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WASHINGTON, DC -- House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight concerning President Bush's speech to the nation on the rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region as the result of Hurricane Katrina:
“I think it was important that the President address the American people directly about our national commitment to help rebuild the Gulf Coast region and provide relief to those who have lost so much.
“It is clear that the President now understands the magnitude of this catastrophe. It is also clear that there are hard choices ahead, not only for the residents of the Gulf Coast but for all Americans, who will help fund this enormous recovery and rebuilding project.
"And, while I was pleased that the President acknowledged the importance of Congressional oversight, I would like him to endorse the creation of an independent commission modeled on the highly regarded 9/11 commission. It is imperative that we learn from our mistakes -- from our lack of preparation to the inept federal response -- so that we do not repeat them. I believe an independent commission would ask the hard questions, without regard to politics, get real answers and offer important recommendations.
“Finally, the President offered many comforting words and several new initiatives tonight. But Congress and the White House must follow through on these commitments. The people of the Gulf Coast will not be able to rebuild their lives with words and wishes.”