1/14/2020 — 

Mr. President, I rise to support the nomination of Peter T. Gaynor to be the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA.

I have known and worked with Pete Gaynor for over a decade.  Before taking over as FEMA Deputy Administrator in 2018 and becoming Acting Administrator in 2019, Pete was the emergency management director for the City of Providence and then the State of Rhode Island. 

As a Marine, he was on duty nearby the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and helped direct important aspects of the response and recovery efforts in the hours, days, and weeks that followed.  Later he went on to serve in U.S. operations in Iraq before returning home to Rhode Island.

As EMA director in Rhode Island, Pete led the response to federally-declared disasters in our state, and worked to successfully earn national emergency management accreditation for both the Providence and Rhode Island emergency management agencies.  I know he will tap this full experience to serve the American people as FEMA Administrator.  And FEMA needs solid leadership.

Indeed, as the flagship federal agency for disaster preparedness and response, FEMA faces extraordinary challenges – confronting the very real effects of climate-related disasters, reforming the National Flood Insurance Program, administering critical grant programs, and helping ready the nation for possible chemical, biological, and radiological attacks.   

Make no mistake.  I have deep concerns about many aspects of this Administration’s approach to disaster recovery.  Puerto Rico is a case in point, and now it is facing new challenges.  As Ranking Member of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, I have been dismayed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s slow-walking of billions of dollars of disaster recovery assistance for Puerto Rico.

As the lead agency for disaster response and recovery, FEMA must set the standard for professionalism and compassion for people and communities going through the worst experience of their lives.  And it is my expectation that Pete Gaynor will work to make sure it does.

I urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm him.

Thank you.