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Slaughter Pressures House Leadership for Independent Katrina Investigation

By Jill Morrison

Washington, DC – Democratic Western New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is trying to get around the Republican majority in the US House in probing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Congresswoman Slaughter's calling for an independent commission to investigate what happened with the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina. She filed a discharge petition that would force the House to consider the move.

"We do not believe that the party that controls the entire government, including the judiciary can investigate itself," Slaughter said. "I don't think the public believes they can either."

A House-Select Committee to investigate Katrina was formed last week. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to name members to the committee. She says a Republican-led committee won't ask the tough questions. And the minority party should have the power to subpoena witnesses. Slaughter agrees with Pelosi.

"Have we accepted so much that the majority rules that they can run rough-shot over the rest of us even when it's really close numbers?" Slaughter asked. "Have we really reached that stage? I sure hope not."

Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia Chairs the Republican-led investigation. He says Democrats are missing the opportunity to question witnesses like former FEMA Director Michael Brown. Davis does not plan to stop his investigation.

"The reality is we have to continue. The Congress on a bipartisan vote mandated this committee," Davis said. "You can still have an independent investigation, but we need to move ahead."

Congressman Davis says he still welcomes democrats who want to join his committee of their own free will. So far only lawmakers from affected areas have broken with the Democratic Party leadership.