Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Louisiana Slams Bush Veto of Critical Flood Control Projects; Historic Override Likely

President Bush carried out his threat, discussed here in a posting on 8/2/07, to veto the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA). It included more than $3.7 billion in specific hurricane recovery projects for Louisiana and up to $7 billion in total projects that would benefit the state—as part of $23.2 billion in water projects nationwide.

Bush’s callous action certainly merits the scathing criticism by the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) on 11/2.

LRA is the planning and coordinating body that Gov. Kathleen Blanco created after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The hurricanes devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The 33-member body is charged with coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.

LRA stressed Bush’s record of broken promises since Katrina:

"WRDA is undoubtedly one of the single most significant pieces of legislation passed by Congress to restore Louisiana's hurricane and flood protection infrastructure in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita.

"In 2005, President Bush delivered a historic speech from Jackson Square and declared that the Administration would 'do what it takes' to rebuild our devastated region.

"This August, when he visited us for the second anniversary, President Bush acknowledged again how important safety and flood protection are to our recovery, saying, 'We fully understand that New Orleans [and South Louisiana] can't be rebuilt until there's confidence in the levees.'

"When the Administration had an opportunity to back up rhetoric with substantive action to enhance hurricane protection for our communities, it did not deliver.

"By vetoing WRDA, President Bush has denied the authorization of critical funds to establish the Louisiana's Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration (LCA) project, expedite closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), establish the Morganza to the Gulf hurricane protection system and other projects that will enhance our wetlands and protect our coastal communities."

WRDA passed House of Representatives 381-40 and the US Senate 81-12. LRA was hopeful that showed enough bipartisan votes to override the veto: "We all hoped it would not be necessary -- but it is -- so we urge Congress to take immediate action and override President Bush's veto of this bill."

It appears LRA is right. Yesterday the House overrode Bush’s veto by a vote of 361-54. Governor-elect Bobby Jindal returned to the House to cast his vote in favor of the override. The Senate could cast its override vote as early as today. If the Senate follows suit, it will be the first overturned veto of the Bush presidency.

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