I may have posted on this issue before. Basically it is the intelligence, competence, drive, and motivation of the Current Congress. Several outstanding new Senators have arrived with the 112th Congress. Two are Republicans! Rubio of Florida--Cuban/American. And Portman. Portman formally headed OMB and is top notch just wrong party. And the one DEM who is awesome and will be a power is Blumenthal of Conneticut. All these will even as freshmen show their power.
Unfortunately, in many ways the brains are now with the Republicans and no indication yet whether the intellectual firepower of Obama's appointees to SCOTUS will hold up to those others.
Why is PORTMAN so important to FEMA. Because he knows FEMA cold and its problems with policy, waste, fraud, abuse and generally being a creature of the STATES and their LOCAL governments. That is the basica reason OMB did not defend FEMA from the spin-down under ALLBAUGH and RIDGE and then Chertoff. He knows budget codes cold. 050 is National Defense. 450 is state and local assistance. Portman knows the bulk of FEMA is in the latter category. He is so knowledgeable that I fully expect him to Chair the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee after the 2012 elections when the SENATE is held by the Republicans.
My understanding is that he even reviewed (as did Richard Darman when heading OMB for BUSH 41) individual Damage Survey Reports that would lead to large disaster outlays. Nothing like building 6 new hospitals in California by FEMA under President Clinton will be occurring this round. What will be curious as to how he launches an attack on disaster outlays. Legislative or through the Senate Finance Committee that he also sits on. Or both.
This will be one to watch and as far as I am concerned what Jacob Lew the OMB Director does to FEMA is now almost irrelevant and the real test is what does Rob Portman want.
By the way the proposed budget for FY 2012 is due from the Executive Branch to the HILL on February 14th. My guess is DOA.