House Republicans launch probe into Biden administration's handling of the Maui wildfires

"President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most," the letter reads.

Published: September 15, 2023 11:39am

Updated: September 15, 2023 11:40am

House Republicans on Friday announced the start of a probe into the Biden administration's handling of the devastating wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. 

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) wrote a letter to FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, announcing the probe. 

"To ensure locals are receiving the assistance they need, and taxpayer dollars being used effectively, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is taking action and seeking information from FEMA on all ongoing recovery efforts in Maui," the letter reads. "The Oversight Committee has a responsibility to ensure FEMA is utilizing every tool at their disposal efficiently and will work to ensure FEMA delivers assistance in a seamless, swift timeframe."

The letter raises concerns about a possible delayed federal response, how Federal Emergency Management Agency employees were allegedly staying in luxury hotels there and multiple people could not contact the agency shortly after the disaster. 

“The deadly wildfire in Maui shocked the nation and left many, especially those directly impacted by the tragedy, with serious questions that remain unanswered today," the letter also reads. "President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most."

Biden attracted considerable scrutiny for his response to the crisis. While on vacation in Delaware the president offered a curt "no comment" to questions about the death and destruction from the blaze.

He also announced one-time $700 payments to families affected by the fire, which critics have blasted as meager and contrasted with the sum of federal funds the administration has sent to Ukraine.

The Aug. 8 wildfires resulted in the death of at least 115 people and essential destroyed the historic resort town of Lahaina.

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