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Former FEMA director Brown to testify at House hearing

Pelosi refuses to appoint Democratic members to select committee

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

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Former FEMA Director Michael Brown

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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Senate
Tom Davis

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The former director of FEMA will testify next week as part of a House committee's probe into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Brown will appear before the committee Tuesday and will testify, in part, about the coordination between the federal, state, and local governments in the response, said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Virginia, the chair of the House select committee heading the investigation.

Davis said Brown agreed to testify voluntarily and a subpoena was not issued for his appearance.

Critics charge the government and its disaster agency, FEMA, were slow in responding to the devastation in the coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

In the fallout, Brown resigned from his post last week.

Hearings on the matter will begin Thursday, and will include testimony from officials from the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service. They will be called on to help establish a timeline of the storm's arrival.

House Democratic leaders have balked at naming members to the special committee out of fear the Republican-led panel will "whitewash" the investigation, according to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Davis said the committee would move forward without Democrats if Pelosi doesn't appoint anyone, but it will invite Gulf Coast Democratic lawmakers to question Brown next week if no Democrats are formally named by then.

Davis rejected Pelosi's concerns about partisanship, promising, "This will be fair, this will be by the book."

Davis said there is still a hope the House investigation will merge with a separate Senate probe, but those details still have not been worked out.

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