During Monday night's House Rules Committee hearing for H.R. 152, Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, Congressman Tim Huelskamp offered an amendment to require the details of all grants distributed under FEMA's disaster relief to be disclosed. The amendment was made in order. As he discussed in his testimony, Huelskamp pointed out that a recent FEMA Inspector General report found $621 million in improper payments following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other disasters up to December 31, 2010.
"Disasters happen, and many times there is a role for Washington to respond," Huelskamp said. "But, that does not mean we put on the blindfolds and pray that the money gets where it needs to go -- or that all of the money is used properly and in accordance with the hopes of Congress. As a representative of a disaster-prone district, I know that there is a role for an agency like FEMA. However, my constituents are also taxpayers, and they demand transparency and accountability for the money they send to Washington."
The House will consider the amendment and the underlying legislation on Tuesday.
Huelskamp's transparency efforts in Congress build upon his 14 years of similar efforts in the Kansas State Senate. He authored a measure known as the Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Act that led to the creation of KanView, a statewide website that allows the public to view all expenditures by state agencies as well as the salaries of public officials. Additionally, Huelskamp's efforts on transparency in Kansas led the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government to honor him with the "Friend of Open Government" Award.