Under Questioning by Underwood, FEMA Administrator Gaynor Fails to Clearly Address Agency's Coronavirus Response, Despite Alarming Rise in Cases Nationally

July 22, 2020
Press Release
Underwood: With FEMA shedding responsibilities and moving back to "normal operations," who in the federal government is taking over leadership of this ongoing crisis?

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, slammed Peter Gaynor, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on the Administration's failure to effectively respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During the hearing, Underwood questioned Administrator Gaynor on FEMA's capacity to effectively manage an emergency of this scale as equipment shortages continue. Additionally, Underwood confronted Administrator Gaynor on his written testimony that FEMA was returning to "normal operations" despite the alarming rise in cases nationally—testimony that Gaynor contradicted and seemed unaware of when questioned.

"I shouldn't still be hearing about nurses reusing single-use masks, and yet they've gone on strike this month because they do not have the basic supplies they need to do their jobs safely," said Underwood. "No part of our federal government can be in 'normal operations' at this time. We need an aggressive, coordinated federal response to contain this pandemic and reopen safely, and it's been lacking from this Administration."

Full video of Underwood's remarks can be found here.

In Congress, Underwood has continued to fight to deliver PPE for health care providers and frontline workers. Last week, in a Homeland Security Committee hearing, Underwood pressed Craig Fugate, former Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other witnesses on the Administration's failure to meet critical needs for PPE across the country. In March, Underwood led members of the Illinois delegation in a letter to President Trump, urging the Administration to immediately implement a federally coordinated effort to meet Illinois's need for PPE. Members urged the Administration to immediately order the coordinated, full-scale deployment of every public and private resource our nation has to ensure that doctors, nurses, EMS workers, and other heroes have the protective equipment they need. Additionally, Underwood has strongly supported three relief packages passed by the House in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which includes provisions in the HEROES Act to address the need for PPE in Illinois.