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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Former FEMA chief pushes Fugate

Add James Lee Witt, the former head of FEMA, to the chorus of those urging Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to drop his hold on the confirmation of Craig Fugate to head the agency. Fugate is the former Florida emergency management director. Vitter is blocking his Senate confirmation over a longstanding dispute with FEMA over emergency housing and reconstruction.

"In addition to the imminent beginning of hurricane season, spring flooding int he Midwest, tornadeoes in the South and the California wildfire reminds us all that it is critical that the agency have an able administrator in place and in charge," Witt wrote Vitter today.

Witt said Vitter's issues with FEMA are valid, but they could best be addressed by installing a director. Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez also have urged Vitter to drop his hold, and Nelson gave Fugate a spirited defense on the Senate floor today.

Provided the overwhelming majority of senators support Fugate's nomination, the Senate could use procedural rules to get around Vitter's opposition next week.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:59pm]


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