Bush Nominates Paulison to be FEMA Chief

On Thursday, President Bush said he wanted R. David Paulison’s role as acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be made permanent, the Associated Press reports via CNN.

Paulison, a 30-year career firefighter, took the reins of the disaster response agency following former chief Michael Brown’s resignation after Hurricane Katrina, according to the AP. Brown tendered his resignation as a result of the barrage of criticism from media and lawmakers alike, due to FEMA’s lackluster response efforts in relation to the devastating storm that rocked the Gulf Coast in August.

The U.S. Senate still needs to approve Paulison’s nomination as the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for federal emergency management, the AP reports.

According to the AP, Paulison told a news conference on Thursday, “I’d be darned if I was going to turn my back on it.”

Paulison also told the audience that he’d ready the agency for the June 1 start of hurricane season, the AP reports.

FEMA is currently understaffed by roughly 20 percent, in terms of full-time workers, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is working with Paulison to reach a 95 percent full-time staff level by the first of June, according to the AP.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) lauded Bush’s choice, the AP reports.

“In terms of experience, no one is more qualified to lead FEMA than David Paulison,” King said, according to the AP.

Paulison first took up his career in firefighting in 1971 at Florida’s North Miami Beach Fire Department, the AP reports.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, and he’s a certified paramedic who at one time headed up the U.S. Fire Administration, according to the AP.

Along with Paulson’s nomination, Chertoff also announced that Vice Admiral Harvey E. Johnson Jr. was appointed as FEMA’s deputy director and chief operation officer; David Maurstad’s role as FEMA’s acting Mitigation Division director was made permanent; and Deidre Lee was selected to be deputy director of operations, the AP reports.

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