The Post's Sept. 13 editorial "Goodbye, 'Brownie' " takes issue with proposed legislation by "a gaggle of mostly Democratic lawmakers" that would separate the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security. Along with Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), we members of the so-called gaggle believe that the editorial's determination that FEMA should remain in the DHS bureaucracy is misguided. FEMA's position in the bureaucracy directly led to this agency's dysfunction and its disastrous handling of relief efforts. We predicted as much in 2002 when we opposed moving FEMA into DHS.
Compare James Lee Witt's FEMA with Michael Chertoff's and Michael D. Brown's FEMA: Under Mr. Witt, an independent FEMA had the agency's brightest successes. It communicated directly with state and local governments, created meaningful partnerships to answer America's needs and ranked as a top federal agency.
Under Mr. Chertoff and Mr. Brown, the agency experienced its worst failure. It had weak communications with state and local governments, so much so that the mayor of New Orleans had to put out an SOS to help his forgotten citizens. It recently ranked last in employee satisfaction.
The legislative solutions we and Mr. Oberstar have worked on would pull FEMA out of the bowels of DHS and require that an emergency management professional be in charge. It is imperative that FEMA have a leader with a strong hand, a strong background and the president's ear.
JOHN D. DINGELL
U.S. Representative (D-Mich.)
DAVID R. OBEY
U.S. Representative (D-Wis.)
The writers are ranking Democrats on, respectively, the Energy and Commerce and the Appropriations Committees.