(crossposted at DailyKos)
I posted a diary here at the time, but you may have missed it or forgot it, so I’ll remind you:
On Thursday afternoon after Hurricane Katrina hit, House members got an e-mail that the House was convening in special session the next day to pass emergency Katrina relief. The e-mail gave a big wink and nod that we didn’t really need to come, that there would only be a voice vote so no one would ever known whether we showed up or not.
It wasn’t convenient, but I kind of thought it was my job to show up, and Raleigh is only 40 minutes or so flying time from Washington, so I went.
We had a quick debate and a voice vote, and then other members were allowed to speak after the vote. I wanted to express my sympathy for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, especially since many North Carolinians have suffered greatly from hurricanes in the last decade.
As I listened to what other members said, I changed my mind about what I was going to say. I had heard Scott McClellan say on television the day before that “now is not the time for finger pointing.” And then I heard Republican after Republican say exactly the same words on the House floor, almost like they were not exercising independent judgment, but mindlessly parroting talking points prepared for them by someone else. Almost.
So when it was my turn to speak, this is what I said:
“…Mr. Speaker, I share the anger of many Americans at how shamefully inadequate our government’s response has been. Tens of thousands of Americans are living outside the walls of civilization. They are without food, they are without water to drink, they are without medicine or medical care, they are without effective shelter, they are without the protection against violence that law provides.
“The failures that led to that are not the failures of the last four days; but of the last four years.
“There have been repeated warnings that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were vulnerable to precisely what has occurred and yet our government was stunningly unprepared.”