tv Confirmation Hearing for Pres. Bidens Nominees CSPAN November 22, 2021 10:02am-12:02pm EST
communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> coming up next, a senate confirmation hearing for president biden's nominees, including the deputy administrator of fema, rector of the postal realtor commission and comptroller of the office of federal management. several nominees for the superior court of the district of columbia also testified. this is about two hours.
important to the federal government and to our nation's capital. i am pleased we are considering highly qualified nominees for each of these roles and in particular for several roles that have been vacant for far too long. fema has been without a senate confirmed deputy minister eight or for nearly two years -- deputy administrator for nearly two years. additionally, the d.c. superior court is struggling with high vacancy levels. there are currently 14 associate judge vacancies on the court and i'm glad we have two nominees the superior court today. we hope to see several other seats filled shortly. thank you for your willingness to serve and for being with us today. i look forward to hearing from each of our nominees. i will recognize ranking member portman for his opening comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to commend the nominees for stepping up to serve the public, both in the federal
government and the d.c. government. mr. hooks, you come to us with more than 30 years of public service, in law enforcement, public safety and -- your experience working with fema, the leading emergency management at the federal level, but also doing that at the state level. it is critical background for someone, to help lead the agency. i'm sure that you saw an elitist legislation, -- saw in the latest legislation, there is funding for the building resilient infrastructure in committees program. this is a good program and it will make your job a lot different and will ultimately help the taxpayer and citizens who live in areas that are prone to natural disasters. it will help you mitigate
disasters before they strike. if confirmed, i hope you will use her experience to ensure that it is used in a strategic way for exactly those purposes, to target those with the highest one her abilities to disasters -- highest vulnerabilities to disasters. -- plays a very important role in promoting transparency and accountability in our postal system, including examining the postal service financial data and ensuring it follows the law in setting prices. over the past two years, the importance of the postal service to our supply chain has stood out and the postal service faces a difficult situation as first class mail has continued to decline, so it is a time of change. i know this is your second nomination to the posterior tory commission.
you have already served as commissioner for nearly two years -- second nomination to the postal regulatory commission. you have already served as commissioner for nearly two years. ms. blatchford, i enjoyed our conversation over the telephone. as you know, i think this is an incredibly important position of comptroller in the office of federal management, omb. i think it is one of the most important positions in the federal government as the government addresses the significant economic and other issues that face our country. as a former omb director, i was very reliant on the person in this position, and i understand it is important to our federal government's proper functioning. so important that congress placed specific qualifications on the position established in the u.s. code.
the comptroller is required to possess a demonstrated ability and practical experience in accounting, financial management and financial systems and extensive practical experience in financial management in large governmental or business entities. i look forward to discussing how you meet these requirements for the position of comptroller and if you are confirmed, i look forward to working with you on improving transparency in the federal government and better access for all taxpayers to the accountability that comes from more information. to judge scott and mr. -- both of you have spent your entire career in public service as i see, and i appreciate your willingness to serve as judges. congress has a unique
relationship with the d.c. justices as outlined in the house home rule act. there are important issues facing d.c., including rising crime. there have been significant more homicides, assaults and armed robberies. it is one reason we need impartial qualified judges on the d.c. superior court, to ensure timely justice for all parties. i look forward to discussing this and other issues. >> thank you ranking member portman. in practice of this committee to swearing witnesses, if each of our witnesses will stand, including those joining us via zoom. rise and raise your right hands. yusor the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? you may be seated. our first nominee is the nominee
for deputy minister eight or of fema. he has more than 30 years of public safety experience, including serving as secretary of public safety and and homeland security adviser for the state of north carolina. as secretary, he led north carolina's largest department which includes the state's emergency management agency, office of recovery and resilience, the north: a national guard and several law enforcement agencies. prior to his tenure as secretary, mr. hooks served for 28 years in the north carolina state bureau of investigation for he held several leadership roles, including head of the threat assessment and state asset investigations unit. welcome mr. hooks. you may proceed with your opening remarks. >> good morning, chairman peters, ranking member portman and distinguished members of the committee. my name is erik hooks and it is
a privilege to appear before you today as the president's nominee for deputy minister eight or of fema. i am honored to have been nominated by president biden for this leadership role. i am humbled by the opportunity to appear before this committee and thank you for considering my nomination. if confirmed, i look forward to working with secretary mayorkas and the entire team at fema and the department of fallen security on building a more resilient and prepared nation. i would like to thank my wife for 30 years and our son brandon, who has sacrificed along with me in my deep commitment to public service and a career in public safety. i would also like to acknowledge the committeemen and women of fema -- committed men and women of fema, the military and local
public safety departments who work tirelessly to protect and lead recovery efforts for multiple hazards across our great nation. if confirmed, it will be my privilege to again work alongside these resolute public safety professionals. i spent over 30 years serving the state of north carolina first as a special agent and a senior leader of the state bureau of investigation for over 27 years. in january 2017, the governor appointed me as secretary of public safety and homeland security advisor for north carolina. over the last 40 years -- four years in that role, i led north carolina's disaster mitigation, response and recovery efforts in an increasing number of natural disasters. i had the privilege to lead approximately 27,000 sworn and civilian public safety professionals as well as approximately 12,000 national guard soldiers and airmen.
i provided cabinet level leadership to the north carolina division of emergency management and its homeland security section, the north carolina national guard, the north carolina office of recovery and resilience, the north: a state highway patrol, the north carolina alcohol law enforcement division, and ocalan estate capitol police, the division of adult correction in juvenile justice, the governor's crime commission and support divisions within the department of public safety. i was ultimately responsible for leadership coordination of homeland security and emergency management functions to provide comprehensive and coordinated preparedness, mitigation, prevention, protection, response and recovery for emergencies, disasters and acts or threats of terrorism. as the leader of north carolina's state and this rate of agency, i have ministered federal funds to state and local and tribal entities across north
carolina. i also chaired the emergency response commission and through a tele team of professionals, coordinated law enforcement, counterterrorism prevention, preparedness and response training on a statewide basis, resulting in a cohesive team response by both law enforcement and emergency first responders to acts of terrorism or a terrorist threat. i recently served on the executive committee of the national governor's homeland security advisor's counsel and i am a member of the international association of chiefs of police. today we face a multitude of challenges which must be successfully navigated through a proactive and collaborative effort to ensure fema can deliver needed critical services to the nation. during my tenure as the north carolina secretary of public safety, we responded to numerous disasters, including a number of state declared disasters as well as presidentially declared disasters.
my public service experience prepares me for the position of fema deputy emmett's trader -- deputy administrator. a true culture of prevention, protection and preparedness. we must work collaboratively across all levels of government and segments of society to ready our nation for the many hazards we face, and to ensure our nation's resiliency for catastrophic events. if confirmed, it would be my honor to serve our nation by helping all communities reduce the risk associated with future disasters while assisting disasters is not -- disaster survivors across the country. i am committed to work tirelessly and with a deep sense of purpose to ready the nation for catastrophic disasters, build a culture of preparedness and reduce the complexity of fema. with your consent, i would be honored to serve the american
people. thank you for your time and attention concerning my nomination, and i look forward to answering any questions you have. >> mr. hooks, thank you for your opening comments. next up is the nominee to serve a second term as commissioner on the postal regulatory commission. they have served on the commission since january of 2019 after being unanimously confirmed by the senate. he served as the commission's vice chairman from august 2019 through the end of 2020 and has served as chairman since january of 2021. -- as a -- before that he held multiple roles with the u.s. postal service office of the inspector general, including overseeing research on technical issues and postal economics and serving as director of government relations. welcome mr. kubayanda.
you may proceed with your opening comments. >> good morning chairman peter, ranking member portman and ranking members of the committee. i have been honored to serve as a commissioner from january 2019 and as chairman since january 2021. the postal system has undergone significant changes. the postal service has served its mission of finding the nation together during the pandemic. postal workers kept americans connected, allowed businesses to reach customers and enabled citizens to safely receive supplies and carry out elections. on the other hand, customers reported low performance in some areas and the quantitative evidence confirmed this. the commission has carried out its mission of providing transparency and accountability. the commission produced two
annual compliance determinations on time during the pandemic, overseeing service and financial compliance. we also issued measurable makings on a bipartisan basis, including the review of the ratemaking system and cost allocation. in addition, we have increased the mission focus on customer experience by probing postal service performance against metrics adopted from the private sector. over the years, the commission has mastered the annual compliance cycle established under 1970 and 2006 legislation. while these tools are proven, they may not be entirely adequate for our present situation and the speed of commerce today. for example, the high-profile service problems in the 2020 holiday season occurred in fiscal year 2021. they will be addressed in the 2021 annual compliance determination but that won't be out until march of 2022, 15 to 16 months after the problem was
originally -- after the problem has originally occurred. the commission is capable of providing transparency through more relevant analyses. working with my colleagues, i am doing everything in my power to make sure we provide them. our traditional tools for providing accountability and transparency must be updated with a data centric customer centric and citizen centric approach. this modernization is guided by bipartisan legislation approved by this committee and the needs of the moment. it is also modeled on other parts of the government, such as the postal service office of inspector general. the commission is currently opening -- the commission will hire its first chief data officer and establish a data governments board to make data available to the public in machine-readable formats and manage data as a strategic asset to the nation. the commission is also reorganizing its staff to launch a small data analytics group to
invent ash to examine the postal network, address bottlenecks and conduct studies of the postal cost. this team will build on our prior work identifying pinch points in the postal network. pending internal approvals, the commission is working on new data visualization approaches such as a beta version of a performance dashboard on our website. dashboards can provide more understandable and timely insights in service performance and eventually into financial performance as well. the proposed dashboard is the result of work performed in-house by our enterprising staff with no additional investment. these are modest but necessary in modernizing postal regulation. . to support this approach, the commission has expanded its technological capabilities. we have hired i.t. and cybersecurity experts and are using cloud computing to support cost savings. the commission also applied to the technology but on his asian
fund bolster these efforts. strategic use of data and technology can update the commission's traditional mission of transparency and accountability. it allows the commission to benefit from better informed disciplines and -- through this data centric customer centric and citizen centric approach, i hope the commission can contribute to a virtuous cycle, continue to make this corner of government more responsive and adapt postal regulation to improve services to american citizens and businesses. i hope to return to the commission to help it execute on this approach. thank you for considering my nomination, and i look forward to answering your questions. >> mr. kubayanda, thank you for your opening remarks. our next nominee is laurel blatchford, nominated to be comptroller for the office of federal management within the office of management and budget. she has over 20 years of
nonprofit and leadership experience including serving as the chief of staff of the department of housing and urban development and executive director of the hurricane sandy task force where she guided the implementation of disaster resilience funding across new york and new jersey. she is currently a managing director at blue meridian partners, a nonprofit and philanthropic organization that invests in economic and social mobility, nationwide. prior to joining blue meridian, she served as president of enterprise committee partners, a national nonprofit focused on affordable housing and community element. welcome, miss blatchford. you may proceed with your opening remarks. >> thank you. chairman peters, reiki member portman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as president biden's nominee. i am deeply humbled to have been nominated for this important
role, and will be honored to have the chance to serve the american people of confirmed. i want to thank my husband of 21 years and our two children for their love and support. i know he and they are watching alongside many friends. thank you all for your love and support. i set before you today because i am at heart a public servant. this calling comes directly from my parents. i father was an accomplished teacher and school administrator, whose leadership impacted the lives of many kids and their families. my mother is also an educator and community leader who has shared the challenges and blessings of her own lived experience as a deaf woman, to help others in countless ways. there lives of purpose and service have had an incredible impact on those around them and i am deeply grateful for their example. i started my own public service career as a young paralegal in manhattan investigating organized crime. since then, my path has taken me
from working on a wide range of objects in the new york city mayor's office for mayor bloomberg to a leadership role in the largest affordable housing agency locally in the country, to then serving as chief of staff at the united states department of urban housing and of element and then director of the hurricane sandy task force. i served as president of the enterprise committee partners. along the way, i have the honor of working on a wide range of issues including 9/11 recovery, our ongoing housing crisis, the many management challenges facing us and recovery from natural disasters, include in hurricane katrina, superstorm sandy and more recent storms and wildfires. across these different roles, one lesson has shown through. no matter how much money we have been able to invest, the success of every project i've ever been involved with is dependent on how the work is done. i have seen time and time again, that strong ample mentation with
transparency, efficiency, consistency and strong partnerships is essential to success, especially in the public sector. great ideas without great execution are not enough. if confirmed, i would bring my track record of delivering results to the unique and unprecedented challenges and opportunities we are facing right now, as a country. just as i have done before, i am here to serve and bring my energy and capabilities to ensuring the federal government works more effectively and efficiently for the american people and specifically there are considerable financial resources and investments being deployed, tracked and spent as well as possible. i would be honored to serve along the staff at the office of management and budget, some of whom i've had the privilege of working with during my prior federal service. if confirmed, i would be honored to join this team, to lead over them and work closely with
leaders across the federal family and with congress to ensure we accomplish our shared goals. thank you for the chance to appear before you today, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. next we will have a video from a congresswoman to introduce our two final nominees, both nominated to be associate judges on the superior court for the district of columbia. >> chairman peters and ranking number portman, i appreciate the opportunity to introduce mr. scott and -- to be associate judges on the superior court of the district of columbia. both bring the experience and prevention -- experience to be excellent judges. mr. scott currently serves as a magistrate judge on the d.c. superior court, having been
appointed in january 2020. prior to being a magistrate judge, he served as the deputy director of the d.c. mayors's office of legal counsel. in that position, she provided legal advice to the mayor and d.c. agencies. prior to that work, miss scott was a general counsel on the d.c. office of human rights, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the legal division. miss scott has also served as assistant attorney general and acting section chief in the office of the d.c. attorney general. prior to her public service work, miss scott worked in private practice alongside -- as a civil litigator and a clerk for the d.c. court of appeals.
she has also served as an adjunct professor of law at the american university college of law. i am also pleased to introduce -- to be an associate judge on the d.c. superior court. they are a career attorney in the civil rights division of the united states the part of justice. in this position, she has spent two decades enforcing important civil rights laws such as the fair housing act and the civil rights act. she has received special achievement awards and is a three-time recipient of special commendations for outstanding performance. during her time with the department of justice, she was
an assistant state public defender -- before their time with the depalma and of justice, they were an assistant state public defender, litigating criminal appeals on behalf of individuals. a graduate of morehouse college, also holding a masters in public policy from the kennedy school of government. i appreciate the committee moving these nominees and i look forward to working with you to end the vacancy crisis. >> welcome judge scott and mr. tanaj. judge scott, you may proceed with your opening remarks. i think you are on mute right now.
the judge is still on mute? >> judge scott, we understand the recording studio is having the issue. we will see if the other nominee's sound is working. >> thank you. good morning. chairman peters, ranking number portman and numbers of this committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i am deeply grateful to you and
your dedicated committee staffers for considering my nomination. i would also like to extend my gratitude to the entire nomination commission and specifically its chair, emmett g sullivan, for recommending me. i think joseph biden for nominating me to be an associate judge of the superior court of the district of columbia. i extend my gratitude and appreciation to congresswoman elinor holmes norton for her kind words. this nomination and the opportunity to be -- two at -- opportunity to appear before you today are easily the highest honors of my professional career. i sit before you today buttressed by the support of my extended family, classmates, close friends and colleagues.
through unwavering support, they have been toured, supported and encouraged me in life and throughout my career. i offer special mention to my husband, whose commitment and dedication formed a fulcrum that allows me to successfully balance work, family and coparenting our four-year-old son. guiding and being a loving and caring parent is the internal commitment of my life. my mother, a formerly retired public educator who returned to her career in education because it is more accurately her life's calling is washing with great enthusiasm and unbridled love and support from fort lauderdale, florida. i would also like to offer special recognition to my late
father, a veteran of the united states marines and retired public school educator who was known affectionately as don. i am my father's namesake and his unconditional and unswerving support uplifted and motivated me during his lifetime while the memory of his unconditional love has been a personal and private comfort since his passing. the entirety of my professional career has been in pursuit of fair process and equal treatment . since 2000, i have had the honor and privilege serving as a career trial attorney in the united states department of justice, where i have represented the united states in enforcing statutes that ensure full and fair participation of all citizens in material activities such as housing,
employment and the constitutional right to be secure in their persons and effects. during my two decades career as a trial attorney, i appeared in district courts in more than 10 states and i dutifully executed and served under five different presidential administrations. prior to joining the department of justice, i worked as an assistant public defender, in trial proceedings but were fair and constitutionally compliant. in my professional excipients, i practice as a civil litigator, criminal prosecutor, i have appeared in state appellate courts and federal district courts. in each role, and in every appearance, i have advocated for equality under law and procedural fairness. if i am granted the honor of
confirmation, those will be my guideposts as i seek to ensure fair and impartial and administration of justice. in closing, i would like to restate my sincere gratitude to you mr. chairman, and every memory of the committee for considering my nomination, and i look forward to answering any questions you may have of me. >> thank you mr. tunnage, for your comments. judge scott, you are recognized for your opening comments. >> thank you, chairman peters. are you able to hear me? >> loud and clear. >> fantastic. thank you again, good morning to you and to your ranking member, thank you for holding this hearing today, as well as the committee staff stop iq to congress woman eleanor holmes norton for her kind remarks.
i would like to thank the judicial nomination commission and emmett sullivan for recommending me to the white house and i would like to especially thank president joseph biden for this tremendous honor of his nomination. as maya angelou has said, i should not travel the road that led me here today alone. i would like to thank and acknowledge my court family, and particular the chief of the superior court of the district of columbia, and my mentor, chief judge and a blackbird rigney of the district of columbia court of appeals, for their immeasurable support. i am truly fortunate to have the support not only of makeup -- not only of my colleagues present and past, but of my hands and family members. many of whom are watching virtually and all of whom i am
deeply -- deeply -- deeply grateful to. i would like to recognize my husband and thank my husband, my soulmate. his love has been enduring and his encouragement and understanding has been absolutely endless. i would like to recognize my maternal grandmother and my grandfather who i affectionately refer to as grandpapa. they are watching from my hometown of buffalo, new york stop thank you for your support and most importantly, for your love. i would like to recognize my father-in-law and my mother-in-law, who along with many others i suspect are watching. out from my second home in south carolina. i would also like to recognize my husband's mother who passed away in 1996. although i never had the pleasure or the owner of meeting
my husband's mother, her spirit is with me and i honor her memory today. i would like to tell you a little bit about my background. my mother who is watching from home, is my hero. my mother had me as a teenager and even though she had many hurdles to cross as a result of being a teenage mother, she always modeled -- as i have told my mother many times over the years, the pride that wells up in her when she looks at me is the same pride that wells up in me when i look at her. my father who we lost at a very young age to covid at the very beginning of the covid and i make was also a source of strength for me, and a man of dignity and valor, having served our country as a marine.
my maternal grandmother, we lost just a few months after my father and she was also a source of strength and encouragement. my grandmother is still -- instilled in me the pursuit of excellence which i have carried with me every step of my career, including in my -- as a magistrate judge on the superior court. i have presided over -- dutifully applying the law to the facts and serving the court with respect. prior to my service on the court, i was a civil trial attorney and assistant attorney general for the office of the attorney general for the district of columbia and i saw a variety of matters in the superior court over nine years. i also served as -- and worked on personnel matters affecting
government employees and district agencies. i began my career at a district law firm on the d.c. court of appeals and i regularly regard that internship as the heart of my career. i assure the committee by broad range of professional syrians has well-equipped me to be a fair and thoughtful associate judge should i be confirmed. i love this city and have built my personal and professional life here. it would be an honor of a lifetime to continue to give back to this city that has given me so much. i look forward to answering your questions. thank you. >> thank you judge scott. we now have three questions that the committee asks of every nominee, and i'm going to ask each of our nominees to answer briefly with just a yes or no to these questions. we will start with mr. hawkes
and then work -- mr. hooks and then worked on the line. -- then work down the line. is there anything you are aware of in your background that might present a conflict of interest with the duties of the office which you have been nominated? >> no sir. no sir. >> no sir. >> no. >> no senator. >> no senator. >> second, do you know of anything, personal or otherwise that would in any way prevent you from fully and honorably discharging the responsibilities of the office to which you have been nominated? >> no sir. >> no, mr. chairman. >> no, senator. >> no, senator. >> no, senator. >> lastly, do you agree without
reservation to comply with any request or summons to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of congress if you are confirmed? >> yes sir. >> i do. >> yes, of course. >> yes, senator. >> yes, senator. >> thank you. the first question is for you, mr. hooks. fema's response efforts have unfortunately been plagued by disparities affecting individuals from underserved communities, including individuals from rural and low income communities, as well as individuals with disabilities. fema's 2020 national advisory council, led by the chief of the texas division of emergency management found and i quote, by perpetually assisting larger communities that already have considerable resources, the smaller less resource rich,
less affluent committee -- communities cannot access funding to appropriate leap repair for a disaster, leading to inequity -- leading to inadequate spots and recovery. -- inadequate response and recovery. -- all americans no matter where they live, no matter who they are, have access to equitable disaster recovery so my question for you is i would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and i want to know, yes or no and any detail you want to provide, that if confirmed, you will commit to working with me on this issue and making sure that fema is indeed prioritizing equity in all of its programs and in all of its activities? >> thank you for the question. it is extremely important that fema serves all communities that are eligible for services. often times those committees that can afford it the least and those underserved communities
are the ones that suffer the most damage and the consequences from disasters. through the last few years, i think that both the federal government and state and localities have really increased the view of looking at all programs through a lens of equity and if confirmed, i look forward to contributing to that process and certainly support the view that all communities should be served as evidenced by my opening statement. i also have wide experience with this in north carolina, where we have some very thriving robust communities such as in charlotte and raleigh, but we also have some very rural communities as well and i have certainly seen firsthand, the devastation that disasters have taken a toll on those communities, and i bring with me a set of experiences and partnerships that i believe i can bring a strategic viewpoint
to those if confirmed in the position of deputy director to fema. >> thank you. mr. kubayanda, as the postal services regulator, the postal regulatory commission plays a key role in monitoring whether the postal service is meeting its on-time delivery goals and holding it accountable to the standards of service, as you know very well. how have you worked to hold the postal service accountable for its service performance and if confirmed for another term, how will you continue to advance transparency and accountability for customers? >> thank you for the question. the postal regulatory commission has very well-established processes for holding the postal service accountable, through the annual compliance process. we oversee the postal service's compliance and i think we have done an excellent job over the
years, of finding the issues in the postal network and building towards a system of transparency and accountability in the postal system. as we go forward, i think there are some measures and steps we can take to improve transparency in the postal system and there are three initiatives we have going on in that area of transparency. one is in open data initiative and data analytics initiative and that also data visualization . these are small-scale initiatives that we have a chance to eventually scale up to hold the postal service more accountable. we are currently implanting compliance with the open data -- open government data act which includes bringing on a chief data officer. that will allow us to look at postal service service performance over time, to create some centralization of data and make data available to the
public and stakeholders in machine-readable formats. what they can do is allow us to get better informed inputs from stakeholders into our compliance processes and hold the postal service accountable. also that saturday's asian will help make us more organized in terms of our use of data as well, and so i think all of those contribute to modernizing our standard compliance efforts. >> miss blatchford, as you know, the act -- is a landmark step to ensuring that the federal government reduces improper payments and cuts down on waste, rod and abuse in the federal program and benefits delivery from the federal government. my question for you is if you are confirmed as a comptroller, what will be your top priorities for accelerating implementation of this act and improving the government's ability to stop
improper payments? >> thank you for this question. it is an incredibly important topic, given the amount of money being invested in supporting our recovery from this pandemic stopped i am very much aware that the payment integrity and information act was passed and the limitation of that is underway. if confirmed, look forward to working with the office to understand where the gaps might be. my guess is because of the size of the investment, that we are making collectively, that there are real areas to string and and focus. another thing i've seen time and time again in my work, thinking about the hurricane sandy task force, moving money quickly into communities is very important, but it has to be balanced with a focus on payment integrity, and so the best way to do that, i think in particular is to focus on prevention, the reduction at the beginning of the payment cycle, so that would be a
primary focus, catching waste, fraud and abuse later down the chain is important that the best way to do that is to lean into that prevention and there are a number of tools that have been developed by omb in partnership with the cfo counsel and other members of the oversight community to really ensure that the tools are out there to allow agencies to focus as much as possible on prevention of improper payments as a part of that. i look forward to working with you if confirmed. >> thank you. ranking member portman, you are recognized your questions. >> mr. hooks, we talk about what fema's role is, in terms of resilience. i know that as head of the carolina department of public safety, you have a lot of experience with natural disasters. i mentioned we recently passed this legislation that provides another $1 billion in funding for bric, the building resilient
infrastructure and committees program. making sure the taxpayer money is that are spent -- is better spent to avoid the devastation of a hurricane, as you have had in your state or a tornado or other floods or fires and so on. have you worked with bric? >> yes. thank you for the question. through our very experienced emergency management team in north carolina, north carolina has successfully navigated the early rollout of the bric program. it is my view that with sustainable funding, the bric program can be transformative to the states and consummately to the nation. the bric program focuses on a necessary tool that we should be utilizing more, and that is mitigation. it is accepted that the investment of every one dollar a
mitigation can save us six dollars on the backend. we have stood up a robust protocol to address the bric funding in north carolina that operates at the state level and partners with fema. it has been instrumental to our success and also the buildout of the cover he and resiliency to work with our local communities to help build a more resilient north carolina and nation. >> again, conceptually it is a great idea. in 2020, about $1.5 million has gone out there and i'm glad you are working with it. should you be confirmed, i hope you will work with us to improve the program further and probably some lessons from norcal and i would be helpful in that. would you commit to doing that? >> yes or. i -- yes sir.
i commit to working with you and break that any barriers we have to be successful. >> this committee has spent a lot of time on helping to push back against hateful attacks on religious organizations -- the nonprofit secured grant program, and we've made prepared as grants available over the last several years and this year we doubled the funding, split evenly. are you aware of this program or have you used it in north carolina? >> as a state in a straight up agent as well as the homeland security advisor, i had signed off authority -- sign authority on development of those grants as far as the administration in north carolina. we were successful in north carolina, and bringing not just the emergency management entity which the money would flow through from fema, but bringing law enforcement and intelligence
resources in partnership with those communities so that we could adequately protect faith-based institutions through this process, and we have navigated that program pretty successfully. >> as you may know, some states have used it more effectively than others and north carolina has been aggressive in using it. it sounds like the state of ohio has been successful in figuring out ways to put it to work so we are glad you support it and we look forward to working with you on ensuring that the funding we are providing is spent most effectively. with regard to the comptroller position, miss blatchford, we talked about this in person. you have a great deal of expertise and experience in the housing sector as an example, but you are not up for secretary. you are up for another job which is one that is just a hard-core financial management, auditing, accounting job.
i mentioned earlier the u.s. code and what it requires this job to have, and mr. did ability and practical extreme in financial management and systems and large governmental or business entities. i know you don't have a cpa but regarding accounting, do you have any practical experience as this calls for? >> thank you for that question. thank you for the conversation yesterday. i don't have training in accounting, but i would pull back a bit to say a couple things about why i do think i'm qualified for this role. first, as experienced nonprofit and government leader of large teams, i have by definition and a subsidy deeply involved myself in financial management, everything from budget development and execution, financial management of systems, enterprise risk management, auditing and i have learned to
the point you made about practical experience, that i can deeply engage myself in those details as needed, but i also learned to rely on the expertise of those around me. most leaders know that you don't have every technical skill in your toolkit but you can often rely on your team for the areas you may not have and everything i have heard about the omb team is that they are extraordinary and would be supportive in that particular area. i would also say i think this is a question about what we need is a country right now and i think from my perspective, i would bring the strategic vision and ability to support and work with the technical experts on my team, but really drawing on the expertise and experience i have had navigated the input from accounting and financial management to make the right decisions with organization -- make the right decisions for the organization i am working for. >> i have a hard time squaring
what the requirements are and it is true that as a leader, you rely on others but the reason this statute was written that way and knowing the job, having the expertise and experience is really important for the leader. can you explain the federal credit reform act and how you see this impacting how federal credit programs cockily leverage? >> it is my understanding that they assessed decisions in terms of current and proposed programs and that of valuation is made by the book budget review division of the omb but as we discussed yesterday, i understand where you're coming from on this larger question, and had some experience working on this. we look forward if confirmed, to looking -- working with you and others at omb to address any concerns you might have about current or future programs as it relates to the reform act.
>> that -- thank you, my time has retire -- thank you, my time has expired. >> --, you are now recognized for your questions. >> thanks, mr. chairman. to our witnesses and nominees before us, welcome. i do we want to take a moment to highlight that we have two d.c. superior court nominees before us with judge scott and mr. tunnage? before i was fortunate enough to be elected to the united states senate, i spent a lot of time nominating. i gave a lot of time and thought to people and nominative to serve on the bench in delaware and some still do.
i think we have before us today, vacancies on the d.c. superior court that have been vacant for two years in one case and in another, more than five and i think it is disgraceful and the idea that it is on us in the senate, it is on the current administration and the previous administration. i would like to say justice denied is justice delayed. . we had many nominees and we just sat on them for years. one of the reasons i pushed several years for d.c. statehood -- the district of columbia which
has more people than many of our states and pays taxes and we get these judicial nominees and just sit on them for years and it is one more reason why we should consider legislation that would propose d.c. statehood. that is a story for another day. secretary hooks, great to have you with us. we think of you -- loves north carolina but you heard me say the other day we talked about leadership, and most importantly, the success of the organization. i've been around delaware and for an organization to be successful -- dedicated,
committed andas the secretary oc safety in north carolina, i understand you led about 30,000 civilian employees, about the time of the civilian workforce in delaware including educators. 40,000 government employees and national guard soldiers. reflecting on this experience and other leadership roles you have had throughout your distinguished career in public safety and law enforcement, what are some of the hallmarks that have affected your judgment, projected of the when it comes to coordinating emergency preparedness. go ahead. >> thank you. it was an honor to speak with you yesterday as well. i'm a firm believer leadership can translate across many domains, both state and to this position as deputy administrator is confirmed.
one of the things i look at as a hallmark is making the time and effort to commit the time and investment in the people that are carrying out that mission. i view both the staff that i had in north carolina and potential staff that i may have it confirmed at fema as part of the article infrastructure, the most important -- critical infrastructure, the most important aspect are the people that make it up. we have to invest in those individuals to ensure that they have a culture where they feel they can thrive, that they can grow and that they can be successful. leaders have to invest in those individuals often at the demise of their own self-interest. i do believe that shared sacrifice these people make to secure our nation and preserve our freedoms in north carolina
are extremely important and should be recognized that. we want to create a culture and climate of success and promote diversity and inclusion of all ranks and let them know that they are valued for the contributions that they make to the success of our nation. >> thank you for that response. some of us recalled, the independent postal service was created in 1970, also a five-member postal recommendation to ensure transparency to try to ensure accountability of postal operations. -- focus on activities, finances and sustainability.
during your time as chairman, i would ask why is it important that the commission have a full slate of senate confirmed commissioners? >> it is critical we have a full slate of confirmed commissioners. prior to me joining the commission, we had an empty slot for some time. with really major rulemakings on the table including the review of the ratemaking system which was critical for the financial foundation of the entire postal system. one of the things we were able to do has quickly turned to that issue and accomplish that. i think it is another biggest rulemakings in the history of the commission. i would also add that a full
slate of the governors, of the postal service is also critical. i think it is absolutely a foundational issue that we have all of those slates for and are able -- full and are able to tackle a lot of the critical issues facing the postal system. sen. carper: my time is about to expire so thank you for your service on the commission and willingness to serve in this role. i started off by mentioning the district of columbia -- we're in a situation where the district of columbia has the best credit rating and here we are and we have to approve the budget, we have to approve their budget. they should be proving hours. -- ours. weeks and months into overtime in terms of producing our own budget and they still struggle with the issue.
i think that is one more reason the idea of having the district of columbia -- responsibilities they should have in my legislation. one more reason why it should be considered. thank you. we are grateful you are here. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator hassan, your recognize for your questions. sen. hassan: a special thank you to all of our nominees and your families for being willing to take on these important positions. i want to start with a question to you. our new bipartisan infrastructure law includes a provision i developed to create a new state and local program. fema will administer the program drawing on subject matter expertise from the infrastructure agency.
if confirmed as deputy administrator, what steps will you take to ensure that this grant funding will quickly and effectively get to entities including in my state of new hampshire? erik: cyber security and critical infrastructure are extremely important as we face challenges both domestically and internationally. if confirmed, i look forward to working specifically within fema, but also external to fema with our sister agency and with the department at dhs along with our local and state partners to fully implement the authorizations that are carried forward. i look forward to familiarizing myself particularly with the particular nuances and understanding the full congressional intent. that will be one of the first things i want to do in evaluating the program and how we should relate out, and seeing how i can execute on the
partnerships that are needed to address -- can't call it an emerging threat, but it is a persistent threat and is extremely important to the safety of our nation. sen. hassan: i appreciate that very much. we are seeing cyber attacks at a various -- at levels against various entities. we look forward to working with you to strengthen our resources here at our cyber defenses. the federal government's reliance on outdated and obsolete technology harms our ability to deliver services to the american people, threatens our cyber security drives wasteful spending. one way to curb wasteful spending on these old systems is through better cooperation and communications between agency chief information officers and chief financial officers to ensure there is a coordinated process for determining technology needs and acquisition processes.
how can the office of financial management work to improve communication between officers and chief financial officers to save taxpayer dollars? laurel: thank you, senator. i have seen in my time in government and the nonprofit sector that those legacy systems pose in norma's risk -- enormous risk to security. as you know, ofm plays a lead role in bringing together the cfos different agencies. i would a member leaning into -- the interagency roles plays, part of it is busting through those issues. i also think the process across
omb is important because it is also the cio. -- cio's the energy is what i would work with other cfo and cio colleagues to address. sen. hassan: i would his dad that one of the things the cfo community -- i would just add that one of the things the cfo community needs to learn is the length of time it takes and we need to make sure our financial systems are working in a way that can accommodate long-term planning and change. i look forward to further working with you on that. to mr. hooks, i want to go back to a different issue at fema because the agency has struggled with serious problems related to sexual harassment of its employees. a 2020 survey conducted by the rand corporation found that approximately 20% of fema employees reported experiencing sexual harassment at the agency. if confirmed as deputy, what
steps would you take to combat sexual harassment fema? that's at fema? -- at fema? erik: thank you for the question. i believe in order for any agency or department to be successful, you have to have great investment in the individuals, where they can thrive in a culture so that they feel they are part of and have the opportunities. that translates very cleanly over to. over issues of sexual harassment --. there is no place in any part of society for any person to be made to feel less than and moving forward when they are trying to serve their country or carrying out any other job. i have a history through my work both in the sbi and i secretary of ensuring -- as secretary of ensuring we've a culture of
values that women have those opportunities. as secretary of public safety, had one of the most incredible workforce dynamics in a field that generally dominated by male professionals, general counsel and chief deputy secretaries were females. that set the tone. i would lead by example and i've had brief discussions with administrator chris wells. he nir firmly on the same ground of moving forward to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive and work in a culture of excellence at fema and that sexual harassment will not be tolerated to any degree. -- he and i. sen. hassan: thank you for that commitment. in its attempts to become more financially stable, the u.s. postal service proposed delaying delivery times for first-class packages commonly used by pharmacies and banks to send lightweight products inexpensively. these delays would affect roughly one third of first-class
package volume and cause delays on central -- essential items that people in my home state rely on. in september, the postal regulatory commission issued an advisory opinion on this change and found the postal service's proposal to delay service were not substantially affect its overall financial condition, contrary to the stated goals of the proposal. what options or alternatives do you think the postal service could instead pursue to improve its financial condition without compromising service? michael: thank you for the question. i think the commission has issued two advisory opinions on attempts to change service standards. i think both have reached that conclusion that the savings on offer were meager compared to what the postal service hopes to achieve. i think the postal service has a number of steps they can take
including modernizing -- i think some of these steps to cut costs over time might include upfront investment. they have an extremely old vehicle fleet that is poor quality. they have been known to catch on fire. also, the efficiency is very low. i think that is something we are upfront -- where upfront in capital investment can lead to savings down the line. i think there are needs to prove the new ratemaking system for the postal service. i think it is an opportunity to stabilize postal finances or move the ball forward and improve postal finances. i think that is something they can capitalize on. i think long-term, i think there are opportunities for efficiency through information technology, reconsidering how to utilize their expensive network of
physical facilities to distribute mail more efficiently. i think one of the things we are launching is a data analytics group to look at issues within the postal network including whether it is aligned in the most efficient manner and looking up possible bottlenecks for the postal service may look to improve. sen. hassan: thank you very much you very much. i appreciate the extra time. i look forward to working with you on these issues. >> thank you. senator scott, you are recognized for your questions. sen. scott: i want to thank chairman peters and the ranking member for holding this hearing. thanks for the call we had. it is my understanding that certain states are asking to be reimbursed 100% retroactively for their covid-19 cost.
are you aware of this, do you think states ought to be regarded differently and do you think it is appropriate the federal government take over and pay 100% of costs and disasters? mr. hooks: thank you and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you yesterday. as a state administrative agent, coming from a state, it is certainly natural for every state to want to receive additional compensation or receive 100% comp share. it has to be a dallen -- a balance. fema programs are designed to have some cautionary element to them. i understand as a state representative that also advocated termite -- to my state. i understand there has to be a balance where each catastrophe and disaster is unique.
there has certainly been 100% reimbursement on some items that deal with covid and i do understand the need. but i do understand the need for fema to have consistent in its programs. but at the same time, meet disaster survivors where they are. if confirmed, i look forward to working with you and your stay and any other state that has no concerns about whether or not the 75% match, which is traditional, is being addressed appropriately and that those regulations are being interpreted. i look forward to knowing what headway administrator criswell has already made because i know that has been a concern. sen. scott: do you think states that don't have any skin in the game are going to watch the money? mr. hooks: i think it is also
added with the complexity that a lot of local communities may not have the financial wherewithal as other communities. i think that with honest conversation and never making promises that you certainly are not able to and not authorized by legislation to keep, that we can effectively move forward and address those issues. but we have to encourage states that they have to have some skin in the game. sen. scott: the disaster relief fund has been redistributed to find areas not related to disaster emergency merit -- mr. hooks: thank you for the question. i'm not specifically familiar with the reference that you make. however, i do believe that fema and any other organization has
an obligation to expend funds as they are authorized and are permitted by law. sen. scott: i think we talked about what i watched in the debris pickup, if a local agency or local municipality had a contract, it might be for $78.50 per cubic yard. when congress picked it up it was $72. do you think that is ever appropriate? mr. hooks: i think each of stay and the federal government has to encourage the use of advanced contracts particularly with debris pickup so that you can have some consistency and a level set what the cost management of that should be. i think that goes a long way into people raising and up taking prices as well. i think there should always be internal controls and
limitations on what should be charged for disaster recovery. sen. scott: we talked a little bit about the national flood insurance program. what is fascinating to me is that the federal government runs a program that is like my state. we are a 41 donor state. without during surveys -- doing surveys, they raised the flood insurance cost on many of our residents in the last 10 years and appeared to be doing it again. at the same time, fema does not appear to be a partner to try to help us get more private insurance so we are basically paying for flood insurance and other states. do you think that is appropriate? mr. hooks: i certainly heard your concern yesterday and that is certainly on my radar screen. flood insurance and of itself is a tremendous tool, a frontline to reduce the cost of individual recovery.
from disasters such as flooding. if confirmed, i look forward to working with you and your staff on any challenges that you see and whether or not the appropriate balance is being struck in the inflammation -- implementation of programs and whether this is an interpretation on anyone's part. sen. scott: d think it is important for fema to work with the private sector? mr. hooks: i believe that we all have a role to play both private sector as well as government and disaster mitigation and recovery efforts. without being specific to the scenario that you laid out, i believe great communication and great observance to what the congressional intent is for programs yet -- appear to move us forward. sen. scott: how do you deal from
local pressure to tell you that in my state, you have to give us a bigger match them another state. how are you going to deal with the political pressure? we are talking about billions of dollars. mr. hooks: thanks for the question. i am not uncaring or lock any empathy for the disaster that anyone faces however, i took my first oath of office over 30 something years ago. that oath found me -- bound me to follow the law as it has been given and i will continue to do that in any program that is rolled out with congressional approval. i leaned to my oath in those difficult times and i understand the pressures and advocacy from individuals concerning wanting to do what is best for their
state or their community. sen. scott: thank you. chairmain peters: senator padilla, you are not recognized for your questions. sen. padilla: appreciate very much the opportunity to meet and chat yesterday. as we discussed in my office, repetitive, catastrophic wildfires have an urgently become the new normal, not just across california, but throughout the western united states. while we are working to address this issue by allocating an unprecedented amount of funding for mitigation work to do the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by the president this last monday and the soon to be completed those back better bill, the speed by which these funds are typically distributed is simply too slow.
i asked to enter into the record a recent washington post article that highlighted the case of grass valley, california. ms. blatchford: without objection. sen. padilla: thank you. -- chairmain peters: without objection. sen. padilla: officials knew that mount olive road and the area around it was at extreme wildfire risk. in 2018, that area applied for eighth free -- fema grant to mitigate the fire risk. by 2021, they were still awaiting a decision on when the river fire -- a decision when the river fire ripped through the mountain road area of grass valley and destroyed 140 structures. according to the same post article and their research, of the $11 billion that fema has allocated for mitigation over the past decade, only $1.5
billion has actually been spent. the research found that counties are made to wait an average of seven years to complete their fema funded projects. during those weights, applicants for a fire mitigation specifically experience an average of three more major wildfires. -- during those waits. they know it is dangerous and they are impacted while they are forced to wait. most disappointing of all, the research found that fema is half as likely to fund grants for rural areas, poorer counties and tim in the center is made up of prime verily -- primarily minority residents face longer delays in getting funds approved.
important for the record, my question is this. obviously, these delays you would agree are unacceptable. what steps will you take if confirmed to shorten the time it takes for fema to reach a decision of grant applications and move the money out the door? mr. hooks: thank you. it was certainly a pleasure to meet with you. for my own experiences, i certainly know that disaster relief never comes fast enough. for the people and suffering. the people who have been impacted by wildfires in the western u.s., we have not had that experience to the same degree that you have certainly experienced in california. if confirmed, i look forward to learning about what challenges fema has had as far as moving individuals through this program, approving and/or
denying assistance. one of the things i think that i believe we always should do is that as programs grow, you have to build the capacity and capability to deliver those programs. i look forward to learning from administered are criswell and other senior leaders as to whether or not has the money has addressed to increase, have we built the capacity to deliver on those? fema has a goal of reducing the complexity of fema. i certainly, as a recipient of grant funding and navigating that process, agree with that forward thinking. i look forward to evaluating along with the administrator and bringing a set of fresh eyes as to how we have been successful. also, i am very mindful as you have stated here, that communities that often can
afford it the least are most often impacted. when we look at programs through the lens of equity, sometimes the length of recovery negatively impacts that equity. i look forward to working with you and your staff as well as the fema staff to address those issues from that perspective. sen. padilla: thank you. on the issue of equity, how do you envision working with traditionally disadvantaged communities to make sure they are treated more equitably, whether it is the grant applications, consideration of grant applications, approvals versus denials, etc.? mr. hooks: again, thank you for the question. i believe that the use of technical assistance both of the federal level and encouraging that at state level where you
have the expertise both at the federal and state level to go into those communities, states really have to understand the communities within their jurisdiction. at the federal government, even though we are supporting the disaster from a little bit further away, we have to understand the needs of those communities as well. again, effectively utilizing those broad partnerships, being really intentional about those community impacts and i'm certainly in tune with that. we have experienced that in north carolina where communities of the minority -- off the minority communities, recover less well because of the difficulty navigating processes to get the appropriate funding. sen. padilla: thank you. my colleague asked how you might respond to pressures from higher ups in the administration regardless of political pot -- party. i'm glad he pointed that out.
to media for larger grants for larger states versus others. i would ask the same and slightly differently. how would you respond to any pressures from higher up in the administration regardless of party if the agency seemed to be pressured to not award grants from a technical standpoint that seems to be justified? mr. hooks: thank you. i don't going to the expectation. i do lean toward my oath be a deep understanding of the program and what the congressional intent on how to deliver those programs and also looking at whether or not those programs are meeting the needs of the community. if there is a gap in whether or not those programs are not meeting the needs of the community, i would be the first to work with prime minister criswell as well as with this
committee and any other congressional body to make the appropriate adjustments. pressure is natural because disasters are certainly begin and end locally. i understand the need for disaster survivors to recover. there's a lot of emotion attached, but we have to have the appropriate authorities both to award and to appropriately consider those communities that have not previously received awards. sen. padilla: california thank you for that response and i thank you for that response. chairmain peters: senator awsat, you are recognized for your sins. sen. ossoff:. thank you. my first question is for you, mr. hooks. i've been consistently focused on necessary invest as and preparations to improve coastal resilience in coastal georgia to prepare communities in and around savannah, georgia for the
anticipated storm surge, coastal flooding and high wind event associated with more intense tropical storms. will you commit if confirmed to traveling to coastal georgia, sitting down with the mayor and other leaders in and around savannah, georgia as well as the rural communities across from and around cumberland island to discuss what can be done to improve coordination between local government and fema in preparation of the next storm system? mr. hooks: thank you for the question. storm surge and other issues that impact our coast are certainly very problematic both in georgia as they are in north carolina. i do commit to visiting wherever i can and talking with you and community leaders as i can through this process to get a greater understanding of what challenges they may have and to
ensure fema is new meeting the needs -- is meeting the needs. sen. ossoff: thank you so much i would also like your comments on what steps in your view fema can take to ensure that low income and minority communities like one community in georgia who typically bear the brunt of natural disasters and severe storm events are better prepared and receive equal and fair treatment from national disaster management authorities? mr. hooks: again, thank you for the question. i do believe that mitigation is the appropriate way forward. there has been an increased focus on mitigation and in order for mitigation to occur, there has to be a deep understanding of not just the topography and weather pattern of a particular area, but the needs of that community. i believe that all entities that
are involved in the disaster response and recovery have a role to play. the community has to come forward with what their challenges are. states have to understand with those challenges are in the partnership and it has to be relayed and executed with fema as a federal partner to get a deep understanding. in north carolina, we benefited from having the fema integration team which is on the ground with our emergency management that could not work and get a deeper understanding of those communities and provide a great way forward to some of those rural communities. but you have to be intentional and you have to be willing to collaborate at all levels of government and with local communities sen. ossoff:. when you come down to coastal georgia, i'm looking forward to welcoming you. i hope as well that you will consider meeting with community leaders like one doctor at haram
bay house -- harambe house and others who are committed to readying themselves. are you willing to meet with local advocates who are helping committees prepare for natural disasters? mr. hooks: yes, thank you for the question. i am certainly amenable to meet with individual leaders for communities. that has been my history to learn what the challenges are and to meet folks where there need exists. sen. ossoff: thank you. my final question to you, the level of frustration among georgians about the delays in postal delivery are extremely high. the frustration is extremely high. what steps, if confirmed, will
you take to accelerate the delivery of mail and packages by usps for the people of georgia? mr. kubayanda: thank you for the question. the commission has a really important role to play, but the traditional divide between the postal service is they handle direct operations and we handle oversight. that responsibility has certainly increased importance over the last couple of years with increasing delays in mail service. we are implementing a number of measures around the use of data to increase our focus on service problems. this includes an open data effort that will allow us to kind of harness all of the information that we have on the postal system, get it out of the hands of outside experts and analysts in machine-readable formats which will allow us to get better informed and put about what is going on in the
postal system. and improve our oversight. i think that will allow us to incrementally nuts the system forward and create improved results. we are also creating a small data analytics unit with similar intent to look at issues within the postal network. see if we can get to drill down on the root causes of what is causing the delays. this builds on prior work the commission has done to identify pinch points in the network that are slowing down mail. i think this is an effort we can scale up. there are some interesting developments in the raw data analytics, but i think we can take advantage of that to become more sophisticated. we can get better inputs from a public. another way we are hoping to provide increased transparency and accountability is simplification of data and visualization of data.
we are working with approaches such as dashboards. your average consumer will be able to go to our website, view what is going on in the postal network and easily -- in an easily understandable way. sen. ossoff: with my remaining time, i have heard from constituents that columbus georgia and macon georgia and in albany, georgia about male delay. we you please -- mail delay. plea please commit to working with local leaders to get to the bottom of those delays and accelerate mail delivery for folks in columbus, macon and albany? mr. hooks: absolutely. i will commit to that. chairmain peters: senator hawley, you are not recognized for your questions. sep. hawley: congratulations to the nominees. i want to start by raising an
issue i've been talking to for two years as it relates to fema. that is the in the fema process particularly after there has been a disaster in the state when it comes to rewarding individual assistance, working with local residents. in my state, in the state of missouri, we have historic flooding. historic flooding in my state. unfortunately, we had many residents who were out of -- who were forced out of their homes. out of their businesses, off their farms. their experience with fema was not a pleasant one. they could not figure out what the rules were, who to talk to, we had residents who were awarded assistance and had it retracted from them while they were still out of their homes you do qualify, no, give it back to us. this is totally unacceptable and at a minimum, fema needs to
commit to being more transparent and doing a better job on the ground in informing residents in disaster areas what assistance is available, what fema can do to help them, who the contacts are and where they can get information and on to make sure when assistance is needed, it gets to the people who need it and it has not been redrawn from the rug and pulled out in front of them. can you commit you will work with me on these transparency issues, on these informational issues for my constituents in the state of missouri, but for everybody who needs it anywhere fema serves? mr. hooks: yes, sir. thank you for the question and raising the concern. i certainly can commit if confirmed to work with you and any other senator on the challenges that you face. fema has a stated goal to reduce the complexity of fema. i believe as fema does that and i look forward, if confirmed to getting a greater understanding of what progress they have made
to do that, that we can ultimately reduce any situation where we find ourselves having to call back money. after somebody has been victimized by a storm and we have met them on their worst day, we don't want to contribute to the angst they already have. sep. hawley: what steps do you envision to making things more transparent, more upfront for those who are desperately in need? mr. hooks: again, thank you. one of the most overriding things that comes to my mind right now is -- and i'm sure this process is ongoing already -- is to review the programs. there should be a constant review and constant process of improvement to both see whether or not we are meeting the congressional intent and whether or not we are meeting the needs
of those individuals but it is designed to serve. for me, i would also lean in heavily to look at what the capacity and capability fema has to be on the ground to ensure that there is a great understanding as to how these programs are to be rolled out, that connection with the stay is extremely important. the state has an extremely important role as far as understanding those local communities. fema has to understand the impact that storms and floods have on those local members in that community so that we can understand that they may not have documentation readily available, and that we can help them navigate through technical assistance and perhaps fema integration teams to help them navigate sometimes those very complex issues. sep. hawley: thank you for that. you commit if you are confirmed to making sure you do everything
in your power to make sure fema's resources and aid is distributed strictly on the basis of need? that it goes to those who need it, those who are in danger, out of their homes or otherwise qualify for it, and it is not distributed based on any other factor? mr. hooks: i certainly can commit to ensure that any programs that i'm responsible for or responsible for having input to are addressed equitably and meet the congressional intent. sep. hawley: i raise this issue because the senate has considered substantial legislation recently, which my friends on the other side of the aisle have tried to impose categories treated under federal law where our federal law and constitution says you cannot target eight on the basis of raid. you cannot target on the basis
of gender. it is supposed to be done on the basis of need, on the basis of race neutral, race gender terms. that has been our constitutional law for many years and i'm worried about a situation in which we see fema having resources on performing some sort of social agenda where people in my state, wherever they are geographically whether urban or rural or the north of the state or middle of the state, if they are in need, i want to make sure fema is responsive to them and working with them and not distracted by other agendas that don't have something to be with helping people who are in the midst of a disaster. can you commit to me that you will help fema keep focused on its mission to help those, particularly in the midst of a disaster to get the eight they need and response they need wherever they live, whatever their personal circumstances. mr. hooks: thank you. i can commit to work tirelessly
to ensure that all fema programs reach the intended recipients as specified by law. sep. hawley: let me turn to you briefly in the time we have remaining. i want to raise an issue that is important to me about postal service and rural communities. my state has many rural communities in the state of missouri. i grew up in a rural community. it is important to me that we make sure the postal service continues to fulfill its mission to deliver the mail to those rural communities, to ensure the lifeline the postal service represents to those rural communities -- and by the way, in my state, that is north, south, east and west. i want to make sure that the pope the postal service continues to provide the services those communities rely on. let me ask you specifically
about a particular piece of legislation which is the postal service reform act. i think it is important to make sure we secure six-day service, and ensure that every american including those of rural communities have reliable and uninterrupted access to the mail. i wonder if you have had an opportunity to review this legislation and if you are familiar with it. mr. kubayanda: i am familiar and i think it would be a step forward. i am a former resident of both joplin and st. louis as a child so i am familiar with a lot of those issues growing up in missouri myself and i think this legislation will help advance the ball in terms of addressing those issues. sep. hawley: thank you very much for that. i appreciate out to all of you for being here. chairmain peters: senator rosen, you are not recognize. sen. rosen: thank you for all the nominees, your commitment to serve your country. i'm going to get right after it
and building upon some things senator padilla and i and i know others have spoken about, wildfires in fema assistant. this year, we have seen over -- assistance. this year, we have seen several wildfires burn through land. fema has several programs to assist communities before and after wildfires particularly in the fire assistance grant. i have been hearing from our state constituents that the current criteria is too restrictive for rural communities. the areas may be smaller in population but rely heavily on the land for their livelihood, mining, ranching, outdoor recreation. without assistance from fema, it is much harder for these communities to quickly recover.
can you confirm to reevaluate and possibly change the form letter to make it more acceptable for rural communities like mine when we are facing increasing rats? mr. hooks: thank you for your question. -- rates. i commit to learning from you and your staff about the challenges you particularly face in nevada and any other state as far as our programs and whether or not it is a capacity or capability or whether there is some additional reauthorization or work that needs to be done. i do commit to working with you on the concerns you have brought forward. sen. rosen: thank you. i would like to move on to something else that really impacts nevada which is our grant. i want to talk to you about our urban area security initiative
that really protects the city of las vegas and surrounding communities in the critical and for structure that supports our tourism economy. we silly, fema undertook what the agency called a comprehensive coordinated and collaborative review. including soliciting feedback from states to develop modifications. i am really pleased to see this because we know the threats continuously change and we need to be adapting along with it. i am pleased to see this. this is what the ministry there committed to me saying fema would be meaningfully involved in examining the methodology. we have to be sure that for nevada, the purpose is to enhance our preparedness and capability in high-risk and high density areas like the city of
las vegas and other cities like that are really protected. we are able to double the grant when i was in the house of representatives. the funding has remained steady since. it is not a lot of money compared to what some of the larger coastal cities receive. las vegas depends on that money to keep our residents and tourists safe. if you are confirmed, will you ensure that cities like las vegas can depend on level funding echo if we end up using this -- we don't want to use the 2020 numbers. las vegas was shut down because of a pandemic. we want to rely on the numbers from 2019 because the pandemic was an anomaly and we want to make sure we have level funding going forward.
our security and safety should not suffer because of covid-19 closures. can you commit to me that being sure all the numbers are reflective of 2019 and not what happened in 2020? mr. hooks: yes, thank you for the question. i do have great experience working with the program as the state administered of agent and homeland security advisor north carolina. we also had one in charlotte, north carolina as well. if confirmed, i look forward to seeing how fema is evaluating that process. i know that mr. criswell is very much on top of this and has arrived in her position as the lead including becoming there as her deputy if confirmed during this process. i look very much forward to working with you on the challenges that impact the
funding because they are critical to maintaining the safety of our stay and ultimately, our nation. sen. rosen: i totally agree with you. we do know the threats are always expanding. how often do you think the metrics should be reviewed and updated for the grant? as we move forward looking at these grants. mr. hooks: again, thank you for the question. i cannot specifically say how often they should be updated but i believe us threats emerge and different threats take place, but there should be a constant process of review. we have new threats that are
emerging both domestically and internationally. we also have additional infrastructure being built every day. we have to constantly evaluate that and fema cannot do that alone. fema has to do that in conjunction with our sister agency. the fbi and many other intelligence agencies as well as the military to get a firm grasp on what the threats are and to address from an all hazards approach. that process is always ongoing even if the formal evaluation does not regularly change because you don't want to change programs every other month or so. but it has to be a dynamically changing review. sen. rosen:. i see my time has just about expired. i will submit a question about extreme heat.
las vegas is the warmest city in the country. that creates a lot of disaster issues particularly for our rural, welland, and underserved communities. our like to have a conversation with you about the impact of extreme heat and how fema can help. thank you. chairmain peters: thank you senator rosen. we had a question for judge scott. the d.c. superior court handles a very high volume of cases and vacancies on the bench that have created a considerable backlog of cases. they members of the committee would like to hear from each of you that if confirmed, how will you manage your caseload efficiently while also ensuring each person that comes before you has a meaningful opportunity to be heard? we can start with judge scott. >> thank you for the question.
as others have mentioned, the d.c. superior court has quite a few vacancies. currently, there are approximately 14 vacancies on our court. i suspect that more will come because of the retirements of my colleagues. certainly, scheduling these hearings and nominees being confirmed will certainly assist with the backlog as the court will have more able bodies to deal with the pending cases. although the court has continued to operate during the pandemic, -- i'm happy to her's touch to report that both our internal division are being scheduled. in my perspective, this will
certainly address the current backlog. in terms of what i can do, it begins in the courtroom. what i can do and should i have the honor of being confirmed, is to hold attorneys who come before me accountable. that means is setting deadlines very early in my cases and holding the parties accountable to those deadlines. i know they are concerned about requests for continuing assistance and i can assure the committee and my colleagues of the court that i would set early deadlines and require parties to request continuances and be prepared to respond to any questions i may have regarding the continuance. it is very important that i myself am prepared so i can commit to do what i have been
doing as a magistrate judge and that is to take the bench having read the case, having read the posture and being aware of the issues before me is that i am not the reason for delaying. i'm confident with these items i mentioned, that the court can address the backlog and i can assist with decreasing the backlog. thank you. chairmain peters: thank you judge. >> i would like to start with saying that i agree with judge scott. first, i think the first obligation is for me to be prepared. i think that also ties in to second part of your question regarding letting us be fully heard. if i'm granted confirmation as an associate judge, it would be to actually fully share all litigants. part of hearing that is
reviewing and reading and analyzing the submission of all parties without favor or bias. i think the one thing i can do to help any backlog would be to hit the ground running. i think my training and experience as a career attorney in the justice department has brought the exposure in federal district courts where i've seen child judges and i've seen what works and what doesn't. i've seen what works really well. i think i could bring those experiences and practice experiences if i were fortunate to be confirmed. finally, i do think that because of a national emergency brought on by the covid virus, the justice department had to adapt and actually continue its services. i think there were procedures implemented through the emergency that increased efficiency in the car and i would like to continue those if i am confirmed as a judge to help eat the backlog by moving
cases more quickly and more hearings expeditiously. chairmain peters: thank you. i would like to take an opportunity to thank each of our nominees once again for being here before the committee. congratulate each of you on your nominations and your willingness to take on these very tough jobs. also want to thank you for your thoughtful answers to questions from members of this committee. all five nominees have made financial disclosures and provided the required responses to biographical and prehearing questions submitted by this committee. without objection, this information will be made part of the hearing record with the exception of the financial data which is on file and available for public inspection in the committee offices. the hearing record will remain open until 12:00 p.m. tomorrow, november 19 for the submission of statements and questions for the record. this hearing is now adjourned.
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] >> watch live coverage today at 12:30 eastern on c-span, online at c-span.org or full coverage on c-span now, our new video app. >> we have had one of our senior health analysts were scrapped -- describe hospitals and a number of other sectors as target rich and recess poor -- resource poor.
because they have a soft underbelly and would be willing to pay to get that running quickly. on the other hand, they don't necessarily have the resources to devote to enhancing the cybersecurity matching the degree of risk, that is why we could try to make sure that is hospitals became increasingly fragile, being overwhelmed with covid patients, that we were able to give support to those entities, get them loaded into the services we offer, but that is only scratching the surface. there is more we need to do hospitals get the protection they need. you can have consequences on the communities and patients. this is an area where there's a lot more work needed. i am not here to pretend that what we have done is enough. this will be a constant focus for our agency in the years ahead to match the level of risk
that's out there. >> other officials testified on computer network attacks before a house committee. you can watch the hearing tonight on c-span, on c-span.org, or watch full coverage on c-span now, our new video app. ♪ c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more, including them -- including nimco. -- midco. ♪ midco supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. jim tankersley