U.S. Senator Tom Harkin says he agrees with the call of his Iowa colleague that the nation’s drug czar should be fired. Senator Chuck Grassley says the Drug Czar John Walters has failed to do enough to fight methamphetamine.
Harkin says he supports Grassley, “I believe that Mr. Walters has dropped the ball, and he is not focused on the real problems that we have, especially with methamphetamine.” He says Walters has been “a failure” and he supports Grassley’s call for someone new.
While he supports the ouster of the drug czar, Harkin isn’t supporting those who call for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be shut down in light of FEMA’s slow response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Harkin, a democrat, does not go along with that idea.
Harkin says he thinks that’s wrong, and says Iowa had a good response from FEMA when it was run by James Lee Witt, saying FEMA responded immediately. Harkin says part of the problem is that FEMA should’ve been kept as an independent organization.
Harkin says folding FEMA into Homeland Security was the wrong way to go. Harkin says Homeland Security itself is a “debacle.” Harkin says there needs to be two separate entities with Homeland Security dealing with terrorism, port security and biosecurity, while FEMA should deal natural disasters.
Harkin says FEMA needs to be set up as an agency with a “direct line of authority.” He says the agency needs to know that their job is to respond in advance and set up to help with natural disasters.
Harkin says he’s co-sponsoring a bill with Senator Hillary Clinton that would “re-establish FEMA as an independent agency in the executive branch that would require it to have a comprehensive risk-based emergency management program.
And would establish that FEMA would remain the lead agency for the federal response plan.” Harkin says putting FEMA under Homeland Security makes one problem an even bigger problem.