Congress to hold special session on Katrina relief

The Senate and House will convene in extraordinary special sessions Thursday evening and Friday afternoon to approve emergency funding to Gulf Coast states that have been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The Senate plans to approve the spending in a session tentatively set for 10 p.m. this evening, according to a senior Senate Republican leadership aide. The House will meet at noon Friday, the chief administrative officer said in a notice sent to House offices this afternoon.

Both chambers are expected to approve an initial disbursement of $10.5 billion in hurricane relief by unanimous consent. Although any member of the House or Senate can demand a quorum call or roll-call vote, the proceedings are expected to move expeditiously and with few members in attendance.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said: "The administration notified the leadership of the Congress earlier today that [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] was running low on funds for immediate assistance and would need funds sooner than the next regularly scheduled session, Sept. 6. Upon this notification, we immediately consulted with [House Minority] Leader [Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Minority] Leader [Harry] Reid and we all agreed to invoke our emergency powers and called the Congress to reconvene."

The top five congressional leaders held a conference call Thursday afternoon with President Bush to discuss the $10.5 billion spending bill, which includes $10 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $500 million for the Pentagon. In a conference call late Thursday afternoon with reporters, Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten said that the final tab for clean-up and reconstruction will be "almost impossible to determine... until [New Orleans] is basically drained out."

Meanwhile, a GOP leadership aide said today that the Senate would proceed on schedule with the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, and that the additional supplemental spending bills related to Katrina would not have an effect on that process. The first Roberts hearing is slated for next Tuesday afternoon.

The s decision to schedule the special session followed Republican leaders' apparent rejection Wednesday of a request by Pelosi for a special session this week. GOP aides had indicated at the time that Congress could wait to take action following the Labor Day weekend.

Hastert may have prompted some additional political fallout when he told the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper that "there are some real tough questions to ask about how you go about rebuilding" New Orleans. "It doesn't make sense to me," he said in the interview posted on the newspaper's Web site -- in an apparent reference to spending billions of dollars for reconstruction of the city.

Hastert's comments prompted sharp criticism from Jim Dean, the head of Democracy for America and brother of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. "We will be here to help the people of New Orleans, no matter how long it takes and we hope that the speaker of the United States House will be too," Jim Dean declared.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.