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Bush nominates Paulison as permanent FEMA chief

WASHINGTON -- With hurricane season just two months away, President Bush yesterday nominated the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be permanent head of the nation's disaster response agency.

R. David Paulison, a 30-year firefighter, took over at FEMA in September, when Bush named him to replace Michael D. Brown, who resigned in the face of unrelenting criticism over the agency's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

If confirmed by the Senate, Paulison would be undersecretary for federal emergency management at the Homeland Security Department.

''I'd be darned if I was going to turn my back on it," Paulison, 59, said during a news conference after he and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged that some others were not interested in pursuing the position.

Of the June 1 start of the hurricane season, Paulison said, ''We're going to be ready for it."

The Bush administration has been widely criticized for being unprepared for Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, and for responding to its destruction slowly.

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