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September 07, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-07

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 7, 2005 - 9A

Bush to request $40b
more in hurricane relief

Politicians vow to
investigate intial federal
response to the hurricane
WASHINGTON (AP) - President
Bush intends to seek as much as $40
billion to cover the next phase of relief
and recovery from Hurricane Katrina,
congressional officials said yesterday
as leading lawmakers and the White
House pledged to investigate an initial
federal response widely condemned as
woefully inadequate.
One week after the hurricane inflicted
devastation of biblical proportions on the
Gulf Coast, Senate Democratic leader
Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), said the total tab
for the federal government may top $150
billion. At the same time, senators in both
parties said they suspect price gouging by
oil companies in the storm's aftermath.
Relief and recovery needs will be the
"number one priority for the foreseeable
future," pledged House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay of Texas as Congress con-
vened after a five-week vacation.
Republicans and Democrats alike
heaped criticism on the Federal Emer-
gency Management Administration,
the government's front-line responder
agency for national disasters. House
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told
Bush to his face at the White House
that he should fire the agency's director,
Michael Brown. "The president thanked
me for my suggestion," the California

Democrat said afterward.
Stung by earlier criticism, Bush invit-
ed congressional leaders to the White
House for an afternoon meeting, then
dispatched several Cabinet officials to
the Capitol to brief rank-and-file mem-
bers. "Bureaucracy is not going to stand
in the way of getting the job done for the
people," Bush told reporters.
House and Senate committee chair-
men announced investigations, while
House Speaker Dennis Hastert sug-
gested a bipartisan House-Senate probe.
"We're ready to get going," he said.
Some Democrats called for an inde-
pendent commission along the lines of
the one appointed after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks. "There was nobody in
charge at the federal government, there
was nobody willing to take responsibility
to work with the state and local officials,"
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New
York said at a news conference.
Whatever their plans, lawmakers
took largely symbolic actions on their
first day in the Capitol since the storm
- the Senate expressing condolences
to victims of the storm and the House
observing a moment of silence.
Bush did not specify at the meeting
with congressional leaders how much
he would request for additional relief. A
$10.5 billion down-payment approved
last week is "being used at an increas-
ingly rapid pace. We're readying a
second installment now and a precise
number is currently being determined,"

said Scott Milburn, an Office of Man-
agement and Budget spokesman.
The congressional officials who said
the total could be as high as $40 bil-
lion from Congress did so on condition
of anonymity because it was not clear
when the formal announcement would
be made. Reid said he expected a request
in the range of $40 billion to $50 billion.
The unprecedented scope of the
destruction swiftly shot relief and
recovery items to the top of Congress's
autumn to-do list.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-
Tenn.) put off planned votes on elimi-
nation of the inheritance tax, a GOP
priority, and Sen. Charles Grassley,
(R-Iowa) said the need to address hur-
ricane-related difficulties would further
postpone action Bush's long-delayed
call for overhauling Social Security.
At the same time, Frist, like Bush,
made clear Republicans want John Rob-
erts's confirmed as the nation's 17th chief
justice in time to take his seat before the
Oct. 3 opening of the Supreme Court's
term. Hearings on Roberts' nomination
open next Monday.
Individual lawmakers outlined
numerous suggestions to ease the bur-
den caused by the storm and ensu-
ing New Orleans-area flood that left
an unknown number of people dead,
uncounted thousands of homes and
businesses damaged or destroyed and
drove hundreds of thousands of Ameri-
cans from their homes.

AP PHOTO
President Bush speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on Aug. 31 after meeting with a White House
task force on recovery efforts to help deal with problems from Hurricane Katrina.

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