The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced this week that it is paying security salaries to a small but vocal group of high-level officials, who have been making headlines since the agency’s top leaders were forced to resign amid a controversy over the agency�s handling of a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
The pay increase has drawn ire from critics who say it is far too high and could jeopardize taxpayer money.
The Federal Election Commission is overseeing the increase.
The new salary is part of a $2.9 billion stimulus package that also includes a $300 million increase for FEMA�s homeland security director.
The agency said it has set aside $1.6 billion for the pay increase, which was announced Thursday.
homeland security agency is paying $2,800 to employees of the homeland security and local government departments to offset the $300M in funding, a spokesperson told Politico.
The spokesman said the new pay was announced in conjunction with the $3.5B stimulus package, which includes the $1B in emergency aid.
According to the DHS, the agency received $2 billion in emergency funding in the fiscal year that began Sept. 30, 2018, a decrease of $900 million compared with the same time period in fiscal year 2018.
That was the first time in DHS�s history that the agency saw its annual budget decrease in the year to Sept. 28, 2019.
The Feds, which had previously been able to pay a security adviser $1,800 per year, will pay a new $2 million security adviser who has the same experience, the spokesperson said.
FEMA officials said the agency is reviewing the salary increases and will determine how to adjust the pay schedule.
“This is an important step in addressing the serious issues with the overall pay structure for homeland security,” said FEMA Director Kevin Kowalczyk.
Last month, the Feds announced it would pay a senior executive to work for the agency as a senior adviser to assist with the new salary, but officials said they did not name the individual or say whether they were part of the agency or a contractor.
On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee requested a briefing on the salary structure from FEMA Administrator Brock Long and the agency.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the committee�s ranking Democrat, told reporters that he was troubled by the pay changes.
“This is not just a security pay increase for the homeland, it is a security paid increase,” Chaffetz said.
“We don�t know what the pay structure is going to be.
How much is this going to go up, how much is it going to stay the same, or will it be increased?
The DHS said the pay will be determined after an initial review of the $2M cost, which it said is a small portion of the total cost of the plan.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “
The committee will determine if this was an isolated pay increase,” Cummings said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Donald Trump has been the subject of controversy for weeks over his response to the attack, with many lawmakers and members of the media alleging that his administration mishandled the situation in Benghazi.
Trump has defended his decision to order the attacks in Benghazi and suggested that there was more to the story than that.