Senate Democrats

Reid Floor Statement on Katrina Commission

Remarks as prepared:

Mr. President, there are many things we don’t yet know about the government’s response to Katrina, but two things are clear to us all: the federal government’s response was unacceptable and the victims and all Americans deserve to know why.

Following 9/11, preparedness for national emergencies was supposed to be a priority for this government. Americans were made to believe the government was doing everything it could to prepare for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other national crises.

Katrina makes it clear this government has failed.

We must find out why immediately to make sure the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina never happens again. When we faced a similar situation after September 11, Democrats and Republicans came together and established an independent, blue-ribbon Commission.

Republicans now apparently want a different approach. Yesterday, the Republicans unveiled their proposal to investigate the events of last week. They called it a “bipartisan commission.”

Although I have no details on this proposal, what little I do know raises serious concerns about whether their proposal will provide Americans the answers they deserve.

One, it’s not bi-partisan. An investigation of the Republican Administration by a Republican-controlled Congress is like having a pitcher call his own balls and strikes.

Second, it does not provide a role for committees. We have a committee structure in place to investigate matters like this. After 9/11, these committees played a key role in investigating events. We have excellent chairmen and ranking members in the Senate, and they should be permitted to exercise their responsibilities.

Finally, we have seen what happens when this administration – or any administration – investigates itself. The American people will not get the real answers they deserve.

These are serious concerns about the Republican approach. Americans deserve answers independent of politics. That’s why Democrats and Republicans preferred an independent commission for investigating 9/11, and we should be following that model now.

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