Landrieu Fights for Fair Hurricane Recovery Rules / Seeks to Overcome Obstructionist Opposition
Seeks to Overcome Obstructionist Opposition
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., took the Senate floor today and defended an amendment to the 9/11 Commission bill, S. 4, that would right hurricane funding rules unfair to Louisiana but has been met with opposition by some Republican senators who object to having an up-or-down vote on the measure. In response, Sen. Landrieu said that she intends to object to holding votes on other amendments until the objections to this measure are dropped.
"Fair treatment for the people working to rebuild hurricane damaged communities in Louisiana should not be held hostage to this kind of obstructionism," Sen. Landrieu said, noting that several Republican senators have co-sponsored her amendment. "This issue is about fundamental fairness. It's about meeting federal responsibilities and ensuring a full recovery."
The Fair Assistance in Recovery Funding Amendment, S. Amdt. 295, would waive for Katrina- and Rita-affected communities provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Act that require localities to match 10 percent of the cost for disaster recovery projects before the remaining 90 percent is filled by the federal government. With local tax bases devastated by the hurricanes, and the provision's excessive paperwork requirements for each of the 23,000 public assistance projects in Louisiana alone, the match has become a significant obstacle to Gulf Coast recovery.
No Democratic senators have objected to the Landrieu FAIR Funding amendment, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that it technically bears no cost to the federal government.
"I ask the leadership to schedule a vote on this because it is something that is clearly justified," Sen. Landrieu said. "It could be done administratively, but it hasn't been. Because the administration has not acted, Congress now has a responsibility to act, to do what's right and to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape that's strangling our recovery. Our communities need this waiver so they can rebuild roads and bridges and houses and schools that need to be rebuilt."
President Bush has the authority to waive the onerous requirement without legislation when per capita rebuilding costs become excessive -- a presidential authority that has been exercised 32 times since 1985. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush waived the requirement when the per capita recovery cost of Hurricane Andrew reached $139. It was also waived for New York City following the attacks of September 11th, where the per capita cost totaled $390. But despite a $6,700 per capita recovery cost following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Administration has thus far refused repeated requests for such a waiver.