The Corner

Congress and Katrina

Some notes from Tom DeLay’s office from a “pen and pad” today with DeLay:

· Before I begin, I want to reiterate my support for President Bush’s address to the nation last week from New Orleans.

· His commitment to helping the people of the Gulf Coast region recover and rebuild is shared by every member of the House Republican Conference.

· Every dime that as been appropriated – and every dime that will be appropriated – from the federal treasury to the people of the Gulf Coast comes from the votes of the House of Representatives, and we are honored to have that opportunity.

o And with that opportunity comes an equally important responsibility to make sure the money comes from and goes to the right places.

· Oversight of the relief funds will remain a high priority throughout the effort.

o The $51.8 billion package we passed two weeks ago set aside $15 million for inspectors general to follow the money.

o The president is also calling on vigorous IG accounting.

o Committees here on the Hill are already following suit, preparing for robust oversight over every dime.

o The Congress’ moral obligation to the people of the Gulf Coast is not simply that we send money down there, but that that money does what it is supposed to do for them.

· Just as important as where the money goes is where it comes from.

o Even before the flood waters started to recede, many voices were calling for Katrina-related tax hikes. But those same voices were calling for tax hikes before Katrina was even a blip on the Doppler radar.

· Katrina tax hikes are not about Katrina; they’re about tax hikes, and they are not an option.

o Raising taxes would kill jobs, choke off investment, and stifle economic growth. That’s not exactly a recipe for the kind of economic renewal that region so desperately needs.

· Instead, I hope some of the money can be the product of spending sacrifices elsewhere in the federal budget.

o There are programs all over the federal budget that are bloated or wasteful or inefficiently using the funds we provide them, and I’m very interested in identifying them.

· We can fund this relief effort without raising taxes or wasteful spending – and it’s up to us to do just that.

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