Skip to main content

tv   Confirmation Hearing for Pres. Bidens Nominees  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 6:00pm-8:00pm EST

6:00 pm
cues, we do a better job. alcohol, in the same way we meet and shake hands, to show we are not holding a weapon, cultures use intoxicants at meetings or anything where hostile people need to figure out a way to operate as a cognitive determinant. >> you can listen to q1 date and all of ourcoming up next, a sene confirmation hearing, including the deputy administrator of fema in the comptroller of the office of federal management. several men -- several nominees from the district of columbia also testify. this is about two hours.
6:01 pm
>> the committee will come to order. today we are considering five nominations. ebony scott and donald who are both joining us remotely to be associate judges on the superior court for the district of columbia. welcome to each of you and to your friends and family members
6:02 pm
joining us here today. congratulations on your nominations and thank you for all of your previous service and for your willingness to take on these very important roles. these are all very different positions, but each is important to the federal government into our nations 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 too long. fema has been without a senate deputy administrator for out two years. additionally the d.c. superior court is struggling with high vacancy levels. there are four associate judge vacancies on the court we hope to see several other seats filled shortly. thank you for your willingness
6:03 pm
to serve and for being with us today. i look forward to hearing from each of our nominees. >> i want to commend the nominees for stepping up to serve, those in the federal government and d.c. government. mr. hook, you come to us with more than -- was many years of public service. i think your first hand experience working with fema, which is the leading emergency management, but also doing that at the state level, it is critical background for someone to half to leave the agency. there is a $1 billion funding for the brick program which is
6:04 pm
the building resilient infrastructure committee program . i think this is a good program and it will make your job a lot different and ultimately will help the taxpayer and citizens that live in areas that are prone to natural disasters because it lets you mitigate disasters before they happen. i hope you will use your state experience to make sure it is used in a strategic way the postal regulatory commission, a small but mighty group, i think 75 people, that place a very important role in accountability , including examining the financial data monitoring --
6:05 pm
the postal service is a difficult situation. the institution is continue to decline, so it is a time of change. i know this is your second denomination -- nomination to a postal regulatory commission. i look forward to hearing your thoughts on the nation's postal system as well as its challenges and what you are looking forward to for the future. miss blatchford, i enjoyed our conversation over the telephone. i think this is an incredibly important position. i think it is one of the most important positions in the federal government as a former director, i was reliant on the
6:06 pm
person in this position and i understand it is important to our federal government proper functioning. it is so important that they have placed specific regulations. the comptroller is required to possess a demonstrated ability in accounting, financial management, and financial systems and extensive financial management and 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. and to judge scott and mr tonnage thank you for being here is the committee considers your
6:07 pm
nominations as associate judges on the d. c. superior court. both of you have spent essentially your entire career in public service as i see and i appreciate your willingness to serve as judges. um on the d. c. court. congress has a unique relationship with the dc justice system is outlined in the house in the home rule act as you know the important issues facing d. c. including rising crime that all of us are aware of. there have been significantly more homicides, assaults and armed robberies this year than there were at the same time last year. as an example, it's one reason we need impartial and qualified judges on the d. c. superior to ensure timely justice for all parties. i look forward to discussing this and other issues with judge god and mr tonnage.
6:08 pm
thank you. mr chairman. >> do you swear about the testimony you gave before the committee will be the truth nothing but the truth so help you god. you may be seated. our first nominee is eric hooks. nominated to be deputy administrator of fema. mr hooks has more than 30 years of public safety experience, including serving as secretary of public safety and homeland security adviser for the state of north carolina. as secretary. mr hooks led north carolina's largest department which includes the state's emergency management agency, office of recovery and resilience, the north carolina national guard and several law enforcement agencies prior to his tenure as secretary. mr hook
6:09 pm
served for 28 years in north carolina state bureau of investigation where he held several leadership roles including assistant director of the professional standards division and head of the threat assessment and state asset investigations unit. welcome mr hooks. you may proceed with your opening remarks. >> it is my privilege to appear towards you today. i am honored to be nominated for this important emergency management leadership role. i am humbled by the opportunity to appear before this committee and thank you for considering my my nomination. if confirmed, i look forward to working with secretary mayorkas administrator chris well and the entire team at fema and the department of homeland security on building a more resilient and prepared nation. i would like to thank my wife of almost 30 years muriel and our son brandon, who have sacrificed along with me in my
6:10 pm
to public service and career in public safety. i would also like to acknowledge the committee men and women of fema, our military federal state, local emergency , management and public safety partners who worked tirelessly to protect and lead recovery efforts from multiple hazards across our great nation. if confirmed, it would be my sincere 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 as a as a senior leader of the state bureau of investigation for over 27 years. then, in january 2017, the governor of north carolina appointed me to serve as the secretary of public safety and homeland security advisor for north carolina. over the last four years in that role, i led north carolina's disaster mitigation response and recovery efforts as the state navigated an increasing number
6:11 pm
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 carolina state highway patrol, the north carolina alcohol law enforcement division, the north carolina state capitol police, the division of adult correction in juvenile justice, the governor's crime commission and support divisions within the department i was ultimately responsible for of public safety. leadership, coordination of homeland security and emergency management functions to provide comprehensive and coordinated preparedness mitigation
6:12 pm
prevention, protection, response and recovery for emergencies, disasters and acts or threats of terrorism. as the leader of north carolina state administrative agency for homeland security grant funds, administered federal funds to state local tribal entities across north carolina. i also chaired the north carolina state emergency response commission and through a talented team of professionals, coordinated law enforcement, counter terrorism 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 for a terrorist threat. i -- for a terrorist threat. i recently served on the executive committee of the national governors, homeland security advisors council and i'm 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
6:13 pm
to the nation during my tenure -- 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 presidential e declared disasters. my public service experience prepares me for the position of fema deputy administrator i believe for us to create and maintain 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 from catastrophic events is at its highest level possible. if confirmed, it would be my honor to serve our nation by helping all communities reduce the risk associated with future disasters while assisting disaster survivors across the country. i am committed to work
6:14 pm
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. thank you mr hooks for your >> thank you mr hooks for your opening comments. our next nominee is michael aranda, who is nominated to serve a second term as a commissioner on the postal regulatory commission. mr cooper honda has 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.
6:15 pm
prior to joining the commission, mr cuba uganda has served as a board member and privacy officer for the digital health startup. before that, he held multiple roles with the us postal service office of inspector general, including overseeing research on technical issues and postal economics and serving as director of government relations. > good morning members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to testify regarding my nomination. it is an honor to serve as a commissioner since january of 2019 and chairman since january 2021, a. since when the postal system has gone under significant changes. postal workers kept -- allow citizens to receive supplies.
6:16 pm
customers reported local performances and some areas and the quantitative evidence confirmed this. during this difficult. , the commission carried out its mission of providing transparency and accountability. they produced two determinations overseeing financial compliance. we have also issued major rulemakings on a bipartisan basis, including a review of the rate making system, and our roles on cost allocation. in addition, we have increased our focus on customer experience, by probing the customer experience. over the years, the commission has mastered [inaudible] legislation. while these tools are proven, they may not be entirely out of it for our present situation and congress today. [inaudible]
6:17 pm
in the fiscal year of 2021. it will be addressed in the 2021 annual compliance determination, but that will not be out until march of 2022. as 15 to 16 months after the problems originally occurred. the commission will provide transparency there -- i am doing everything in my power and the commission's authority to make sure we provided them. our traditional tools for providing accountability and transparency must be updated with a new approach. this modernization is guided by bipartisan legislation approved by this committee and the current needs of the moment. it is also modeled on the success of other parts of the government, such as the post office of the inspector general. the commission is currently implementing the open government data act.
6:18 pm
in pursuant to this law, the commission will hire its first data officer to make data available to the public in readable formats and manage data as a strategic asset to the nation. the commission is also reorganizing its staff to launch a small data analyst group to conduct special -- specialized studies of costs. they will build on our prior work, identifying pitch points in the network. pending approvals, the commission is also working on new data visualization approaches, such as a beta version on our website. dashboards can provide more understandable and timely insights into service performance and eventually into financial performance. the proposed dashboard is based off of work done in-house. these are modest steps on a scale, but they are necessary and modernizing postal regulation.
6:19 pm
to support this approach, the commission has expanded its technological capabilities. we have hired i.t. experts in a moving cloud computing [inaudible] the commission is also applied so the modernization fun. strategic use of data can update the commissions traditional use of data and accountability. it allows the commission to perform better from inputs and provides discipline and focus for the exercise of our core responsibilities. through that data centric, customer centric approach, i hope the commission can make this court of government more responsive and adapt to provide better services to american citizens. thank you for considering my nomination, and i look forced to answering your questions.
6:20 pm
>> thank you for your opening remarks. our next nominee is laura blanchford. she has experience in serving as chief of staff in urban development, and executive developer of the hurricane sandy tax force. she is currently a managing director at blue meridian partners, a nonprofit and philanthropic organization, then invest in economic and social mobility nationwide. she served as president of enterprise community partners, and national nonprofit, focused on affordable housing and community development. welcome, you may proceed.
6:21 pm
laura: thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i am deeply humbled to have been nominated for this important role in would be honest to have the chance to serve the american people if confirmed. i want to thank my husband of 21 years and our two children for their love and support, and i know they are watching alongside many friends and colleagues. i sit before you today, because i am a public servant. this calling comes directly from my parents. my father was an accomplished teacher and school in ministry or whose leadership and vision impacted the lives of many. my mother is an educator and community leader who has shared that challenges and blessings of her own experience as a deaf woman to help others in
6:22 pm
countless ways. their lives of purpose and service have had an incredible impact on those around them. i am deeply grateful for their example. i started my own public service career as a paralegal investigating organized crime. since then, my past is taken me from working on a wide range of projects working in mayor's office to working in communally development agencies in the community and then starving as chief of staff, and then an executor and of that is sandy -- along the way, i had the opportunity of working on a weight -- a wide range of issues including the many management challenges in recovering from national disasters, including hurricane katrina and more recent storms. across these different roles,
6:23 pm
one clear lesson has shown through. no matter how brilliant the idea, or how much money we can invest, the success of ever -- of every project is dependent on how the work is done. i have seen time and time again at that strong implementation with transparency, with consistency, and strong partnerships, is essential to access -- to success, especially in the public sector. if confirmed as comptroller, i would bring my track record of delivering results to the challenges we are facing right now as a country. as i've done before, i am eager to serve and bring my energies and capabilities to ensure that the federal government works more effectively and efficiently for the american people. specifically, that our financial resources and investments are being deployed, tracked, [inaudible] as well as possible. i would be thrilled to serve
6:24 pm
along the political staff, some of whom i've had the pleasure of knowing and working with. it would be an honor to join us team, lead over the, and work with leaders and with congress to ensure we accomplish our shared goals. thank you for the chance to appear before you today. >> next we will have a video to introduce our final nominees, ebony scott and dw tunnage. >> i appreciate the opportunity to introduce ebony scott and dw tunnage to be judges on the
6:25 pm
superior courts of the district of columbia. both bring the experience and credentials to be judges. scott currently serves as a magistrate judge on the d.c. superior court, having been appointed in january 2020. she spoke as the deputy director of the d.c. [inaudible] legal counsel. art about work, short -- prior to that work, she worked as general counsel, where she oversaw day-to-day operations. she's also served as a district attorney general in the office of the d.c. attorney general.
6:26 pm
prior to her public service work, she worked in private practice for almost five years as a civil litigator and served on the d.c. court of appeals. she has served as an adjunct professor of law and is a graduate of the american university college of law. i am also pleased to introduce dw tunnage. he is a summarized attorney in the united states department of justice. in this position, he has spent two decades fighting for important civil rights law's such as the fair housing act and the civil rights act. he has received special awards
6:27 pm
and is a three-time recipient of special accommodations for outstanding performance. during this time, with the department of justice, he was an assistant state public defender -- part of me not during this time, but during his time. he litigated criminal appeal [inaudible] is a graduate of morehouse university. he is a master in public policy from harvard kennedy school of government. i appreciate the committee [inaudible]
6:28 pm
>> welcome judge scott and mr. tunnage ms. scott you may proceed with your opening remarks. are you on mute right now? the judge is still on mute. [no audio] mr. tunnage we will go to you. ms. scott we understand the
6:29 pm
recording studios having the problem, not you. >> good morning. chairman peters, and the service committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i am deeply grateful to you and your dedicated committee stoppers for considering my nomination. i would also like to extend my gratitude to the mng sullivan for recommending me. emmet g sullivan for recommending me. extend my gratitude and appreciation to congresswoman eleanor for her kind introduction. i appreciate her support. the opportunity to appear fruit
6:30 pm
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. 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
6:31 pm
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
6:32 pm
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
6:33 pm
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
6:34 pm
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.
6:35 pm
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
6:36 pm
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
6:37 pm
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
6:38 pm
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.
6:39 pm
>> 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
6:40 pm
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.
6:41 pm
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?
6:42 pm
>> 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
6:43 pm
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
6:44 pm
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 --
6:45 pm
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
6:46 pm
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
6:47 pm
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
6:48 pm
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
6:49 pm
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.
6:50 pm
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
6:51 pm
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
6:52 pm
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
6:53 pm
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
6:54 pm
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
6:55 pm
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.
6:56 pm
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.
6:57 pm
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
6:58 pm
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.
6:59 pm
>> 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.
7:00 pm
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
7:01 pm
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.
7:02 pm
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
7:03 pm
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.
7:04 pm
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
7:05 pm
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
7:06 pm
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,
7:07 pm
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
7:08 pm
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
7:09 pm
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.
7:10 pm
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
7:11 pm
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
7:12 pm
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
7:13 pm
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
7:14 pm
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.
7:15 pm
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 --
7:16 pm
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
7:17 pm
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
7:18 pm
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
7:19 pm
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
7:20 pm
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
7:21 pm
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
7:22 pm
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
7:23 pm
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
7:24 pm
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
7:25 pm
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
7:26 pm
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.
7:27 pm
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
7:28 pm
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.
7:29 pm
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
7:30 pm
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
7:31 pm
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
7:32 pm
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
7:33 pm
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
7:34 pm
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.
7:35 pm
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.
7:36 pm
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
7:37 pm
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.
7:38 pm
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
7:39 pm
-- 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
7:40 pm
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
7:41 pm
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
7:42 pm
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.
7:43 pm
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.
7:44 pm
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
7:45 pm
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.
7:46 pm
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
7:47 pm
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
7:48 pm
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
7:49 pm
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.
7:50 pm
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
7:51 pm
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
7:52 pm
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,
7:53 pm
-- 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
7:54 pm
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
7:55 pm
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
7:56 pm
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
7:57 pm
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. announcer: when congress returns next week, there are several items on the agenda. the house and senate must extend federal funding to avoid a government shutdown and deal with the debt limit to prevented default. they plan to complete work on the social spending plan next month as well as defense programs and policy legislation. watch the house live on c-span and the senate on c-span2, online at, or follow
7:58 pm
congress with c-span now, our new video app. ♪ announcer: the sale you have been waiting for starts this friday at c-span shop dor org, c-span's -- dot org, c-span's online store. there's something for every c-span fan for the holidays, and every purchased helps support our nonprofit operations. shop deals friday at c-span's shop. ♪ announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. funded by these television companies and more, including sparklite. >> that is why sparklight is
7:59 pm
working around-the-clock to keep you connected. announcer: sparklight supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers. giving a front row seat to democracy. ♪ announcer: tonight on c-span, president biden talks about inflation and efforts to reduce energy costs. then more on the topic with the energy secretary at today's white house briefing. after that, hearing on how covid-19 relief funds are being used in the education system. later, a discussion on the impact technology has on health care. president biden announced his plan to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve to lower gas prices ahead of the busy holiday travel season and improve the economy. from the white house, it is 10 minutes. pres. biden: good afternoon. this week, million


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on