Capitol Hill

Responding to Katrina

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wrought a humanitarian crisis of a magnitude unseen in the U.S. since the Great Depression. And it was obvious from the outset our government was ill-prepared for a catastrophe on the order of Katrina, let alone devastating back-to-back hurricanes. But by now, measures have been put in place to help in the recovery process.

Plugging the hole

By the time the federal government is finished, there will have been multiple rounds of relief. At press time, Congress is shifting its focus from immediate relief needs to structuring a comprehensive recovery package that incorporates initiatives for taxes, bonds and spending.

Congress has appropriated more than $62 billion in two emergency spending bills to fund immediate requirements. The first package totaled $10.5 billion. The second, providing $51.8 billion, was the largest nonwar supplemental spending package in U.S. history.