Congressman Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) and Congressman Jared Moskowitz (D-Florida and former Head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management) recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a cabinet-level federal agency. The bipartisan proposal indicates the move will improve FEMA’s ability to prepare, rapidly respond, and recover by removing bureaucratic steps and red tape. 

FEMA currently falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has 22 government agencies under its supervision. The bipartisan legislation would ensure that FEMA would not be required to get approval from DHS before providing disaster relief services and financial support. Instead, they would go straight to the president for approval, cutting out a step during time-sensitive emergencies. 

The legislation also states that the FEMA leader’s title of FEMA Administrator would be replaced with FEMA Director, giving that role the same responsibilities as other Cabinet members. 

“When a disaster threatens, we need action, not bureaucracy,” Rep. Graves said in a September 20, 2023, press release. “I am proud to work on this bipartisan bill with Rep. Moskowitz. It’s long overdue for FEMA to become an independent cabinet-level agency once again.”

“As the first Emergency Management Director ever elected to Congress, I have seen firsthand the challenges faced when responding to emergencies, recovering from them, and mitigating their impacts. That is why, with my colleague Congressman Graves, we have introduced legislation that will remove FEMA from DHS, returning it to being an independent federal agency — as originally intended,”said Moskowitz in the same press release.  

The legislation is currently in the House for committee review. We will continue monitoring and providing updates if the legislation passes through the House and Senate.