News

Republican-led Hurricane Probes Move Ahead Despite Democrat Objections

Multimedia

Audio

As hurricane Rita gathers strength and heads toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, lawmakers in Washington are moving ahead with inquiries into the government's slow response to hurricane Katrina.

Congressman Tom Davis, appointed by the Republican House of Representatives leadership to head one congressional inquiry in the House, says there is no time to waste in moving ahead.

"It is important historically, it is important legislatively. I think the public wants to know, [to] get a factual basis hopefully that everybody can agree [on]," said Congressman Davis. "And this shouldn't be partisan at all. I don't think it is going to be pretty for anybody involved in a situation like this, but [we need to] lay out what happened, what decisions were made, so that we have that full understanding."

Opposition Democrats insist only an independent commission can produce the kind of thorough account Americans expect of what went wrong with the response to Katrina.

Congressman Henry Waxman is the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee

"What the American people want is to have confidence in investigations, that they are really unbiased," said Congressman Waxman.

Congressman Davis says he welcomes what he calls the tenacity Democrats would bring to the inquiry, adding they will have the opportunity to subpoena witnesses as part of the Republican-managed select panel.

Democrats argue a Republican-led inquiry will be inadequate, and have so far indicated they might decline to participate in the panel, whose members are being appointed by the Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

House Speaker Hastert says Republicans are committed to ensuring there will be strict accountability for billions of dollars being committed and spent for hurricane relief.

"[To] make sure that these dollars are spent for what is intended, for what the American people and this Congress intend it to do. It is our responsibility to take a look at this money, to make sure it is spent wisely, and that is what we will do," said House Speaker Hastert.

With the question of a possible joint House-Senate inquiry still unanswered, Republican Senator Susan Collins told reporters she will go ahead with an inquiry in her Homeland Security Committee.

While not ruling out an eventual independent commission, she says Congress must show it is taking action.

"My initial reaction is that it is premature, but it is not something I have ruled in or out. Regardless if we have an independent outside commission, it is important that the congressional investigation go forward," said Senator Collins. "Only we have the authority to change laws [and] institute reforms that are undoubtedly going to be necessary and we would be remiss if we did not have an aggressive, vigorous, congressional review."

Appearing with House Republicans Wednesday, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said the people of his state are focusing not on politics but on the future.

"Our people are upbeat, optimistic, they are not into moping or whining or victimhood, they are self-reliant, they are resilient, and they are already rebuilding," said Governor Barbour.

The House and Senate continue to approve legislation aimed at addressing economic and other impacts of hurricane Katrina, the latest a bill in the House providing tax breaks for victims and businesses.

No fewer than 11 additional hearings are scheduled in Congress over the next week, including one by the Republican-led select committee at which the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, is expected to testify.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs