Will the Select Committee Finish Its Job?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Will the Select Committee Finish Its Job?

In a column on ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown's appearance Tuesday before the House Select Committee on Katrina, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes:
Rep. Gene Taylor, one of two Democrats who ignored the boycott, said Brown was in way over his head. "You folks fell on your face. You get an F-minus in my book," he attested. The Mississippian added: "Maybe the president made a very good move when he asked you to leave your job."
I agree. Of course, if Rep. Taylor's assessment is accurate, then one could also say that the president made a very bad move when he originally asked Brown to take the job.

Like Milbank, I thought the members on the committee did "a heck of a job on Brownie yesterday." But the shortcomings in the federal response to Katrina can't all be laid at Brown's feet. The select committee has more to do before its job is truly finished.

Brown said he repeatedly talked with officials at the White House about FEMA's needs as it responded to the Katrina destruction. One of the White House officials named by Brown was the president's chief of staff, Andrew Card. Will members of the select committee have the balls to insist that Card appear before them?

And what about Michael Chertoff, who heads the Homeland Security Department? As Brown testified yesterday, it was Chertoff who took a saw to FEMA's budget. Those funding cuts -- probably approved by some of the very members of Congress who on Tuesday gleefully poked and prodded Brown for answers -- may have undermined FEMA's ability to respond.

Yes, the select committee did "a heck of a job" on Brown, but its job is far from completed.

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