Joyce Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (As Prepared)

Apr 18, 2023

Today’s hearing will come to order.

This afternoon, we welcome the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deanne Criswell, to testify on FEMA’s fiscal year 2024 budget request.

Administrator Criswell, thank you for joining us today, and thank you for your decades of service to our country in the military, as a firefighter and first responder, and your years in emergency management.

FEMA has the simple—yet critical—mission of helping the American people before, during, and after disasters. 

The fiscal year 2024 budget request for FEMA is $25.5 billion dollars. The majority of these funds—$20.1 billion dollars—are requested for the Disaster Relief Fund to support response and recovery efforts for major disaster declarations, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

The requested funds are on top of the $170 billion that Congress has appropriated for the Disaster Relief Fund since 2020—and in addition to the supplemental request that we expect to receive in the coming days to ensure the Disaster Relief Fund’s continued solvency in the current fiscal year.

To date, FEMA has obligated approximately $112 billion in response to the COVID disaster—and that only represents the expenses for which states have requested and received reimbursement so far.

States will continue to incur costs through May 11, when both the disaster period and the public health emergency will officially end.

I’d like to hear from you today on the biggest challenges FEMA faces in continuing to manage the COVID disaster—including FEMA’s projections for total COVID disaster spending, and whether the continued focus on the COVID disaster detracts from FEMA’s ability to respond to past, current, and future disasters.

Lastly, I’m concerned to see a continued focus on FEMA’s so-called “Road to Resilience,” which represents a significant reorganization to FEMA programs and functions in the name of attaining an ill-defined, nebulous goal.

This initiative is—at best—merely a talking point in this Administration’s ongoing “resilience” narrative. At worst, it has the potential to severely hamper FEMA’s ability to support its core disciplines of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.   

Administrator Criswell, I want to thank you and everyone at FEMA for your hard work and dedication.

I look forward to your testimony today, and to working with you throughout the fiscal year 2024 appropriations process. 

Now before I turn to our witness for her statement, I would like to recognize our outstanding Ranking Member, Mr. Cuellar, for his opening remarks.