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Protester Urges Lieberman To Stand For Justice On Katrina January 29, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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NEW ORLEANS (AP)–A protester shouting “Stand up for Justice” interrupted Sen. Joseph Lieberman as he opened a Monday morning congressional hearing on the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

The man yelled, “Stand up for justice! We want somebody to stand up for justice!” before a law enforcement officer led him out of the hearing room at Louisiana’s Supreme Court building.

“It’s hard to come back here more than a year after Katrina… without feeling that emotion,” Lieberman, I-Conn., said after the interruption of the hearing by the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We’re here to say that we understand the work is not done, to put it mildly.”

The committee was meeting in New Orleans to take testimony from federal, state and local officials.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was among those in attendance. He was to deliver remarks at the hearing and take part, with committee members, in a tour of the storm-battered city later Monday.

The visit by Obama, who is expected to formally announce his candidacy for president next month, comes about a month after another 2008 presidential contender, John Edwards, kicked off his campaign in New Orleans.

In remarks prepared for the committee, Obama questioned whether the federal government is doing its part to help New Orleans rebuild. He noted plans to raze several low-income housing developments, adding that “I haven’t seen concrete plans to meet the long-term housing needs of all the displaced people in New Orleans.”

Obama also said he wants to know if the health needs of the city are being met, and whether waste and fraud reported in government contracts has been eliminated.

Obama’s first visit to New Orleans after Katrina was in July 2006. His latest stop here comes here about a month after Edwards formally launched his presidential campaign by helping rebuild one of the tens of thousands of homes damaged by the Aug. 29, 2005, storm.

Like Edwards, Obama has been critical of the Bush administration’s response to Katrina, which flooded about 80% of New Orleans and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes in Mississippi.

During a recent constituent breakfast on Capitol Hill, Obama said many Americans view the government’s response to Katrina as an “embarrassment to our country and that we betrayed our own citizens.”

“Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Outstanding Need, Slow Progress” is the title of the congressional committee’s field hearing at the Louisiana Supreme Court building. The committee held a similar hearing in Mississippi last year, but that was before Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress.

Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., also were scheduled to attend the hearing, which was expected to cover a broad range of housing, public assistance and other storm-related programs.

The list of scheduled speakers Monday included Donald Powell, President Bush’s coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Government Accountability Office. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin also was scheduled to testify.

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