Nathan Stubbs

NYT: 'Doin' a heck of a job, Vitter'

by Nathan Stubbs

The New York Times is calling on Sen. David Vitter to “get out of the way” when it comes to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Craig Fugate as the next director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Nominated by Obama two months ago, Fugate, who was appointed as Florida’s emergency management director by former Gov. Jeb Bush, enjoys bipartisan support and is widely regarded as eminently qualified. Vitter is using a procedural tactic to hold up Fugate’s nomination because he says he wants answers from FEMA on why it is denying rebuilding assistance to projects in Grand Isle (more on that here). Vitter says he will lift his hold on the nomination once he gets a satisfactory response on FEMA's policy.
Vitter has already been admonished by the White House and Senate colleagues for holding up the FEMA director nomination just weeks before hurricane season starts. Vitter has since sent out a campaign e-mail to supporters responding to the criticism. Today, in an editorial titled, ‘doin a heck of a job Senator’ — a reference to former President George W. Bush’s infamous quote praising ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown (or Brownie, as Bush called him) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — The Times writes:

It’s a no-brainer that the cause of FEMA management and all disaster-related issues will be better addressed once Mr. Fugate takes the helm. Other senators in vulnerable states are rightly chafing at Mr. Vitter’s “hold.” One fellow Republican, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, wisely warns that Mr. Vitter is practicing “dangerous politics” as the storm season brews. Mr. Fugate, he says, “needs to be in there.”

The Gulf Coast’s post-Katrina problems remain legion, as Shaila Dewan of The Times reported after visiting some of the thousands in Louisiana who are still without rebuilt homes. Mr. Fugate is a proven professional. That is what Louisiana and the rest of the nation need before the next hurricane hits. Senator Vitter should get out of the way.