Amanda Ripley

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Vitter’s Chokehold on FEMA

6th May 2009 posted in General

An update on Sen. Vitter’s hold on FEMA nominee Craig Fugate. On Monday, Vitter, Fugate and the acting director of FEMA met to try to talk it out, but it seems Vitter is not done making his point.

Why does Vitter care so much about Grand Isle? That is the mystery. Grand Isle is a small fishing and recreational community located on a barrier island. A lovely but dangerous place. The kind of place that has been battered by hundreds of storms. The kind of place that will flood again.

Vitter seems to want the federal government to fund a gym, library and firehouse in this area regardless of the risks. That seems irresponsible and reckless. The kind of pork-barrel entitlement thinking that a Republican like Vitter should abhor.

Now I realize that for the residents of Grand Isle and places like it, the equation is not so simple. These are people who have lived there for generations. But the question is, should we expect federal taxpayers to sponsor the rebuilding of a place that is not safe to live in? Does that not doom us to repeat our failures over and over again?

Why not let the locals pay for this kind of development, if it must be done? The state seems to be on its way to doing just that. So it’s unclear why this is the battle Vitter wants to fight… Meanwhile, hurricane season begins in 26 days. And FEMA still has no leader.

By the way, I called Vitter’s press secretary on Monday to learn more about this, but I haven’t heard back yet. In the meantime, his office did release this not-very-helpful statement.