Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Connecticut's Congressional Delegation Responds to Katrina

What are our representatives in Washington doing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist?

Sen. Chris Dodd (D)

Sen. Dodd has mostly been busy dealing with the aftermath of Rehnquist’s death and President Bush’s sudden elevation of associate justice nominee John Roberts as his replacement. Dodd, along with New York Sen. Charles Schumer, has been trying to convince Bush to persuade Sandra Day O’Connor to stay on until January:

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said President Bush should ask Sandra Day O’Connor to rescind her retirement and perhaps become chief justice.

"Asking her to stay on, at least until January, gives the president a bit more time to think this process through, rather than trying to jam decisions," Dodd told Fox News Sunday. (AP)

Dodd also turned up at the State Armory in Hartford yesterday to visit with volunteers.

" Dodd wants O’Connor to rescind retirement plans." Associated Press 5 September 2005.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D)

Our junior senator has had a few harsh words for the federal government following their inept response to the disaster, and is planning to investiage:

"While it is too early to reach conclusions on the response of government to this catastrophe, it is increasingly clear that serious shortcomings in preparedness and response have hampered relief efforts at a critical time," U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Joseph Lieberman said in a statement.

Collins, R-Maine, is chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and Lieberman, D-Conn., is the ranking minority member. They said the committee will investigate actions before and after hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. (AP)

Lieberman and Dodd are also supporting emergency aid to poorer people in cold-weather states as high heating costs loom.

"Senate to investigate hurricane preparedness, response." Associated Press 2 September, 2005.

Rep. John Larson (D-1)

Larson is planning to introduce legislation designed to keep gas prices low.

Congressman John Larson says he'll introduce legislation next week to place a tax on oil companies that make excess profits.

"We need action now, we need to demystify this process, the public is demanding answers. It's time for the U.S. Congress to step forward," says Rep. John Larson, (D) First District. (AP/WTNH)

Larson was very quick to speak out against possible price gouging last week. His rhetoric may cool now that prices have apparently leveled off.

"Politicians advise on high gas prices." Associated Press/WTNH 1 September, 2005.

Rep. Rob Simmons (R-2)

Simmons went to Washington Friday to vote for emergency assistance for the Gulf Coast.

…Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, described on the House floor efforts in Connecticut to help Katrina's victims.

"Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, but this is not just a Gulf Coast calamity," he said. "I am proud that not only is the federal government stepping up to do more, but my home state of Connecticut is also taking action." (Lightman)

Otherwise, Simmons has mostly been talking about BRAC, instead.

Lightman, David. "Congress Backs Relief Package." Hartford Courant 3 September, 2005.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3)

DeLauro also had harsh words for the administration in the wake of the crisis.

"There are serious questions regarding the administration's competence in responding to this tragedy," said Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District. "In particular, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's incoherent response in the days following this disaster has been unacceptable." (Lightman)

She will also join John Larson in introducing anti-price gouging legislation.

Lightman, David. "Congress Backs Relief Package." Hartford Courant 3 September, 2005.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-4)

Shays had very harsh words for the federal government, and vowed to investigate:

"The bottom line is the whole thing is pretty shocking," said Shays, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.

Shays, who traveled to Washington Friday to vote on the $10.5 billion emergency relief package, said he plans to hold hearings on the government's stalled relief effort once the immediate crisis in New Orleans and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast stabilizes. "This is Third World stuff, and you'd like to think that we'd get right on it."

"This is a bit unsettling, frankly," Shays said, adding that years of preparation for another terrorist attack after Sept. 11, 2001, should have paid off after a natural disaster. "In the process of preparing for man-made catastrophe, we also knew that Mother Nature could do the same stuff."

The government should have had a plan ready to execute immediately if the New Orleans levees failed, Shays said. "I don't know if that plan existed, candidly," he said. "I thought it did, but based on the outcome, it makes you wonder." (Dalena)

Shays has so far been the most vocal critic of the administration in our Congressional delegation.

Dalena, Doug. "Shays, Lieberman vow probe into feds' response." Stamford Advocate 4 September, 2005.

Update: Apparently the House's hearings have been cancelled. A joint committee will investigate instead.

Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-5)

Johnson hasn’t done or said very much about the events of the past week. Here’s what I could find:

Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-5th District, was in her district, visiting the Farmington office of the American Red Cross to discuss local relief efforts. (Lightman)

…That’s it. Otherwise, she’s been doing other things.

Lightman, David. "Congress Backs Relief Package." Hartford Courant 3 September, 2005.


Paul Vance said...

Nancy Johnson's inaction as our Congresswoman is embarassing and frankly, insulting. This is precisely why I am seeking to run for Congress in the 5th CD. We need someone who will represent us---not hide in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Before they cast stones, shouldn't they disclose how they voted on the budget reductions for the (AOE) Army Corps, the reorganization of FEMA into Homeland Security and the appointments to FEMA.

Dave Mooney said...

Re: Shays. Perhaps the most vocal critic but how many times has he voted for Hastert and Delay into the leadership? All that talk may get him votes in his district but it amounts to nothing but hot air. His partisanship allows the right-wing to maintain control of our House of Representitives ensuring his words count for nothing.

Genghis Conn said...

Shays is trying to survive. It isn't surprising that he's so vocal, given that he just barely survived in 2004, and he's up against the same opponent in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Larson and DeLauro's "anti-gauging" legislation is dangerous.

It essential creates price controls on gas...sounds nice (who likes high gas), but will result in shortages. Those of us who are older remember the 1970's oil embargo, when the government did the same thing...put caps on how much oil companies would charge. The result? Consumers kept demanding the same amount of gas rather than driving less, and we got gas shortages, long lines, and general panic. Simple economics 101-- supply goes down, price goes up, consumers demand less.

I simply can't believe our leaders have not learned from our mistakes of the past. High gas prices suck, but the answer is to get our refineries in the Gulf back up and running (and open new ones, which hasn't happened in 20 years because of environmental concenrs).

DeanFan84 said...


Would you have a problem with a windfall profit tax that went to relief for the poor?

For most of us, high gasoline prices are an annoyance. We still drive as much, or almost as much, and we just spend a little less eating out.

But for a working poor person, who commutes to their job, it can be a real burden.

Why should the oil companys get fat over an oil shortage anyway? Plus we regulate electricity rates, and this hasn't led to more brown-outs.

Anonymous said...

Are oil companies raising prices just because they can do so or because there is restricted supply because of refineries shutting down? I think it is obviously the latter (or they would have raised the prices earlier!)

Truth is that oil is a commodity and as such is in what economists call a "perfectly competitive" market. Thus, the price is set by supply and demand, pure and simply. Supply has gone down because of Katrina, and demand has not fallen yet. Thus prices go up.

Does this result in larger profits for the oil companies? Yes. Do I think this is somehow morally wrong? No.

If we are going to tax the oil companies now, are we going to subsidize them when they are not making money? I doubt it.

So while I am all for relief to the poor people displaced by Katrina, this "soak the rich" solution is only dangerous-- it will result in shortages, not a lowering of the price.

Larson and DeLauro should know better-- they are pandering based on economics they know to be wrong.

Nate said...

DeanFan, I couldn't agree more. I think a windfall tax is a good idea. People who argue that the economics will work themselves out are right, but in the meantime poor people suffer the burden like they do in so many other (recent) situations.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good article explaining why the "windfall profit tax" (which sounds like socialism to me) is a bad idea:

Paul said...

Bysiewicz to drop out:,0,6505569.story?coll=hc-headlines-home

She's probably smart to do so. Any thoughts on how this changes the dynamics?

Anonymous said...

Joe "Tailgunner" Lieberman led the appointment hearing for Brown, such a hypocrite! A quote for an AP report.

"But the dim view of Brown's qualifications by senators seems to have emerged only in hindsight. Members of both parties seemed little troubled by his background at 2002 Senate hearings that led to his confirmation as deputy FEMA chief.

"Indeed, Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who led those hearings, called Brown's long-ago stint as assistant city manager in Edmond, Okla., a "particularly useful experience" because he had responsibility for local emergency services."

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