Sep 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump expected to formally nominate Peter Gaynor as FEMA chief

Donald Trump speaks during a visit to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) HQ

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

President Trump intends to tap deputy FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor as the agency's permanent director, 2 sources familiar with Trump's decision tell Axios.

Why it matters: The administration has been operating without a confirmed FEMA chief during an active hurricane season after the nomination of Jeffrey Byard stalled in the Senate.

The state of play: Byard's nomination had not been withdrawn as of Wednesday evening, per one administration official.

  • But Trump has already made a decision to move forward with Gaynor, according to sources both inside and outside of the administration.
  • Gaynor has served as the agency's acting administrator while Byard's nomination stalled in the Senate. The president was impressed with the way Gaynor handled Hurricane Dorian.

The backstory: Trump nominated Byard — the associate administrator for FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery — to lead the agency in February after former FEMA administrator Brock Long resigned amid an investigation into his personal use of government vehicles.

  • Byard's nomination went through the Senate Homeland Security Committee (HSGAC) in June, but issues regarding a personal conflict later arose and have continued to hold up his nomination.
  • Politico first reported that the White House was considering pulling Byard's nomination.

Worth noting: The nature of Byard's "personal issue," as several sources familiar describe it, is still unclear. Only a select few people — including Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson and a small circle of administration officials — actually know.

Go deeper