January 12, 2006

Barbara Lee Visits Devastated Sections of New Orleans Condemns Bush’s Lack of Urgency and Commitment to Rebuilding

(New Orleans, LA) – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) toured disaster affected regions of New Orleans, and condemned the lack of urgency and federal commitment to rebuilding New Orleans during Congressional hearings on reconstruction plans in the city today.

“After this morning’s bus tour, I’m more convinced than ever that we must attack these issues with a sense of urgency--urgency that has not been matched by the President or his Administration,” said Lee. “President Bush should be ashamed of himself, coming down here to talk up the food and blame his deficit on the hurricane, while not bothering to visit the neighborhoods that have been destroyed or to make the commitment to building levees that can actually protect this city.”

Unlike President Bush, who largely avoided the devastated sectors of the city during his visit yesterday, Lee and other members of the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Housing went to some of the areas hardest hit by hurricane Katrina, including the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, and the Lakeview area.

Members of the Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), which oversees the Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), heard testimony from Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, as well as representatives from HUD, FEMA, and local housing and Katrina survivors’ organizations.

Lee, who has introduced a series of bills to implement a coordinated government response to the issue of poverty that exacerbated Katrina’s destruction, reemphasized the need to make dealing with poverty a priority in the wake of the disaster.

“Hurricane Katrina revealed the profound crisis our nation faces with poverty,” said Lee. “It showed how different our fates can be, depending on our means and the color of our skins. This moment should galvanize us the way 9/11 did, and we should be recommitting ourselves to making America a united country, where everyone has a genuine chance of achieving the American dream.”