US says transfer from FEMA funds won't harm hurricane relief

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Merkley said the 39-page plan indicates the Department of Homeland Security requested $9.8 million from FEMA accounts.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, is feuding with the Trump administration over what he says was its inappropriate shift of $10 million from FEMA to immigration enforcement - funds he said should be used for disaster relief.

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts", Houlton said on Twitter.

FEMA and ICE both belong to the Department of Homeland Security.

He added, "The money in question - transferred to ICE from FEMA's routine operating expenses - could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations". They do support his assertion that it has "Response and Recovery right on it". FEMA's annual budget is about $15 billion.

Congress has long restricted how much money goes to ICE as a way of forcing it to prioritize its immigration enforcement efforts.

Merkley, appearing Tuesday night on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC, said the Trump administration was taking money from FEMA's "response and recovery" and "working hard to find funds for additional detention camps". It details the effects the transfer would have on FEMA's operations and from where in the budget the money would come.

Long, who took over a year ago shortly before Hurricane Harvey struck, said he didn't want the investigation to detract from preparations for a major storm was heading for the U.S.

Federal Emergency Management Agency staff members assist survivors of Hurricane Maria in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2017. Additionally, Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August and Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September, leaving FEMA stretched thin.

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'I believe this movement of funds was within the flexibility the administration has, ' Merkley noted.

The document, released by the office of Sen.

The transfer was a part of more than $200 million the Department of Homeland Security moved from the budgets of other agencies to ICE's detention and removals.

The transfer to ICE is an especially sore point with Democrats, who have been battling the administration on the detention and forced separation of immigrant families crossing the border.

Moreover, the diverted funds that ICE has accumulated, totaled to over $33 million which "will provide funding in support of higher priority detention and removal requirements than those for which originally appropriated", according to the documents. "Ensuring adequate funding for the detention beds requires projecting an Average Daily Population (ADP) for adult detainees as well as the daily costs incurred in keeping a detainee in custody". The document mentions Fiscal Year 2018 but doesn't include an exact date.

FEMA officials insist they are prepared for Hurricane Florence - which is heading toward Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina - and for storms in the Pacific heading to Hawaii and Guam. "At this time, we are fully focused on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and the storms in the Pacific", DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton told Politico in a statement.

The agency said it is prepared for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit North and SC, and Virginia on Thursday or Friday.

"It takes more than FEMA to respond to storms of this magnitude", FEMA Administrator Brock Long said in a statement Tuesday. Some areas could get deluged with 20 inches of rain.

The claim sparked an emphatic denial from Homeland Security, which said the impact on FEMA's response and recovery efforts was zero.