Senate OKs Paulison as FEMA Chief as Senator Wins Flood Claims Appeal Vow

May 30, 2006

The U.S. Senate confirmed R. David Paulison as FEMA’s chief last Friday, hours after a senator ended his stall on the nomination over problems with the agency’s flood insurance program.

Paulison’s confirmation was part of an unanimous consent agreement as the Senate headed out of town on a one-week recess for Memorial Day.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., had held up action on Paulison’s nomination as a protest against the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s failure to develop an appeals process for property owners whose flood insurance claims are rejected. FEMA administers the flood insurance program.

But with a call and a letter from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who promised to get an appeals process in place, Bunning agreed to end his stall, his spokesman said. Chertoff’s department oversees FEMA.

FEMA “didn’t really seem to get interested in establishing the appeals process until the senator put the hold on,” said Bunning spokesman Mike Reynard.

Bunning’s delaying tactic had been the last issue holding up Paulison’s nomination.

On Thursday, Paulison pledged to refile three years of tax returns to correct travel deductions that were questioned by the Senate Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee that was considering his nomination. The panel, which oversees FEMA, approved his nomination by a voice vote Thursday afternoon with hopes of seeing him confirmed by the June 1 start of the 2006 hurricane season.

Paulison has served as acting FEMA director since September, taking over the beleaguered agency two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. He has had a three-decade-long firefighting career, including a stint as chief of the Miami-Dade County fire department and head of the U.S. Fire Administration.

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