Monday, March 13, 2006

Devastation without Representation

In the first round of community development block grants, Louisiana got a little over half of the money ($6.2 billion out of $11.5) with well over half of the destruction to deal with.

Bush pledged another $4.2 billion for Louisiana in the next round to make up for the under-representation. But a House committee refused to specify that money for Louisiana only:

It only took one look down the dais at the House Appropriations Committee hearing last week to persuade U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, to hold off on his amendment earmarking the housing money for Louisiana. Alexander is Louisiana's only member on the key spending committee, where Texas holds five seats.

Alexander said that if he pressed for Louisiana to get a share of the grant money, Texas and Mississippi lawmakers would stake their own claims.
While Texas has the numbers on the appropriations committee, the LRA is showing a slide show with some different numbers:
The slide show, which is based on federally compiled disaster statistics, says that of all of the major flood damage to homes from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Louisiana suffered 77 percent. It says that a lone neighborhood in New Orleans, Gentilly, suffered more housing damage than the entire state of Texas.
More than houses were destroyed by the hurricanes. There is a lot of need on the Gulf Coast. Everyone should “stake their own claims” and let the numbers decide where the limited resources go – not how much clout a state may have in Washington.

No matter what happens in committees, we need more than assurances that help is coming:
[Alexander] decided to hold off based on assurances he said he has received from the Bush administration that the Department of Housing and Urban Development ultimately will steer the entire $4.2 billion to Louisiana.
Can we get that in writing, preferably written in a supplemental spending bill?

1 comment:

rampoldi said...

Yes, writing "Louisiana" there would help. Maybe the Senate Appropriations Committee will do that when they mark-up the House bill. [Landrieu, are you there?] Congress will be on recess for Easter Week around the 10th, so the $4.2 billion may not become law for another 2 months or so.