Friday, September 09, 2005

Congressional "Bipartisan" Commission Not Looking so Bipartisan

Ain't this grand. Politics as usual is getting in the way of actually making progress. Thanks, folks, for standing up for what actually matters to Americans: more partisan bickering.

From the Post:

As a day of dueling speeches and news conferences made clear yesterday, the two parties will battle intensely to influence the inevitable investigations into the serious shortcomings in the government's response to the catastrophe in New Orleans and its environs. While Republicans have more members in the House and Senate, Democrats say they have more credibility and enthusiasm for the government services that Katrina's wreckage will require: urban renewal, aid to the poor and robust social programs.

With the midterm congressional elections 14 months away, both parties see high stakes in where blame will eventually fall for the government's lagging response to Katrina. Yesterday, congressional Republicans tried to get a head start, announcing the formation of an investigative commission that they can control.

They rejected Democratic appeals to model the panel after the Sept. 11 commission, which was made up of non-lawmakers and was equally balanced between Republicans and Democrats. That commission won wide praise for assessing how the 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, and for recommending changes in the government's anti-terrorism structure.

House and Senate GOP leaders announced the "Hurricane Katrina Joint Review Committee," which will include only members of Congress, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a yet-to-be-determined ratio. The commission, which will have subpoena powers, will investigate the actions of local, state and federal governments before and after the storm that devastated New Orleans and other portions of the Gulf Coast.

"Congress is actively responding to the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina," House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said in a statement released during an appearance attended only by Republicans, after an all-GOP planning session.

The announcement came a day after President Bush said his administration would conduct an investigation into the Katrina response and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) ordered the House Government Reform Committee to suspend plans for immediate hearings. Democrats denounced both actions, and they called the Frist-Hastert plan inadequate. They vowed to push their own proposals for helping the storm's victims and investigating government agencies' responses.

A Republican-led Congress cannot be trusted to make a thorough investigation of a Republican administration, said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). "Democrats strongly prefer that the response to Hurricane Katrina be investigated by a commission of independent experts like the 9/11 commission," he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the new commission "is not truly bipartisan, will not be made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, cannot write legislation and will not have bipartisan subpoena power."

From the moment the dimensions of New Orleans' devastation became apparent, Democrats and some nonpartisan groups have said the Bush administration's response was slow, uncertain and unenergetic. Some said the tragedy required a strong and visceral devotion to social services, which are dearer to Democrats than to Republicans.

Posted by crimnos @ 2:07 PM

Read or Post a Comment

If President John F. Kennedy were alive today he would register Republican after one look at the LibDem Party.

Posted by Blogger dax @ 2:31 PM #

Yeah, when I think "someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad" I sure think about someone like Dick Cheney.

Posted by Blogger crimnos @ 5:55 PM #
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