Washington, DC -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt testified on Capitol Hill today regarding the Agency's FY 2001 budget request. In his eight appearance before the Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Director Witt stressed FEMA's commitment to responsibility, and how FEMA's initiative Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities has placed mitigation and prevention at the center of emergency management in the United States.
"FEMA has saved lives, enhanced communities, and prevented needless pain. We came this far together by being responsible - responsible to our customers, partners, and taxpayers," said Director Witt, FEMA's longest serving director. Stressing the importance of the work to be done in FY 2001, Witt talked about four key areas of responsibility the Agency must address:
- Ensure that the impacts of future disasters are minimized as much as possible;
- Ensure that wherever possible, people are moved out of harm's way;
- Protect people who respond to disasters and events; and
- Ensure that people have the resources necessary to address emergency management needs and issues.
Along with responsibility, the Director also stressed the importance of FEMA's prevention and mitigation program, noting the Agency has learned through mitigation success stories that steps can be taken to prevent the significant devastating impacts for future disasters. He talked of the need to continue programs that encourage individuals, communities, and States to take responsibility for mitigation.
At the hearing, Chairman of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Stevens, made an appearance to praise the work of Director Witt, citing his bi-partisan approach and his significant accomplishments at FEMA. Senator Stevens remarked about his intent to introduce legislation that would extend the term of Director Witt for an additional eight years.