* Mr. SCALISE. Madam Speaker, on Thursday, October 15, 2009, I was unable to cast votes in Congress due to my attendance at President Barack Obama's visit in New Orleans to discuss Hurricane Katrina related recovery issues.
* It is critical that President Obama stand firm by his commitment to rebuild the Gulf Coast from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. There are several top priorities for which I personally requested the President's direct assistance including his explicit support for Category 5 hurricane protection, including strengthening our levees, improving our interior drainage protection, and rebuilding our eroding coastline. Category 5 protection is vital to the safety of Louisiana's families and to the full recovery of our region. The Corps of Engineers must make a full commitment to move forward with the safest and strongest plan to provide our communities with comprehensive flood and storm protection, and the President's support of the Louisiana Congressional delegation's efforts to achieve this goal is critical to our successful recovery. Coastal restoration is an essential component of our flood protection efforts, as Louisiana loses about 25 square miles of coastline each year. These wetlands provide a natural buffer to protect us from storm surge, and without them, the potential for loss of life and property damage increases significantly with each approaching storm. It is important that the Administration and Congress work together expeditiously to make significant investments in coastal restoration efforts.
* While much has been done since Katrina to help restore the region, bureaucratic red tape remains a major hurdle to a successful recovery and continues to slow down our recovery and impair the abilities of our State and local governments to serve our citizens and respond to future disasters. If we have learned anything since Hurricane Katrina, it is that we cannot allow the same approach that failed us during Katrina to be followed again. FEMA must continue to work with our Congressional delegation and officials in Louisiana to expedite our recovery. During the town hall meeting, President Obama was asked to resolve the delays in our recovery, particularly with regard to Public Assistance projects and Community Disaster Loans, and to ensure that other states and communities do not have to face these challenges with future disasters.
* There are too many lives and too much taxpayer money at stake to get it wrong again. I hope we will be able to continue discussing these efforts in the future and that this and future visits will help the President understand the very serious issues we are still facing.