Jared Moskowitz files bill to again make FEMA a Cabinet-level agency

Jared Moskowitz
It’s been under the Department of Homeland Security for 2 decades.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz knows a thing or two about emergency management, and he believes it’s high time that the federal agency responsible for handling disasters nationwide regains its position in the President’s Cabinet.

Now, Moskowitz and Republican U.S. Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana have introduced legislation to make that happen.

The bill would remove the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and again make it a Cabinet-level agency. It’s titled the “FEMA Independence Act of 2023.”

Moskowitz, who earned bipartisan praise for his leadership of the Florida Division of Emergency Management at the height of the pandemic, said the move will make FEMA faster and more responsive.

“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,” he said in a statement. “That is why … we have introduced legislation that will remove FEMA from DHS, returning it to being an independent federal agency — as it was originally intended.”

Former President Jimmy Carter created FEMA through an executive order in 1979. He gave the agency a dual mission of emergency management and civil defense.

Its authorities grew in 1988 later under the Stafford Act. Five years later, former President Bill Clinton elevated then-FEMA Director James Lee Witt’s position to Cabinet-level status.

Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, did not continue the policy. Through the signing of the Homeland Security Act, he placed the agency and 21 others under the newly created DHS in 2003.

But as rising global temperatures lead to unprecedented hurricane, wildfire and flood activity, “there is no doubt that in the future FEMA will be busier than ever,” Moskowitz said. Graves agreed.

“When disaster threatens, we need action not bureaucracy. Having FEMA buried within the Department of Homeland Security only contributes to delays, lack of action, and do-loops,” Graves said in a statement. “This experiment of putting FEMA under the Secretary of Homeland Security has failed. They can’t even handle the border.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at Jess[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn