Republicans launch probe into Biden administration’s response to Maui fires

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A group of Republican lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee announced Friday that they will launch an investigation into the Biden administration’s response to the deadly wildfires in Hawaii.

The wildfires killed over a hundred people on the island of Maui early last month and nearly destroyed the town of Lahaina. The fire, which killed more than 110 people, caused over $5.5 billion in damage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated.

“The deadly wildfire in Maui shocked the nation and left many, especially those directly impacted by the tragedy, with serious questions that remain unanswered today,” Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said in a joint statement. “President Biden built his entire reputation on empathy and compassion but failed to deliver an appropriate response when it mattered most.”

The House Oversight Committee would be the second congressional panel to look into the federal response. The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the fires later this month.

President Biden said he welcomes any investigation from Republicans, arguing that his administration responded effectively. The White House has already pledged nearly $100 million to rebuild electrical infrastructure on the island.

Electrical infrastructure is believed to be the cause of the fire. Multiple homeowners and the Maui government have sued the local utility company — Hawaiian Electric — claiming that its lack of action preparing for the high-wind storm caused the massive blaze.

Comer and Sessions said their investigation will be focused on ensuring FEMA responded appropriately and “is utilizing every tool at their disposal efficiently.”

It is estimated that cleanup and recovery from the fire could take up to a year and cost over $1 billion. That process would be a collaboration between FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said.

Schatz added that the federal government has agreed to bear all recovery costs for the first three months of recovery.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

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