Senate Democrats

Reid and Pelosi Call on Congress to Address America’s Priorities

Together, We Can Do Better For Working Families

Washington, D.C. - With Republicans focused this week on pushing through their immoral budget that spends billions more on tax breaks for the wealthy while cutting health care, housing and other assistance for working families, Democrats are determined to do better for American families. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met today with Hurricane Katrina survivors to discuss how Republican budget cuts will hurt Gulf Coast citizens, and what the Congress should be doing to help these families deal with the issues that matter most to them. The leaders addressed how together, America can do better than the Republicans’ misplaced priorities and they called on Congress to work on solutions to provide immediate relief to Katrina survivors, lower skyrocketing energy prices, and help protect Americans from a potential Avian flu pandemic.

“Republicans talk a good game about helping victims. But when it comes time for meaningful action, they are no where to be found. Even worse, for every small step forward we take, Republicans have policies that march us two steps back,” said Senator Reid. “At a time when hundreds of thousands of families are in need, Republicans want to cut health care, housing and other assistance, so they can spend more on tax breaks for a wealthy few. After all we’ve been through and seen in the last two months, this is not the time to cut assistance for those with the least, just so we can spend more on tax breaks for those with the most.”

“It is a cruel hoax on the victims of Katrina to use their plight to promote a budget that doesn’t address their needs, that increases the deficit, and gives tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country. Republicans are claiming that in order to help the victims of Katrina, Congress must cut Medicaid by $10 billion dollars. They are asking the poorest children in America, who depend on Medicaid for health care, to pay for the care for the children of Katrina. It’s simply not fair,” said Leader Pelosi.

The Democratic Leaders met with a group of Hurricane Katrina survivors who shared their stories about how the recovery is progressing on the ground in the Gulf Coast and what help and assistance they still have not received. Dian Palmer of New Orleans spoke about how she organized a team of nurses to volunteer in the Gulf Coast and care for those in need. She has witnessed closed hospitals, an on-going situation where there is no reliable health care system, and a desperate need for Medicaid funds and care. Vincent Wilson spoke about how the people of New Orleans want to lift themselves up and rebuild their lives but that local contractors are still struggling to find work because of the way contracts are being awarded throughout the Gulf Coast.

“I lost my job and the benefits that come with it and when I recently applied to get some help from the government in the form of Medicaid I was rejected. Turned down. Refused,” said another survivor, Michelle Baker, of New Orleans. “I can’t believe that some people in Washington think that after a category 5 hurricane the solution is to unleash a category 5 assault on working families. We may not be stuck on roof tops any more – but at times we feel just as stranded and just as neglected by this administration as we did then.”

The Democratic Leaders shared with the survivors their efforts to get the victims of Hurricane Katrina the assistance they need. They discussed their efforts to get health care assistance to more victims through Medicaid, make housing assistance more available and provide immediate financial relief to those affected. The leaders also discussed how they are fighting the immoral Republican budget that will make things even worse for so many of these families. They called on their Republican colleagues to set aside their misplaced priorities and address America’s priorities.

###

Bookmark and Share