Sen. Landrieu's Bill That Never Was

Have you heard about the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill? Probably not — because it doesn’t exist. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.)’s official web site last week announced: "President Vetoes Gulf Coast Recovery Bill,” effectively leading citizens to believe such a bill ever existed. The bill she was relabeling was the supplemental war appropriation bill that Landrieu and her senate porkpals had larded up pretty thoroughly.

Landrieu said, "By vetoing this bill, the President is working against what he promised for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in his famous 2005 Jackson Square speech following Hurricane Katrina.” On Landrieus’s main web page, beneath the large headline, is a graphic of an official-looking document with the words “Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery” written on it and large, red “veto” stamp covering the print.

“She’s inventing a bill,” said John Randall, press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). “She is intentionally misleading her constituents by saying the President vetoed a bill that never existed.”

The bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non-emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror,” said President Bush in his remarks following the veto. 

According to the Democratic Policy Committee, $6.9 of the $124.2 billion would have been allocated for victims of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Gulf Coast recovery is no doubt an important task of the federal government, but, “Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits — and not as part of an emergency funding bill for our troops,” said Bush.

Adam Sharp, press secretary for Landrieu’s office said the wording on the web site wasn’t deceptive at all because, in a statement opposing the bill, the Administration said the hurricane funding attached was excessive.  “The bill, for our constituents, holds the key to a lot of elements for our recovery,” Sharp told HUMAN EVENTS. “So in terms of the red tape…and what many of our constituents are facing…it is a hurricane recovery bill.”

But it isn’t and saying it is doesn’t make it so. Sharp said most politicians do not refer to the bill by its official title either and because Landrieu did not call it the “Gulf Coast Recovery Bill,” her mischaracterization of it was fine.

An analysis of the vetoed bill by the Heritage Foundation explained the bill was holding troop funding “hostage to special-interest spending that evaded budget rules,” when what Congress should do is “send the President a clean appropriations bill that simply funds the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq…”  

By using the hurricane headline, Landrieu’s takes the supplemental bill completely out of context, and  spins the veto so hard, the unavoidable question is why the national media don’t call her on it. Sharp said, “For many of the challenges along the Gulf Coast, this is the bill that holds the key…it is a hurricane recovery bill.”  Sen. Landrieu might be reminded of this incident when next she accuses the president or any Republican of playing politics with the war.