Republican to lift hold on FEMA nominee

May 12, 2009 2:42:31 PM PDT
A Louisiana Republican has agreed to stop blocking the White House's pick to lead FEMA amid bipartisan criticism that he was leaving the agency vulnerable just a few weeks away from hurricane season. Sen. David Vitter had put a hold on confirming Craig Fugate at the Federal Emergency Management Agency until FEMA officials provided answers on several lingering questions involving Hurricane Katrina rebuilding.

With hurricane season starting June 1, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle joined disaster-response organizations in urging Vitter to relent.

Fugate, a former Florida emergency management chief, otherwise has broad bipartisan support. He is expected to win quick confirmation.

Vitter said in a letter sent Tuesday to acting FEMA administrator Nancy Word that he would release his hold.

He said Fugate has offered assurances that the flood-zone rebuilding issues would be resolved, "allowing for the crucial rebuilding of key infrastructure."

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