Friday, January 05, 2007

Legislative Inaction following Katrina

Matt Stoller is hosting a video over at MyDD where Rep. Barney Frank, the incoming Chair of the Financial Services Committee, alleges that the neglect of the housing situation in Louisina following Hurricane Katrina is "ethnic cleansing through inaction." As Stoller notes, "he said in clear language that doing nothing for New Orleans residents is an intentional strategy to make Louisiana richer, whiter, and more Republican. It's not a huge secret."

Intentional or not, the almost total inaction (particularly in the Lower Ninth Ward) for over a year is an embarrassment to the whole country, and to the do-nothing 109th Congress in particular. Hopefully the 110th Congress (which begins today) gets to work on returning the diaspora to their homes.

Back in February, five months after the hurricane, Senators Reid, Landrieu and Clinton strongly criticized President Bush for his inaction and noted how the federal government should be doing much more in rebuilding and prevention:
“It is nearly six months since Katrina, but the residents of the Gulf Coast are still waiting for the government to act,” said Senator Reid. “Right after the storm, President Bush promised action, but so far all we’ve had is talk. It is time for this Administration to keep its word and get behind reform instead of pushing a budget that will sell out these people when they need our help the most.”

“More Americans were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita than any event in our history, save the American Civil War,” Senator Landrieu said. “The people of the Gulf Coast are ready and willing to rebuild, but we need the President to fulfill his pledge to do ‘what it takes.’ It is time for the federal government does its part, because the only way we can build a better, stronger Gulf Coast is by working together.”

“What we are seeing now several months after the hurricane struck is equally troubling as what we saw in the hours and days after Katrina struck. People are being kicked out of their hotels, trailers are not getting delivered, development is not moving forward and there are still several hundred people reported missing or unaccounted,” said Senator Clinton. “We will not rest until the victims of Hurricane Katrina get the help they need and deserve. We need to fix the problems at FEMA and restore it to Cabinet-level, independent status. And we need to do everything we can to make sure that the mistakes that were made never happen again by creating an independent Katrina Commission.”

The Administration recently rejected a bipartisan rebuilding plan developed by Congressman Richard Baker and Senator Mary Landrieu while refusing to provide an alternative, and President Bush devoted one paragraph – 165 words out of 5,339 – to Gulf Coast recovery. Democrats believe we can do better. Gulf Coast residents deserve more than to be ignored.
Now, they have the power to do something about it themselves. Let's get out of Iraq and into New Orleans.

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