WASHINGTON – During the nomination hearing for Chad Wolf to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) pressed for answers on the Department’s work to address threats from ISIS and shortcomings in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts to ensure schools and communities have the personal protective equipment that they need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
Senator Hassan stated, “ISIS and affiliated forces are gaining strength worldwide, launching more than 100 attacks in Iraq last month, seizing more land in Afghanistan, and increasing threats on the African continent. This potential resurgence of ISIS in the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan is alarming and we obviously can’t ignore it.”
Senator Hassan asked for details on what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to address these threats, and Wolf discussed some of the ways that it is working in coordination with foreign allies on counterterrorism efforts.
The discussion followed up on threats that Senator Hassan discussed with top officials during her trip to Afghanistan last year, and Senator Hassan is continuing to work on bipartisan efforts to strengthen the Department of Homeland Security Visa Security Program.
In addition, Senator Hassan raised concerns over how FEMA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, is handling personal protective equipment needs.
Senator Hassan called on Wolf to commit to reversing FEMA’s decision to deny reimbursement to schools for personal protective. As Senator Hassan discussed, schools across the country are facing unanticipated expenses because FEMA will not cover personal protective equipment and other key needs.
“In New Hampshire, the communities of Salem and Londonderry must now find another way to pay for $350,000 in COVID-related expenses,” said Senator Hassan. “There has been a bipartisan outcry urging FEMA to reconsider this position. These are obviously extraordinary times, and schools need this support to help ensure that students, teachers, and their families can be safe if they are able to return to the classroom.”
Wolf did not commit to changing the policy. Wolf also failed to address concerns that Senator Hassan discussed on FEMA’s lack of transparency with Congress and the American people on projections for personal protective equipment and other medical supply needs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“It has been very difficult, for instance, to get precise information about projections for instance on the amount of PPE needed…I think it’s really imperative that we be able to exercise oversight and get precision from you all,” said Senator Hassan.