how does that work? administrator long: fair question. two types of work we do. emergency work and permanent work. once we basically have come to a conclusion on the emergency work that's being done and we transition into the permanent work, that's where the cost share comes in. if there is not even the slightest bit of cost share -- from where i sit when there is a cost share involved, that means there is also skin in the game which helps us focus on what's the most important way of going forward in recovery. and that's just the truth. when it comes to how do you focus? if you have a little bit of money to put forward, it helps us to fine-tune what are the true goals of the virgin islands, florida, california, whatever it may be, any state
that's going through this to focus where they are. we're evaluating the cost share as we speak. we take this seriously. ms. plaskett: there was a g.a.o. report that talked about the disaster, i think in terms of housing recovery. that's been a major issue in the virgin islands with a number of homes that have been destroyed. army corps of engineers came in. the blue tarp was slow in its processing. they have now moved to in-house permanent sheltering in place. which is beginning to work. at what point will fema reconsider the use of disaster housing assistance program, dhap, like put in place after hurricane katrina, to respond to the needs of displaced households and factors or criteria will promote a change? administrator long: there is a misunderstanding about dhap. it was the traditional housing program we would use to help
some of those that were misplaced. after sandy occurred, the sandy improvement act gave fema new authorities to do direct lease. basically we have now been given the authority as result of going through sandy to do the same thing that dhap basically accomplishes. it's a duplicative program for the most part. in many cases if a person does not qualify for our housing assistance under the direct lease program, then most likely they are not also going to qualify for the dhap program. a lot of this is based around misinformation, but also more importantly new tools in my toolbox that you have provided to me from congress, which is good. ms. plaskett: some administrative things. i know my time has run out. i have, mr. chair, several statements from residents and other individuals of the virgin islands, observations on the federal response to maria in puerto rico submitted by jeffrey a. park, as well as statements
for the record from a resident of st. john. i ask those be submitted. chair gowdy: without objection. ms. plaskett: i wanted to know, mr. long, if you would get -- if i could receive the weekly recovery status reports that you have. do you have copies of that that my office can receive starting from in december? so could we get several months going back of those? there are some clear questions as to what are the projects that are most important that our governor has outlined. i do believe that you all have the best interest in mind. the shifting of blame between local government and federal government has got to end. people have got to man up and woman up and take responsibility for their shortcomings. i know that the g.a.o., you were willing to listen to what they said in terms with regard to you. i'd like our own local government to do that and see the people of the virgin islands to see where the gaps are. administrator long: yes, ma'am.
we'll be happy to provide the reports. chair gowdy: the gentlelady yields back. ms. plaskett: may i also submit for the record the local senator also gave testimony at our congressional field hearing on her observations and issues that she saw between the local and federal government with regard to recovery. chair gowdy: without objection. the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from texas is recognized for his own time, mr. cloud. mr. cloud: thank you. kind of picking up where we left off. one of the issues we were talking about with housing i appreciate you mentioning the trailers. we had conversations about that offline. about the amazing cost. one of the other issues that was kind of complicating was the fema staff that would be deployed would often take up the available temporary housing that residents could use for recovery.
my question is, meanwhile, trailers are sitting on an airstrip waiting for the approval process to be placed with residents who need recovery. has fema considered using those trailers to house its own employees? freeing up the temporary housing space to allow residents back into their communities? many would have to stay at hotels two hours away because the local ones were taken up by fema employees and not available to help. administrator long: that's a very fair and great question. something that we have to balance delicately. the last thing i want is my response staff to take up rooms that we're trying to utilize through our transitional shelters. we want to be able to access those hotels for disaster victims. disaster survivors. we try to set up base camps. we try to for our own responders. it always takes us a couple days to get our feet underneath us
when we respond. the second part when it comes to utilizing trailers. here again we're having to stage trailers all over the country because of what's gone on in paradise or what's gone on in michael and the issues coming in texas. the biggest thing that stands in the way of us typically getting trailers put into place is local , liketing and ordinances the not in my back yard ordinances that delay us from being able to get it into the property. if you look at paradise, california, which is the worst disaster i have ever seen in my life and all of you should take a trip over there and go see what the devastation was in california, is that there is nothing to hook a trailer up to. there is no supporting infrastructure whatsoever. housing is incredibly difficult. so i go back to what i think would be best is granting authority. if i could block grant that
funding to governor abbott, and governor abbott could follow his own procurement laws to buy every travel trailer in the state of texas, that's the way model should work rather than me having to go through a large contract and purchasing manufactured housing units from some other company located wherever. governor abbott ought to be able to go to all the lots in texas that sell travel trailers and buy them in a market -- competitive market rate. that's how it should work. mr. cloud: we talked about the process, length of the process. as a visual aid, that's the fema process. very, very complicated. in spite of what people are going through, they had three different site visits to the same site each with teams of , seven people, each not aware of what the previous team had done. in wharton, they had seven site
visits to the same river each time with a different team. there was a $10,000 grant that one small community was applying for that had the same 32 approval touch points as someone applying for $1 million grant. my question how can fema reform the process so -- that it's streamlined, but also so there is a single point of contact and single warehouse of information so that ideally staff wouldn't change, but when it does have to change, that they have access to what's been done to this point. so many times it just felt like starting from scratch eight months into the process. administrator long: goal number three under reduce the complexity, what i think would be best is if we submitted for the record what we're trying to do to reduce the burden in the process. if you go back to -- i believe it was harvey. we need to go back and confirm the numbers. i think as a result of harvey we had to physically perform 2.3 million home inspections.
why can't we just use technology? here's why. because if we use technology and we get something wrong, then i get hit with a negative o.i.g. report. we have to strike the right balance. mr. cloud: your point residents who have the forethought before i make my own home repairs take pictures of my house? >> or why can't i use satellite imagery -- >> but as you because it wasn't taken by a fema rep, those photos were not submissible. administrator long: that's where fema wants to go. we want to make things streamlined and cut down the time frame. i had been in office two months and harvey was my first real disaster. it blew my mind that it takes 17,000 people to go 2.3 million home inspections. that's a ridiculous process. do we not have technology, satellite imagery, or aerial --gery, or take the word for
of the citizen to be able to do it and rapidly approve it? we get hit all the time because we're not protecting against fraud. i would argue that fraud -- the fraud that might be encountered is minimal compared to the contract it takes me to do the home inspections. it's a balance. then i'm caught in a rock and hard place because if i don't protect against fraud i'm dragged in front of a committee and told you are not protecting against fraud. we have to strike the right balance. i agree, that process is too long. we have to do what we can to put -- cut forward. i'm not a fan of 2 c.f.r. that guides how money is put forward. there are two different standards a double standard for the federal government -- state governments and local governments. and we need to go through that, fine-tune it, and streamline it, and put money forward. after a disaster everybody is trying to do the best they can. and to move as quickly as they can. i know my agency is working on it. mr. cloud: it would seem to me
for all the best intentions of eliminating waste we have created a system of waste. i look forward to your report. i know my time is limited. i'll submit further questions and look forward to your response. administrator long: we're after the same thing. we want to accomplish the same thing. chair gowdy: the gentleman friend from louisiana, mr. graves, be allowed to fully participate in today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. mr. sablan. mr. sablan: thank you, mr. chairman. chairman gowdy. of course our ranking member cummings for the opportunity to sit in with your committee for today's hearing. at the risk of overextending my visit -- my invitation, i also ask that this committee continue its examination of all the federal government responds to -- response to disasters and to supere that examination
typhoons, the largest storm on planet earth this year. thank you. the northern mariana islands, my district, was struck by -- about three years ago a typhoon. on september 10 and october 24, super typhoon. we're still slowly recovering. we're typhoon alley so we deal with many storms. several a year. i want to take this moment to thank the american people for all that they are doing to help their fellow americans in the marianas rebuild their lives. i want to acknowledge the work that the 1,345 federal employees assigned to the marianas are doing including many from the army corps, many from fema, and other department of defense personnel.
please know that i'm very grateful. i'm not satisfied with their work. how can i be when so many people i represent remain without power and water? living in shelters and tents. many children -- there are children not in school, without jobs and incomes, struggling day by day. after going through a typhoon, i have gone over hundreds and hundreds of typhoons, i have never seen one like this. a gentle and whose roof flew in the i was just passing by. he told me he said, congressman sablan, i have never seen that the air around me and the clouds were colored pink. that was the eye passing. reading the committee's report on the federal response in other parts of the country i see that i am not alone in my dissatisfaction.
let me explain something. in the typhoon about three years ago a dialysis center came to me and asked me to help them find fuel for his generator so his 61 patients don't have to get up and be moved to guam for their dialysis. in another typhoon he asked for water. 61 patients in the hospital, the only other dialysis center couldn't handle. but these are things that should have already been some checkbox. the dialysis, let's check on how he's doing. no it's not. how do i explain to my constituents the slow pace of inspections of damaged properties?
a committee told me on november 6 that 90% of inspections would be complete in 30 days. with only a week to go, only 51% of inspections are complete. i asked him what he told me, are you sure? he said, yes, i pledge. i give you my pledge. i got written up for a conversation i had with one of your staff. if fema would do its work as fast as they wrote me up, then we wouldn't be -- i wouldn't be sitting here talking to you, mr. long. then also how do i explain to my constituents why inspectors have not called? fema told me that i could promise that they could get the call in seven to 10 days after registration and they did not.
after the typhoon came, i had to go find a generator and open up a registration office in my congressional office. and help people use the phone and use -- register online. because fema did not do that in the beginning. it went on for, if i'm not mistaken, sir, 10 days. once fema opened the registration office helping people, i closed mine. but i have to do that because no one was doing anything except telling people call this number and register. some people don't have phones. some people have prepaid phones. i watched the lady sit down for six hours in my office, six hours trying to navigate registering with her case with
fema. i'll be honest with you, i watch people get done in 10 minutes. i come from a place where people are asked what's your routing number, what the hell is that? do you know your bank routing number, mr. long? i don't. chair gowdy: the gentleman's out of time. mr. sablan: another minute, please. chair gowdy: i'll give you one more to go along with one i have already given you. mr. sablan: thank you, sir. mr. long, i'm not holding this against you. how do i explain to my constituents why fema send inspection notices or payments to the homes instead of pose office boxes. there is no home delivery on the marianas. the mail pied up unbelievable because they were address to the second blue house from the corner and return to the concerned either fema or
treasury for the benefit checks. all of these things. again, -- when i'm talking how do i get answers to these questions when fema staff assigned to the congressional liaison, i get so tired of hearing, i don't know, congressman. i'm asking a question. i'm serious. this goes on -- we can't meet until 11:00. two updates in the morning. and he cannot answer my questions. every question i ask is i don't know. the next person that talks to me, every question i ask is, i will have to ask and get back to you. i can't understand that. chair gowdy: the gentleman's extra minute is up. if you would like to respond.
administrator long: congressman, first of all the mariana island took a tremendous hit. you are exactly right. we have over 1,200 federal government employees out there responding now. it's my understanding we put roughly $3 million in the hands of those who have registered and eligible for assistance. here's the problem, this goes back to my original opening statement. we have got to call -- it's hard for us when the communication system is totally knocked out. a lot of our registration system is dependent upon whether it's phones, cell phones, or the internet, and then being able to mobilize several thousand miles away disaster support teams to manually register people door-to-door is a painstaking process. here's the thing. what i would ask of congress is how do we work with the private sector, the verizons, at&ts of the world to make sure they are putting forward a resilient infrastructure that we need to use to communicate that doesn't
get blown out by forms or burned up by filed wires? when that stuff happens, it impacts my ability to do jobs and it frustrates us, you. in regards to the information request, i need to go back and i'll ask why are you not getting the answers. i'll put my regional administrator directly in touch with you and we'll try to clear that up. mr. sablan: thank you, mr. long. i need to work with you because this will take a while. on the telephone systems, mr. long, it's underground. we have a better phone system than hawaii. when the typhoon hit i keep calling my mother. she's ok. it's just people don't have phones. they don't have the money to pay for long distance calls. toll free numbers. i would like if possible for someone in your office to visit sew we can talk. administrator long: absolutely. mr. sablan: thank you, mr. chairman, for your indulgence. i'm grateful. chair gowdy: the gentleman from
georgia, mr. hice, is recognized. mr. hice: thank you, mr. chairman. administrator long, thank you so much for being here and your leadership. what you are bringing to the agency as we have all seen in recent months seems now more than ever the role that you play is a critical one. we appreciate the leadership you are providing. i recently, of course, have been impacted by hurricane michael. came through georgia and through portions of my district were hit hard. we also have family who live in the panhandle of florida who were directly in the eye of that storm. one family member totally lost their home. another severely damaged, they are working through it. others are surviving and just doing some cases, thankfully minimal repairs. in that whole process i personally went to the panhandle of florida and obviously some
counties in georgia as well because family personally involved, we were on the scene with family taking supplies and helping, generators, that type of thing. i want to say that the word that i received, working directly with people and being right in the middle of that catastrophic event, were people told me that within hours of the storm fema had boots on the ground doing everything from passing out water to helping clear the roads. i just want to say personally thank you for the role there. i'm sure that fema was not the only one. i'm sure there were state and local government, as well as nongovernment entities and certainly citizens involved immediately. i want to thank you for the quick response that fema provided there. and with that of course georgia
has been powerfully impacted in recent years by a couple storms. i again want to thank you and your team for working closely with our governor and the incredible work that gema, georgia emergency management association. can you walk me through right now what fema is doing to work with both georgia and florida on hurricane michael relief? administrator long: absolutely. when it comes to georgia i believe we have roughly 69 counties declared for at least public assistance, not all. i think 17 or 18 counties for individual assistance we're working with. georgia, what's interesting about expectations is that what georgia learned is that hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. the problem with georgia is more -- not only did people lose their homes and livelihood, but the most tremendous impact in georgia was one that was agricultural. there were generational losses.
not just -- you didn't just lose this year's crop, you lost the ability -- all your trees that it takes 10 years to regrow to be productive. the response in working through, the director of the agency, where i started my career, we're in constant communication with him. and trying to, here again, bring the whole suite of the federal government assistance that comes down to alleviate the problems. it's one thing for us to fix broken infrastructure, and i think we put close to $10 million empty -- in the hands of georgians. but then it kirs usda and agriculture to deal with the economic losses that the farmers went through. florida, what happened in mexico beach is something that all of you should go down and see. it's a lesson learned. i don't care where people want to live, but there is a risk to live in different places. if are you going to live along
the coast, then you need robust building codes and standards and zoned planning. that's the key to reducing the disaster. mexico beach right now is one of these areas where we have to say, how do we do this right if we rebuild paradise so we don't go through this again? .florida was a tremendous hit. it wasn't just along the coast, it was inland. it's going to take us years to help georgia and florida overcome what hurricane michael did. mr. hice: the generational loss with the agricultural community is tops on my mind when it relates to georgia. it is absolutely catastrophic. and apocalyptic from the panhandle of florida and areas of georgia. one other question, just in light of some of the previous discussion that's already taken place relating to puerto rico and the reality that fema is not first and foremost first responder.
but how do you plan to work differently with state, local, tribal, territorial entities in the future where there are identifiable systemic vulnerabilities? what's the plan to help prepare? administrator long: here again i go back to the example of the chair, we have to make sure all four of those legs are there. in regards to puerto rico, fema's now one of the largest employers in the commonwealth. we have hired -- i think we have over 2,400 people there. but i think we hired 1,800 people locally. we have the best and brightest in puerto rico learning the backbone of emergency management. what we have got to be able to do is build a robust puerto rican emergency management agency at the state level. we're trying to work daily with the 78 municipalities to bolster .our capability that was not existent before the storm. we're making sure that we shore
up the capabilities. we have been through multiple exercises. we're rewriting the national response framework to i core pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20 the private sector as well. at the end of the day fema doesn't own any of the infrastructure. we don't own anyone. the private sector does. we have to make sure the private sector is in front of every bit of our disaster response that they tell us what they need. so that they can get to their infrastructure. there is a ton of things that are taking place there. i'm also, believe it or not, recovery. we use section 428 of the stafford act to make sure that every project work sheet when we rebuild a school system or the hospital system, that it's done in a resilient fashion. mitigation is put in to the forefront of every dollar we spend so we're not doing this again and again. mr. hice: there is no perfect agency. thank you for the work and leadership you are providing to make this the best it can be in the worst of times. we appreciate it. thank you. i yield back. chair gowdy: mr. hice yields back.
ms. velazquez. yes, ma'am. ms. velazquez: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. long, i am a puerto rican american citizen. as well as well as luis gutierrez. when i hear you trying to blame the local government, i get angry. i get angry because much your lack of understanding of the political reality of puerto rico and the united states. and i have said this in the past. puerto rico is a colony of the united states of america. and with that comes responsibilities. of the u.s. government. the president when he went to
puerto rico, he said, that katrina was catastrophic. that it was a catastrophe. yet maria wasn't because only 16 deaths was the official count. so knowing what we know now, close to 3,000, do you consider maria to be a catastrophe? administrator long: ma'am, absolutely. my agency works every day -- ms. velazquez: just say yes or no. because i have a lot to say. knowing what we knew that a category five was on its track to hit puerto rico, knowing what we knew that puerto rico's economy was in shambles, not because of puerto rico but because of policies that have been enacted here in the u.s.
congress, they ended 936. so all big corporations packed and came home. they didn't have incentives to be in puerto rico. why did the puerto rico economy is in shamble? because we don't have an economic model in puerto rico that is ingrained into the need of the people of puerto rico but rather the interests of american corporations. in 1984, this congress ended the ability of puerto rico to file for bankruptcy. all the financial crisis that they are facing, they knew that the power of greed was very vulnerable.
so knowing what we knew, what predisposition of assets were in place prior to hurricane maria making landfall? did we have enough gasoline? did we have enough food? did we have enough manpower knowing that that -- that maria was on its way to hit puerto rico? mr. long, what was the communication like between fema and the white house before maria and after maria? who did you speak with at the white house concerning disaster response in puerto rico? because the president in his mind didn't believe that it was a massive catastrophe based on the fact that only 16 or 17 people were dead.
and to me, it really brings the issue how did that official count shape the response from the federal government in the mind of the president? administrator long: ma'am, here again there were two hits. both packed a severe punch. we preloaded to the capacity that our caribbean area distribution and logistics office could hold when it came to food and water. we prepositioned a lot of assets and pushed forward . when you have two hits in succession it requires more than fema. listen, i work extremely hard every day with the puerto rican -- mr. velazquez: i am not taking that away from you. i am not taking that away from the work force from fema in puerto rico. but i want you to understand the responsibility of the federal government regarding puerto rico
and puerto rican american citizens. administrator long: sure. ms. velazquez: my uncle didn't go to work defending the national security of our nation for nothing. he basically like many other puerto rican veterans are being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. when you sit there and try to blame the local government, you need to also learn about the history of puerto rico and the united states. administrator long: ma'am, don't blame everybody in a disaster. everybody blames fema. don't blame anybody. ms. velazquez: puerto rico doesn't have the ability to have the kind of response in place and preparedness. administrator long: we're working to build that capability. help me build puerto rico's capability. ms. velazquez: make sure, make sure that you have oversight in place when you are making sure that fema funds will primarily be used to repair houses in
puerto rico and not line the pockets of contractors. the majority of whom appear to be based in the mainland. let's use, let's use this opportunity to help rebuild the puerto rican economy by making sure that the billions of dollars that go to puerto rico to rebuild stay in puerto rico. administrator long: we put $15 billion to work in puerto rico already. we have rebuilt and made safe sanitary functional over 100 thousand homes. it's a tremendous effort. i would be happy update you. ms. velazquez: the other advice i have for you, sir. i was in puerto rico with nancy pelosi and entire delegation. and we met with fema and the fine employees from fema. you need to put standards in place and when you issue a directive, make sure that everyone from san juan to the most remote part of the island
in your shop know what that new directive means so that we do not shortchange the people of puerto rico. chair gowdy: the gentlelady's out of time and yields back. the gentleman from mississippi, mr. grothman, is recognized. mr. grothman: i'll tell you, mr. long, i think this is easily the busiest of the three committees. we had three people testify between this committee and subcommittee just constantly. one of the most on the ball people we have had testify before you. i'd like to thank you for the job you are doing. i think some of these people sit back home and watch these hearings and we have -- we make inflammatory statements we have to straighten things out for people back home. you hear this story that 3,000 people -- first of all i want to talk a little bit. you first took this job in the beginning of 2017? you had three hurricanes in 2017, right?
administrator long: we had 75 total disasters last year. mr. grothman: how many hurricanes you had to deal with? administrator long: eight, six of them being majors. prior to being hit. mr. grothman: you have had three? administrator long: three in 17 and three this year. mr. grothman: three in 2017. when is the last time we had that much volume of damage done in one year? administrator long: in 2004, we were hit with four major hurricanes in six weeks, charlie, francis, jean and i have and and then went 11 years without anything. mr. grothman: i know there are a couple of people today who talk
about 3,000 deaths. when i think the death connected to a hurricane, people think of someone drowning, someone due to wind, diing from that. every death is a tragedy. but i want to understand with that figure. how many people the way a lay man died because of the hurricane? administrator long: the direct death? i don't recall the number, but i don't believe any of it is accurate. in regards to the 3,000, you would have to dr. goldman and how she determined that. i have read the g.w. study and they measure different time frames and different characteristics, but not one of them determines what the cause of death is in those studies and i don't think we know what the deaths were. it was a tremendous impact and
one death is a death too many that we try to work against every day. mr. grothman: in wisconsin, there is deer hunting deaths caused by a heart attack. do you have an approximate number of people who died caused dr direct cause by these hurricanes? >> no, sir. mr. grothman: but the 3,000 number is not based on what a lay man would say, drowned, due the wind, correct? >> if i remember correctly the direct death number that was put forward by the colony was 65. but that would be like structural collapse, storm
surge, wind, waves, whatever it could have been in regards to the 3,000 deaths. it could have been someone injured trying to clean debris or someone who had a heart attack six months of maria. what was the average over time. here again, fema doesn't determine cause of death. we have to take the local government's word what the death is and the there were flaws in the capability of puerto rico to accurately track and put forward. we have taken specific action. i have mobilized disaster mort uary teams to try to alleviate the issue on determining or processing deaths because there is a backlog that exists. i'm having to step in to do that job as well. mr. grothman: but i think it's important to remember the 3,000
number is different than what the average person would think. i was not aware until today, you right now are tasked with repairing infrastructure to be far better than the infrastructure that was there before the hurricane? administrator long: i had to ask for special authorities. it's no secret that the infrastructure was not well maintained. and typically, fema does not have the authority to fix anything that was not maintained by local or state government. i asked specifically recognizing this problem and knowing how long the long-term recovery was going to be, i had to seek special authority to fix it. here's what we're doing to make sure we don't go through this again and we are building a more resilient puerto rico. we are going through the 428 plan to factor in mitigation.
we are trying to rebuild schools. once that's done, what i would ask is that everyone on the committee to make sure that the agencies in charge of the schools are in charge of the power system once it's all rebuilt and a plan to maintain it in the future so we don't go through this again. mr. grothman: from my perspective, the federal government borrows 22% of every dollar spent. and i think it's something we will have to look out in the future having to pay to make things better beforehand. something we ought to look into. i would like to thank you for coming over here. and some people are trying to make political points at your
expense. i think you are doing a tremendous job. mr. gowdy: the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez is reckniesed. mr. gutierrez: i know my words cannot do you any harm, i leave congress having made a great friendship with you over the years that we served together. and i wanted to put that in the record somewhere. mr. gowdy: thank you. and i wouldn't have minded it. mr. gutierrez: that is part of the reality of washington d.c. you can't tell people who you sometimes admire or you are friends with whose company you cherish. having said that, i think we have to fundamentally understand maria within the context of the federal government.
why? i know you say to me, oh, that's all local. the federal government has the sovereignty over the island of puerto rico. what does that mean? any rule and any legislation that we pass here in the congress of the united states is immediately implemented over the island of puerto rico. you say, well, you know, the infrastructure wasn't there. you need to eat a banana on the island of puerto rico. i suggest you check. and this is the imposition of rules of the congress of the united states over what can be grown, planted and what can be done. the island of puerto rico, i'm sure, you have noticed now produces what it doesn't consume and consumes what it doesn't produce. a classic colonial situation. open up a new wal-mart or walgreen, just like that. have opportunities for economic investment where people actually
get job. as a matter of fact, the congress has stripped the ability of the people of puerto rico to have those kinds of jobs and to do what we have to do. look, i came here to say to the chairman and to all of those that are here, you have a huge task because of your boss. it was the president of the united states that said the people of puerto rico are busting the budget. i could go back to what my colleague said. did we bust the budget when thousands of us died in times of war? is that the highest tax of paying with their body and blood. second, the president of the united states said, he basically said mexicans are murderers are rapists and puerto rico, you had a hurricane. why do i say that? they want the federal government to do everything for them.
that is a lie. how do i know it's a lie? because although this administration would not allow members of congress to use air force facilities to fly to the island of puerto rico, i got on a plane and congresswoman velazquez, we were able to get there with no assistance. now i want to make sure that i also make this clear. i know there are hundreds of men and women that work at fema every day and go out there and do an outstanding job. i see them. i have met with them. and i know there are members of the armed forces of the united states that have been out there. but this is the most powerful, richest, technologically advanced country in the world. in spite of what you saw them do, we didn't do what we can. we're rich, we're powerful, we are technologically advanced and
still have blue tarps a year and a half later. the electricity still goes out. people are still fleeing the island. and i just wanted to say, as you make your plan, i know we have a president of the united states who said in his gut, he is really intelligent but in his deput he doesn't believe climate change is real although 13 governmental agencies and hundreds of scientists, the hundreds of thousandses of puerto ricans don't live on that live there, those are climate change refugees. the hurricanes are coming back. the waters are getting warmer. prepare, because on the low side, mr. director, it's 3,000, on the high side, it's 4,500, compare that to how many people died in the last hurricane. one life is one life too many.
but when you think you can take immediate numbers from the hurricane in florida and look at your numbers, i bet you don't get to 100. in puerto rico, it is 3,000 400 and the hurricanes are coming back. look for what you did, thank you. for what you have to prepare, you have to do it. that's why i came here this morning. mr. gowdy: the gentleman from illinois yields back. i thank you for what you said. the gentleman from louisiana has been waiting and constantly been engaged with this issue. we welcome you. the gentleman is recognized. >> i commend your staff for putting the report together that can identify the number of important issues that face 2017 and 2018 disasters but has identified areas for improvement
of the future of disasters. it is noteworthy since 1980, we had 220 disasters. and spent $1.5 trillion responding to these disasters. there is a better way. whether it's the death, or the money, there is a better way. we did pass an act that the president signed into law and did address a number of important issues providing additional flexibility, providing you some additional tools and i think better integration with the capabilities of state and local governments. we have more to do. administrator, i do appreciate you being here and i know you have an incredibly tough job to do. every disaster is unpredictable and trying to plan for that is virtually impossible. means we shouldn't try but it is virtually impossible.
i have expressed some frustration and you commented on some of those early. the disaster we had in august, 2016, i dealt with fema, the corps of engineers, with h.u.d., the united states department of agriculture, the coast guard and other agencies. it is incredible to deal with these agencies while trying to deal efficient solutions to disaster victims. one issue we are dealing right now, nfip is requiring you have elevation of homes. under a previous executive order that has been rescinded, h.u.d. requires a 2.5 freeboard. and all of a sudden, you are no longer in come lines with a h.u.d. standard that was put into an executive order. these people aren't eligible to be rebuilding their homes.
that is idiotic and revictimizing our survivors from some of these disasters. we need to do a better job to integrate the efforts or consolidating these efforts within your agency. flood insurance program, something that has been a very hot topic sm the state of louisiana is at the bottom of the largest watersheds, drain from minnesota from new york and into. number two as a result of the corps of engineers' efforts to drain the river, we have lost 2,000 square miles of our coast making the gulf of mexico close to it. vulnerabilities in the north and south. how do i explain to our citizens that they are going to being charged higher flood insurance rates when they had no
additional -- administrator long: the d.r.a. and i think there is over 64 different provisions that we are trying to get through. you made your intent very clear. mr. graves: yes. administrator long: it truly is impressive. and i think it will do a lot of help and we have a long way to go. we are passionate. and right amount of love and anger at the same time. i want to reduce the complexity. there needs to be when it comes to the nfip, instead of extending it one week or three months, can we extend it a year but make a commitment that we will make transformal changes rather than kicking it down the road because the program is broken. and i am trying to do the best for the program that needs to be
fundamentally changed to account for afford bilt and in some cases, maybe it's a change in the industry. why can't you get a policy that is all hazards to begin with. mr. graves: we are going to try to extend this. you are really key on this. flood insurance is defense. one of the most cost effective things we can do based on countless studies is bringing offense to the table. making sure they have the tools to be proactive. we did the predisaster mitigation. and m.g.p. can be used for corps' projects. some of your staff is fighting upon, but it's law. but whenever we've got to bring
an offense to the table. you just can't have a defense. mr. chairman, i want to make two points. number one that disaster bill regarding duplication of benefits, there was a 45-day clock for the administration to make a decision on a waiver request for cdbgr. it is 50-something days and have heard nothing. we have $250 million sitting in the bank. several thousand families that cannot get back into their homes or other -- and people had to sell their homes sm the money is in the bank and already been appropriated. that is complying with the law. this is a major issue affecting several thousand people. this needs to be fixed. administrator long: i hear you loud and clear.
mr. graves: we have a number of contractors that are doing great in virgin islands and have been waiting several months to be paid. administrator, you are well aware, having additional competition is really important to deliver value to taxpayers. we can't have those kinds of response times for paying these contractors. it will prevent them from coming back in when you need their help. administrator long: i will look into it. we would grant the money to the state and it would be paid through the virgin islands' government. mr. graves: this committee's role in bringing these agencies together, the flood insurance program and corps of engineers, i think it is important to make sure we don't stop at the reforms that were signed into law.
we could help save lives and money and i appreciate you holding this hearing. mr. gowdy: i thank you for your persistent interest even though you are not on this committee even though you mentioned the number of issues to me on the floor. major general spellman, there is a rule in the justice system, called the rule of completeness, some people call it the rule of fairness. pretty simple proposition. can't just tell part of the story but have to tell the whole story. most of us were brought, the oath i just administered it says to tell the truth and then says
tell the whole truth. called the rule of completeness or rule of fairness. you may have noticed we do not have that rule in politics. what you have in politics is selective amnesia and a hyperfocus on pointing out what your political adverse areas have not done as opposed to what they have done. i listened to my friend from maryland and his opening decrying the fact that we have not had a public hearing. we had one today. every single member ran out of time. you get five minutes. the advantage for members of congress is you are on television. the disadvantage is that you are limited to five minutes. and you have to unlock the mysteries of the world in five minutes. and i let every single one of them go over. every single one of them.
some of them went over a lot, because you cannot effectively question anything in five minutes. so keeping with the rule of completeness and the rule of fairness, i'm going to let you know, i appreciate you mentioning the word staff. i appreciate you doing that. i don't mind if my colleagues take shots at other members of congress. i don't mind that. we all signed up for it. what mr. gutierrez is rare, really rare to say something across the aisle, complimentary publicly. he is the unicorn. that doesn't happen. i get that. but you mentioned staff. so i'm going to let you know what staff has done as it relates to our fellow citizens who are suffering due to natural disaster. october of 2017, no, i did not misspeak.
october of 2017, we had a member briefing with fema. now what you may ask is a member briefing? it is an opportunity of members of congress to come and ask every question that they have. there is no time constraint. there is no time limit. you are not going to get cut off by a chairperson. you can ask whatever you want to ask which is why i prefer briefings. so someone who represents a district that is impacted by hurricanes is not limited to five minutes. october 3, 2017, a member briefing with officials from fema. october 11, 2017, a member briefing with officials from the d.o.d. and the army corps of engineers. october of 2017, letters went to h.h.s., d.o.d., including the
army corps of engineers, d.h.s., including fema requesting documents. if memory serves me correctly, this committee has accessed over 18,000 documents you did not hear that in the opening statement given by my friend from maryland. so we're up to two member briefings and 18,000 documents and we're not out of october 2017 yet and that's when committee staff travel to texas. not for five minutes in a youtube opportunity, but to actually talk to their fellow americans who have been devastated. that's why i appreciate you mentioning staff. it was staff that made that trip
to check on the weg-being of their fellow americans. november of 2017, a follow-up briefing, mr. long with fema on disaster contracting and reimbursements. that is over a year ago. january of 2018, a letter to the g.a.o. requesting a comprehensive evaluation of the government's response, recovery efforts for hurricanes and wildfires. january, 2018, another briefing with h.h.s. on response and recovery. february of 2018, another meeting with the g.a.o. on their hurricane response in 2017. march of 2018, a briefing with the american red cross. march of 2018, a field hearing in the u.s. virgin islands.
there were members that went. it was mainly staff. on the ground in an area impacted by a devastating hurricane hearing from their fellow americans about how they can help make things better. you did not hear that in the opening statement given by my friend from maryland. april of 2018, a briefing on fema section 428 program. april of 2018, committee staff traveled to puerto rico. so they could see firsthand the devastation wreaked upon their
fellow citizens. i get it. i get it. it was staff that did that. i didn't hear that mentioned in my friend from maryland's opening. june of 2018, another meeting with the g.a.o. august of 2018, another briefing with fema. september of 2018, administrator long, you may recall a letter from me and others asking you for even more information, more than the 18 nourks that we already received and then we get to october of this year and garrett, this is why i'm grateful that you did what you did, the staff released a come prepares i have report that it had done studying other natural disasters trying to figure out how to do a better job. i wouldn't have known that if you simply listened to the opening statement given by my friend on the other side.
so the rules will be reversed come january. i will be gone. we will be in the minority. i hope the minority treats the majority with more fairness than the minority treated the majority today. and what i really help is that you a draw a line of demarcation, you can criticize members all you want, but staff spent well over a year trying to figure out how to make their citizens' lives better and i didn't hear a damn word about it in the statement given by my friend from maryland. thank you for coming today. i thank you. work harder and improve our citizens' lives. work harder. and i'm sure that congress will continue its oversight
responsibilities in 2018. that, the record will remain open if anyone wants to submit questions for the record. thank you for your time and with that, we are adjourned. \[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org >> national flood insurance program which is
sense was a kind of, we are altogether, right? that is somehow elemental to what it means to be american. character is to be a poster was -- is to be able to improvise. george washington at valley forge, general washington improvised to be almost like a guerrilla fighter, to live off the land, to be able to do what we need to do to get the job done. beginning, very certainly minorities were not included in certain religious groups were not. and women were not. that changes over time. announcer: tonight, on c-span's
q&a. this week on the communicators, monitoring the $385 billion technology industry. >> are the googles and facebooks of the world too big, your view? >> you can look at the companies that are becoming very large and wonder if they are getting to the point where we have to take a closer look. because the internet is a different animal, now we deal in digits. it's a very different thing. one you could always touch, the other is a bunch of zeros and ones. is iow you tackle that think what we have to get a grip on. before we do, i think we will be able to answer that very clearly. is anyone being anti-competitive? monopolisticoming
to a chance where our laws to affect ended we had to take a closer look at antitrust laws to make sure they have adapted to meet the needs of this new internet world? announcer: what the communicators monday at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. funeral plans of announced for former president george h.w. bush. members of the house and senate will take part in an arrival ceremony for the casket and the capital live on monday, starting at 5 p.m. you can see that here on cspan. in the evening the public will be able to pay the respectively president as he lies in state. the funeral of the watching a nap note the drop begin the 11:00 -- at the washington national cathedral begins at 11:00. later, he will return to texas for a public viewing in houston. on thursday, there's a funeral service at saint martins of the scoble church with the burial that afternoon at the george bush presidential library
and museum. house democrats this week with a series of leadership elections ahead of the 116th congress with charge in january. coming up are several briefings starting with hakeem jeffries' comments after his election to the democratic caucus chair. then, one of the leaders of a group of democrats opposing nancy pelosi's bid to be house speaker followed by a news conference with nancy pelosi. >> good afternoon. let me thank barbara lee again for a tremendous service to this nation, for all that she is, all that she does, all that she represents from the very beginning to the very end. this was a friendly