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WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of an independent commission to investigate the federal government’s inept response to Hurricane Katrina, and in opposition to the Republican proposal to create a majority dominated partisan Congressional investigative committee:
“Mr. Speaker, let no one be mistaken about why Democrats oppose this legislation.
“We oppose this bill – which would create a partisan Congressional committee to investigate the inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina – because we believe it is imperative to establish an independent commission modeled on the highly regarded 9/11 Commission.
“We are not alone.
“In fact, a Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed this week that 76 percent of Americans support an independent commission.
“Even some Republicans support such a commission.
“Just this week, for example, Senator Vitter of Louisiana – whose constituents were directly affected by this devastating hurricane – expressed his support for a commission.
“Yet, Mr. Speaker, this Republican majority today has denied Democrats the opportunity to even consider the bill offered by Mr. Hastings, which would create such an independent commission to investigate the local, state and federal response.
“Let’s be clear: the talk about bipartisanship coming from the other side of the aisle regarding a special committee is a charade.
“The Speaker and Senate Majority Leader announced this proposal without even consulting Democrats.
“The majority would have more members on the committee. And only the majority would have subpoena power.
“The reality is, if this Republican majority were charged with investigating the actions of a Democratic administration, there is no doubt in my mind that its oversight would be real and vigorous.
“But as the columnist David Broder pointed out recently:
‘Majority Republicans see themselves first and foremost as members of the bush team – and do not want to make trouble by asking hard questions.’
“This majority has refused to conduct oversight over this administration during the last four years.
“Why should we believe that it is prepared to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities now?
“We have no basis for believing that.
“And, that is why an independent commission is needed.
“I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.”