House committee demands briefing on Hawaii wildfire relief

EXCLUSIVE — The House Small Business Committee sent a letter to the Small Business Administration seeking information and a staff-level briefing on how the agency is assisting victims of the Hawaii wildfire in disaster relief.

Chairman Roger Williams (R-TX) sent the letter, which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, to Isabella Casillas Guzman, the administrator of the SBA, saying that since the victims of the Maui fires are receiving a “lackluster government response” in aid, “the Committee seeks information and requests a staff level briefing on the SBA’s response to this tragedy.”

The SBA provides disaster loans that help homeowners and business owners recover and rebuild from natural disasters, as well as assists through “Business Recovery Centers and by coordinating with the Resource Partner Network comprised of Small Business Development Centers, SCORE Chapters, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers.”

“The Committee is keenly aware of the challenges that disaster efforts face and how the SBA helps survivors rebuild,” Williams wrote in the letter. “When Americans are in need, the resources their tax dollars fund should, at minimum, work effectively. The Committee is interested in ensuring that these resources are being administered properly.”

In part, the committee is requesting that the SBA provide the committee with a copy of its immediate response plan and efforts underway to assist those affected; its average disaster loan review, approval, and disbursement times for loans associated with the Maui fires; and its long-term plan to assist homeowners and business owners affected by the fires on Maui.

The administration has until Aug. 31 to respond.

The federal government’s response to the Hawaii wildfires has been highly criticized by Republicans, especially following President Joe Biden’s blunder-filled trip to the state to survey the damage.

Earlier on Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said there will likely be a congressional investigation into the federal government’s response to the wildfires.

“I’m very concerned about the response,” McCarthy said in New York. “We still have hundreds of individuals that are missing. I think there’s gonna have to be a congressional investigation in response of what happened. How could we lose that many Americans in today’s age? And the federal response seems very delayed. The president’s response to have no comment? That’s unacceptable. So I’m going to work with committees too to look at investigating what went on so that never happens again as well.”

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