Sen. Clinton Favors Federal Disaster Backup Fund, ‘Rebuilding’ FEMA

May 23, 2007

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., campaigning in Florida, said this week the federal government needs to do more to prepare for disasters and that she favors the creation of a national insurance backup fund.

Clinton said Monday that one of the Bush administration’s greatest failings was dismantling how the Federal Emergency Management Agency operated and putting it under the Homeland Security Department.

“We have to rebuild an effective, functioning, qualified emergency system. I think we’ve got to get it out of the Department of Homeland Security, where it’s mired in a dysfunctional bureaucracy,” Clinton said in an interview with The Associated Press.

There needs to be more of a focus on preparing for storms before they hit and not just afterward, she said.

“We’ve got to get back to the point where qualified people can make the decisions that have to be made and we have to exercise prevention and mitigation,” said the New York senator and former first lady, who was in Florida to announce a proposal for a universal pre-kindergarten program.

A few days after a New Orleans trip in which she criticized the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, she came to Florida well-prepared on an issue that is a high priority for Gov. Charlie Crist and the state’s congressional delegation: a national catastrophe insurance fund.

“I hear a lot in Florida about these astronomical costs of insurance for wind damage. It’s apparently beyond the reach of a lot of homeowners and commercial business owners, and we should look and see what we can do on a national basis to try to provide some backup insurance system,” she said.

Beyond hurricanes, she said, the fund could help cover Midwest tornado damage or California earthquakes.

“We can’t put so many millions of people at risk that they can’t afford to meet the insurance requirements. We’ve got to do something,” Clinton said.

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