It has been well documented how badly FEMA screwed up after Hurricane Katrina and much of the blame was heaped onto then FEMA director Michael Brown. Much of the criticism directed towards Brown dealt with the fact that he had no prior emergency experience and was nothing more than a politically connected Bush crony.
Congress pick up on that fact and wrote legislation into the homeland-security bill that would have established new minimum qualifications that any future FEMA director nominee would have to meet.
The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has “a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management” and “not less than five years of executive leadership.”
You would think that the above qualifications would be a no-brainer for someone tasked with running the department responsible for our country’s emergency responses. But of course, that would be true only if someone other than King George was in the Oval Office.
Using one of his infamous “signing statements”, President Bush said that he could ignore these qualifications because he said that it went against his interpretation of the Constitutional powers of the President to make personnel decisions.
The law, Bush wrote, “purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the president may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office.”
Bush’s signing statement also challenged much more than the FEMA director appointment.
But Bush’s signing statement challenged at least three-dozen laws specified in the bill. Among those he targeted is a provision that empowers the FEMA director to tell Congress about the nation’s emergency management needs without White House permission. This law, Bush said, “purports . . . to limit supervision of an executive branch official in the provision of advice to the Congress.” Despite the law, he said, the FEMA director would be required to get clearance from the White House before telling lawmakers anything.
Again Bush shows his true colors when it comes to signing statements and gaining power because as we all know in his case, no amount of power is enough. Why even bother signing the legislation if you are going to not follow it anyway?