September 19, 2019 / 8:45 PM / a month ago

White House withdraws Byard's nomination to head FEMA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday it withdrew the nomination of Jeffrey Byard to head the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after concerns were raised in his background investigation.

The agency, which oversees government responses to disasters like hurricanes, has been without a Senate-confirmed administrator since Brock Long resigned in March.

The Homeland Security Department had determined that Long had inappropriately used government vehicles to commute between Washington and his home in North Carolina.

Byard, who currently serves as FEMA associate administrator for response and recovery, asked last week that his nomination be withdrawn, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Byard’s background check found allegations of a barroom altercation that occurred before he joined the agency two years ago, the New York Times reported. It said the FBI determined the allegations were unsubstantiated.

President Donald Trump was expected to nominate acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor to lead the agency, according to multiple media reports.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One late on Wednesday that he thought Byard “would have been very good.” But he said: “We’re also very happy with the man who’s acting,” referring to Gaynor.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney

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