Saturday, September 10, 2005

Right-Wing Congress Stacks Investigative Body and Loots Katrina Aid
Right-Wing Congress Stacks Investigative Body and Loots Katrina Aid

Our nation’s right-wing congressional leaders yesterday attempted to one-up President Bush in the shame-and-embarrassment category. With only Republican members in attendance, House Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist announced the creation of a GOP-dominated “investigative” committee—created behind closed doors by members of the majority party alone—to uncover what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina. Congress then announced that debate on a $52 billion Katrina aid package would be limited to a mere 40 minutes—just enough time to ensure that no one learns about all the special interest, corporate pork stuffed into the disaster relief bill. Outrage is in full order today.

* The clearly partisan “Hurricane Katrina Joint Review Committee” should be denounced as a farce. Adding to President Bush’s fanciful claim that he will get to the bottom of his own failures, Congress yesterday devised a congressional counterpart to whitewash matters and shift blame from their end of Pennsylvania Avenue. According the Washington Post, the investigative committee set up by Hastert and Frist “will include only members of Congress, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a yet-to-be-determined ratio. The commission, which will have subpoena powers, will investigate the actions of local, state and federal governments before and after the storm that devastated New Orleans and other portions of the Gulf Coast.”

* The $52 billion Katrina aid package is set to be passed with almost no debate and no scrutiny of what greedy lobbyists and untoward congressmen stuffed into the bill. The House of Representatives, at the urging of conservative leadership, voted to limit floor debate of the Katrina aid package to a scant 40 minutes and prevent any amendments from being offered. According to Representative Louis Slaughter (D-NY), prior to precluding the possibility of amendments, "no one had yet to even see a copy of the legislation." This means no one will know who gets what before hand, how it will be distributed, who will benefit, and who is taking advantage of taxpayers. There will be no discussion of how to actually fix the problems that created the mess in the first place and no accountability for failures.

* When Americans are down and out, count on conservative leaders to show who they truly care about—themselves and their corporate backers. With tens of thousands of people displaced, and utter devastation across much of the Gulf Coast, our nation’s right-wing leaders have really stepped up to the plate. They failed to respond to the disaster; then tried to shift the blame and whitewash their own failures; and now want to close off scrutiny of their actions and take advantage of relief funding to enrich special interests. A fitting way to close the door on this ugly period in American history.