Tina Burch/ZUMA Press/NewscomThe Trump administration came under fire this week following the revelation that almost $10 million had been transferred from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help pay for the detention and removal of immigrants.
Jeff Byard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's associate administrator for response and recovery, said the important issue was that the hurricane would be a "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" and people had to heed evacuation orders. "We have plenty of resources to respond, plenty of resources to recover".
FEMA Administrator Brock Long also insisted that the funding given to ICE did not come from the disaster relief fund.
Long, who took over past year 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.
Yoder's campaign says that the $10 million transferred from FEMA was not money that could be spent on disaster relief or preparations.More news: IPhone Xs Max: 5 Reasons Why to Go to the Max
Where did that money come from?
In a statement, FEMA Director of External Affairs Jessica Nalepa referred any questions about the reported investigation to the DHS inspector general's office, and said the disaster agency cooperated with all such investigations.
As for FEMA, the notifying document states that the "Mission impact" will be "minimized", as the agency will scale back training, travel, public engagement sessions and IT security support and infrastructure maintenance. That represents just under 1% of the agency's overall budget.
The senator claims the money will support immigration detention programs. Instead, it was money from an administrative account, and there is $25.6 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
But it's unclear exactly when the money from FEMA was reallocated as the document simply notes Fiscal Year 2018 but does not include an exact date.More news: Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin spotted at NY Marriage Bureau
The almost $10 million was taken from various places within FEMA, including training, preparedness and protection, and response and recovery operations.
This June, a group of immigrant and human rights groups raised the alarm about ICE's requests for fund transfers, accusing DHS of "asking for forgiveness rather than permission after dramatically overspending its appropriated budget in ways both morally reprehensible and fiscally irresponsible".
It is true that Congress sets funding levels for all parts of government through the appropriations process.
DHS can transfer money internally with congressional approval, the network noted. Sen. Leahy, a Democrat who is the Senate Appropriations Committee vice chairman, said the transfer was approved by the subcommittee chairs and no Democrats signed off on it.More news: Hurricane Florence Begins Days Of Rain, Wind Across Carolinas
Merkley calls the transfer "reprehensible", and immigration advocates say it highlights an alarming shift in priorities, but the White House is adamant that the redistribution of funds will have no harmful effect on the response to Hurricane Florence.