Statement of Governor Haley Barbour Concerning the passage of the Congressional relief package
"Congress has already passed or has pending Katrina related legislation that will be crucial to the rebuilding of the Coast and South Mississippi and to the rebuilding of tens of thousands of lives in the devastated area. After final passage this package will grant our Katrina victims and our state support that is literally without precedent in our country's history.
Senator Thad Cochran deserves more credit than anyone. Through his patience and perseverance, his position of power but also the immense respect his fellow Senators have for him, Thad got his colleagues to agree to a critical package for hurricane relief, and I expect final passage this week. Thad's is a magnificent achievement.
Senator Trent Lott also proved why Mississippi and America need him in the Senate. He spearheaded passage of a tax bill that will greatly stimulate investment and reinvestment in our state. It will create new jobs and restore old jobs. He and Congressman Chip Pickering also led negotiations that resulted in a $2 billion package of provisions to help support Medicaid and to provide health care to evacuees and displaced people from the Gulf region.
I want to express my personal appreciation to Speaker Denny Hastert, whose support and personal involvement were indispensable. He and the House Republican Leadership, including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, recognized the needs of our region and agreed to unprecedented large-scale programs to allow us to rebuild and renew the Coast, South Mississippi and the Gulf region.
Our entire Congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, worked to help. I particularly recognize the help of Congressman Roger Wicker, whose influence as a member of the House Appropriations Committee played a major role in the $29 billion special appropriations package.
In November, when the White House proposed a $17 billion Katrina relief package, it contained a lot of important things for Mississippi, but, as I said at the time, there were other critical things that were not in there.
Senator Cochran and his team began working with the state immediately, and he instructed his folks to put together a package to add to the President's proposal and to be sure it included what Mississippi needs. Senator Cochran got an additional $12 billion added to the package, much of it for activities the federal government had never done before. Most important among those is to help homeowners who lived outside the flood zone but had their homes destroyed by the storm surge. The House of Representatives passed Thad's package early this morning, and the Senate will take it up this week. We owe Thad a giant debt of gratitude.
In fact, the last week has again demonstrated that Mississippi has the finest pair of U.S. Senators in the country, bar none. And they have both come through in our state's hour of need."
Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741