The National Journal has an article in its issue this week, “Congressional Chronicle: Inside the Katrina Probes” on the separate investigations in the Senate and the House into the response to Katrina, which provides some of the first hints as to their likely findings.
The key passages:
To gather evidence, the investigators are sifting through hundreds of thousands of documents and interviewing hundreds of officials in Washington and the GulfCoast region. The aides believe that the effort is likely to lead to crucial policy changes on several issues dealing with the government’s response to natural disasters or to a terrorist attack.
“I think it will lead to major legislation,” said Michael Bopp, staff director of Collins’s committee in the Senate. “The role of the Department of Defense is likely to be one of the most significant findings of this investigation.”
The Senate report could contradict the positive media attention surrounding the military’s response to the storm, Bopp said. He added that the report may also recommend reorganizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was widely criticized for its sluggish response in the critical days following the hurricane, and tweaking the law governing FEMA relief assistance, known as the Stafford Act.
House investigators said their report could lend weight to President Bush’s argument for a greater military role in domestic crises. “It will crystallize a lot of issues,” said Larry Halloran, deputy counsel on the House select committee. He suggested that Congress might change the 1878 law prohibiting the military from acting as a domestic police force, to allow the activation of troops early in a crisis.
Sounds like a potential split opinion between the House and the Senate on the DOD’s role in responding to Katrina, and by implication, what their role should be in responding to future incidents. Will be interesting to watch what emerges in the coming months.