Democratic congressional leaders announced today at a press conference that they intended “to boycott a proposed Republican-led congressional committee to investigate the administration’s readiness and response to the storm.”
“I do not believe that the committee proposed by Speaker Hastert and Senator Frist is in the best interest of the American people,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Both he and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said they would not appoint members to the panel as currently contemplated.
The developments unfolded as the Labor Department reported that an estimated 10,000 workers who lost their jobs because of the storm filed for unemployment benefits last week, the first wave of what likely will be hundreds of thousands of such claims.
“There’s a pattern in this administration of denying information, particularly to requests of Democrats,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. If the committee is going to come from Congress, he said, “it must have a capability for both the majority and minortity to obtain documents and have subpoena power.”
Pelosi called that “the partisan proposal. … House Democrats will not participate in a sham that is just the latest example of congressional Republicans being the foxes guarding the president’s hen house.”
UPDATE: Press release from Nancy Pelosi – Independent Commission, Not Partisan Committee, Is Necessary to Investigate Response to Hurricane Katrina