As Hurricane Florence comes barreling toward the Carolinas, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is busy readying their disaster response and putting pieces in place to ensure that the recovery goes as well as humanly possible.
While all of this is happening, President Trump has apparently been diverting funds away from FEMA and to ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), according to a document released by Senator Jeff Merkley on Tuesday.
$9.8 million in funding is being transferred by the Trump administration, away from FEMA and to ICE. With this said, however, a DHS spokesperson says that the funds have nothing to do with disaster relief, meaning it won’t impact FEMA’s ability to help in the recovery of Hurricane Florence or any subsequent hurricanes.
“This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster,” Tyler Q. Houlton, Press Secretary for DHS said.
According to the documents, this is at least partially true. The cuts to FEMA will “curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program.”
On the surface, Houlton appears to be right. Nothing in the cuts will directly affect FEMA’s response to the hurricane, but it is almost impossible to evaluate any potential indirect effects. Training and travel are being affected and undoubtedly FEMA employees need the best training they can get in order to most effectively respond to disasters like Hurricane Florence. Travel is of the utmost importance as well, as FEMA is constantly moving human resources from location to location as need be.
Any way you cut it though, the $9.8 million slash in FEMA’s budget amounts to slightly less than 1% of the agency’s previous $1.03 billion spending budget, meaning that it probably won’t have much impact, if any, on future hurricane relief.
Regardless, it does make you wonder why Trump would be taking any money at all away from FEMA after the disaster we saw in Puerto Rico last year.