Tuesday, September 13, 2005

With love, Nancy

Dear Friend,

Last Wednesday I asked you to join me in calling for the replacement of Michael Brown as FEMA Director. Yesterday, Mike Brown resigned. Thank you for standing up with me and demanding that our government give the victims of Katrina and its aftermath the leadership they deserve.

It was the public outcry from people like us that helped President Bush finally recognize what I have been saying from the beginning - the federal response to this disaster must be managed by a capable, qualified leader. Together, we brought qualified leadership to the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

At times like this it is critical that we stand together for what is right.

Michael Brown has now resigned after being sent back to Washington D.C. and Admiral Thad Allen, an emergency response professional, has been put in charge of the federal management of this crisis on the ground. Admiral Allen has a difficult job ahead, but at least he brings to it years of experience - something that has been tragically lacking thus far.

With qualified, experienced, and effective leadership on the ground, we can work together to provide the victims of Hurricane Katrina with the income, food, clothing, and housing resources they desperately need to begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.

To be clear, that does not mean that the rest of the Administration has been held accountable. A thorough investigation is still absolutely necessary.

And while both parties claim to recognize this, thus far Republicans have only paid lip service to getting to the bottom of this and fixing what is wrong. While holding a press conference about their proposed "bipartisan" commission, the Republican leaders in Congress neglected to mention that:

Democrats had not even been consulted about the proposal, and had to learn about it through the press conference.
Their proposal would place more Republicans on the committee than Democrats.
Democrats would not be allowed to have vital subpoena power.
Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic Leader, has joined me in rejecting this sham committee. Americans deserve an objective assessment of what went wrong during the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Now that Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist have decided to form a partisan committee, the only way to get Americans the truth about what went wrong and how to improve the federal government's response to future disasters is by creating an independent commission.

It should be modeled after the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which did a huge service to our country with its excellent report detailing the urgent task before us to make our nation safer.

The most crucial task we face will be easing the burden on those devastated by this catastrophe. You will hear much more from us soon as Democrats put forth our ideas to help them rebuild their lives and help our country get back on its feet. We've accomplished the first step together, now let's prepare to do everything we can to make sure the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast now have a much better chance to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for lending your voice.

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader

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