MAJORITY LEADER FRIST’S DECISION TO ABANDON PARTISAN PLAN FOR SPECIAL INQUIRY UNDERSCORES NEED FOR INDEPENDENT KATRINA COMMISSION
Washington, DC – In the wake of Senator Frist’s decision to abandon his partisan plan for a special Congressional panel to investigate the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) again underscored the critical need to create a non-partisan, independent commission to investigate what went wrong and make recommendations about how to improve federal response to future natural and man-made disasters. Senator Clinton has introduced legislation to create a Katrina Commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, to take a serious look at the federal, state and local preparation and response and to make recommendations for how to move forward.
“I am pleased that Senator Frist has given up his pursuit of a Congressional whitewash of the government’s failures to prepare and respond to Hurricane Katrina. I hope he will now join the American people in embracing an independent Katrina Commission,” said Senator Reid. “It is clear that in order to ensure the failures that occurred are not repeated in the future we need answers independent from politics.”
“Now more than ever, it is clear that we need an independent commission free of partisan politics to provide the people in the Gulf and all Americans with the answers they need and deserve. It is simply not appropriate for government to investigate itself and, particularly with Hurricane Rita threatening the Gulf once again, it is critical that Congress not be distracted from the task at hand: making sure that our fellow citizens get the help they need as they recover and rebuild,” emphasized Senator Clinton. “I will continue to fight for the creation of the Katrina Commission because I firmly believe that we need to look back to see what went wrong so we can move forward and do better. Only through an independent Katrina Commission will we be able to know that no storm or no act of terrorism will ever again leave us so unable to respond.”
The independent Katrina Commission proposed by Senator Clinton would be modeled after the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States convened in the wake of September 11. The Katrina Commission would be charged with providing a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of what could and should have been done to avoid the extraordinary damage, the loss of life, the evacuation problems and the inadequate relief efforts that have exacerbated the dislocation and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Commission would bring together officials with knowledge, expertise, training and experience with natural disasters to determine how to fix our broken system of federal, state and local response to natural disasters of a cataclysmic nature.