Senate Democrats

Democratic Leaders Call for a Renewed Emphasis on Emergency Preparedness

Washington, DC — Today, two weeks following the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and four years after the tragedy of September 11th, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Ken Salazar called for a renewed emphasis on emergency preparedness. The Senators noted that now four years after the national tragedy of September 11, 2001, our government has clearly not done enough to prepare Americans for a wide scale national disaster or terrorist attack.

“In the four years between the two events, the Bush administration promised the American people that they were doing everything they could to plan, prepare and prevent another tragedy, be it a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other unexpected crisis. In the aftermath of Katrina where thousands were left behind, we now know that wasn’t the case,” said Senator Reid. “In addition to relief, we must begin to look for answers. We can’t change the past, but we can change our future.”

Senator Clinton renewed her call for an independent commission modeled after the September 11th Commission to investigate the failures by government that left thousands of Americans stranded in the Gulf Coast.

“The people of the Gulf are in desperate need of answers. And our government owes them and all Americans an explanation because we must make sure that what happened in the Gulf never happens again. An independent Katrina Commission will take a long, hard look at what went wrong at every level and make non-partisan recommendations to make it right. The Katrina Commission will allow us to look back so we can successfully move forward,” said Senator Clinton.

In the days following the Katrina disaster, there were numerous reports of first responders lacking the equipment to communicate with each other, greatly inhibiting the relief and rescue operation. Now, four years after the tragedy of September 11th, the American people were shocked to see that the country is no more prepared for a national disaster than it was on that day.

“From their very first budget, this Administration has experimented with the cutting of emergency preparedness programs in favor of other priorities. Hurricane Katrina taught us that their experiment failed. It is far past time to make the safety and security of Americans a national priority, and we can begin by restoring critical funding to our emergency preparedness systems,” said Senator Murray.

“Our Federal Government’s most important mission is to protect our homeland and American citizens,” said Senator Salazar. “Four years after 9/11, it is in excusable that our Nation failed in fulfilling its mission. It is elemental that our emergency preparedness includes readiness, response and recovery.”