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The state of play: Byard's nomination had not been withdrawn as of Wednesday evening, per one administration official.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