House Oversight Initiates Investigation into FEMA’s Handling of Maui Incident

The Republican chairmen of two House committees on Friday launched an inquiry into the Biden administration’s ongoing response to the deadly wildfires in Maui.

Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., and Subcommittee on Government Operations Chair Pete Sessions sent a joint letter — signed by 13 other Republicans — to the Federal Emergency Management Agency “seeking information from FEMA on all ongoing recovery efforts in Maui.” 

Calling FEMA’s response to Hurricane Ian that wrecked southwest Florida in September 2022 “hindered and delayed,” Comer and Sessions said in the letter they want to “avoid similar recovery issues” in Lahaina, Maui.

Comer and Sessions gave FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell a deadline of Sept. 29 to provide information to the eight questions in the letter.

“The deadly wildfire in Maui shocked the nation and left many, especially those directly impacted by the tragedy, with serious questions that remain unanswered today. President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most.

“To ensure locals are receiving the assistance they need, and taxpayer dollars being used effectively, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is taking action and seeking information from FEMA on all ongoing recovery efforts in Maui,” Comer and Sessions said in a press release.

The letter comes a day after a hearing for Sept. 28 was announced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for Hawaii utility and energy officials.

Comer and Sessions said in their letter to Criswell they want to get out in front of many of the issues that “hindered and delayed” FEMA after Hurricane Ian leveled parts of Fort Myers and southwest Florida.

“The purpose of the hearing in Ft. Myers was to discuss ongoing needs of the communities in southwest Florida, as well as highlight areas for improvement in the wake of future disasters,” the pair began their letter to Criswell. “We therefore write to highlight certain issues that arose during the hearing and inquire as to what steps are being taken to address them in Hawaii.”

The wildfires killed at least 115 in Maui last month.

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