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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Barking Up the Right Bill

Posted By on Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 10:08 PM

Blue Dog or no Blue Dog, Congressman Charlie Melancon says he supports the Senate version of the emergency supplemental bill. Melancon is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 47 moderate –to- conservative congressional Democrats who are concerned with balancing the federal budget.

A recent AP story stated that the group was in favor of cutting $73 million from the emergency supplemental bill, which is to be used for housing vouchers for disabled, homeless residents in the Gulf Coast. Melancon disputes this and says the majority of his fellow Blue Dogs are in favor of the voucher program.

"Most of the Blue Dogs support rebuilding New Orleans under the supplemental bill," Melancon says.

There are two versions — a Senate bill and a House bill — of the $212 billion emergency supplemental bill, which primarily funds the war in Iraq. Both bills contain $5.8 billion in hurricane protection for the New Orleans area, but the Senate version includes items the House doesn’t allow for including:

  • $73 million in housing vouchers for the region’s homeless and disabled residents
  • $350 million for hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi
  • $75 million to accelerate the closing of MR-GO
  • $50 million for the Louisiana’s criminal justice needs
  • $60 mill for Mississippi River dredging

Another big difference between the two bills is that the Senate version allows the state to pay its share ($1.3 billion in the Senate bill) over the course of 30 years while the House version expects the state’s cost-share payment ($1.5 billion in the House bill) in just three years.

The House is expected to vote on the Senate bill sometime next week.

In case you’d like to let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ( know how you feel about these two competing bills, you could always call her: 1-202-225-4965.


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