WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the nominations of Erik Hooks to be Deputy Administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Honorable Michael Kubayanda to be a Commissioner at the Postal Regulatory Commission, Laurel Blatchford to be Controller for the Office of Federal Financial Management in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Ebony Scott and Donald Tunnage to be Associate Judges on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
A transcript of his opening remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to commend the nominees for stepping up to serve the public, both in the federal government and the DC government. Mr. Hooks, you come to us with more than 30 years of public service, I’ve seen — law enforcement, public safety in North Carolina. I think your first-hand experience working with FEMA, which is the leading emergency management agency at the federal level, but also doing that at the state level is critical background for someone tapped to help lead the agency. I’m sure you saw that in the latest legislation, the infrastructure legislation, there’s one billion dollars in funding for the BRIC program, which is the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. I think this is a good program and I think it’ll make your job a lot different and ultimately will help the taxpayer and certainly citizens who live in areas that are prone to natural disasters, because it lets you mitigate disasters before they strike. And if confirmed it is my hope that you will use your state experience to ensure that BRIC is used in a strategic way for exactly those purposes, to target those regions with the highest vulnerabilities to disasters.
“Commissioner Kubayanda, the Postal Regulatory Commission is a small but mighty group, I think 75 people, but plays a very important role in promoting transparency and accountability in our postal system. We rely on it, including examining the Postal Service’s financial data, monitoring its service performance, and ensuring they follow the law in setting prices. Over the past two years, as you know, the importance of the Postal Service to our nation’s supply chain has stood out. And the Postal Service faces obviously a difficult situation as first-class mail, which has traditionally sustained the institution has continued to decline. It’s a time of change. I know this is your second nomination to the Postal Regulatory Commission. You’ve already served as a Commissioner for nearly three years and Chairman since January. 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.
“Ms. Blatchford, I enjoyed our conversation over the telephone. As you know, I think this is an incredibly important position, the Controller in the Office of Federal Management at OMB. I think it’s one of the most important positions in the federal government as the federal government addresses the significant economic and other issues that face our country. As a former OMB Director, I was very reliant on the person in this position and understand it’s important to our federal government’s proper functioning. It’s so important that Congress actually placed specific qualifications on the position and it’s established in the U.S. Code under 31 USC, Section 504. The Controller is ‘required to possess a demonstrated ability and practical experience in accounting, financial management, and financial systems and extensive practical experience in financial management in large governmental or business entities.’ I look forward to discussing how you meet these requirements for the position of Controller and if you are confirmed, I look forward to working with you on improving transparency in the federal government and better access for all taxpayers to the accountability that comes from more information.
“And to Judge Scott and Mr. Tunnage, thank you for being here as the Committee considers your nominations as associate judges on the DC Superior Court. Both of you spent essentially your entire career in public services, I see, and I appreciate your willingness to serve as judges on the DC Court. Congress has a unique relationship with the DC justice system as outlined in the Home Rule Act. As you know, there are important issues facing DC, 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 DC Superior Court to ensure timely justice for all parties. I look forward to discussing this and other issues with Judge Scott and Mr. Tunnage.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”