It says in the Bible that when there is injustice in the world, the poorest people and those with the least power, are injured the most. That was demonstrated two years ago, when Hurricane Katrina reached our shores and a natural disaster was compounded by a disaster of man. It has been the responsibility of people of conscience — particularly elected officials — to help right that injustice. That has been the work of Democrats in Congress for the survivors of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Democrats long promised the survivors of Katrina that we would do everything in our power to help them. When we gained the majority in January, we gained power to get to work on keeping our promises to the region. In just seven months, we have sent more than $6.4 billion to the region – $3 billion more than President Bush's request – for significant initiatives such as helping schools recover, bolstering levees, and maintaining health facilities.
We have waived the local matching requirement under the Stafford Act, saving the region $1.9 billion and allowing work to begin on 20,000 stalled projects. And we have held more than 30 hearings to ask the hard questions about the response to and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Such oversight is essential to ensuring such a failed response never happens again.
This month, when I joined a congressional delegation traveling to the Gulf Coast — our third such trip – we walked through the communities, visiting homes and schools, and listening to concerns in order to understand what still needs to be done. We saw firsthand that the survivors of Katrina lost their houses, they lost their communities, but they never lost their hope. And we created a new partnership between Congress and the region to keep that hope alive with real progress on behalf of all of Katrina's survivors.