Mikulski Joins Democratic Senators to Introduce Katrina Emergency Relief Plan

"The response of the federal government to this natural disaster has itself been a complete disaster."

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) joined a group of Democratic Senators to introduce legislation today to provide emergency aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Under the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the comprehensive Democratic package offers immediate assistance to enable the victims of Hurricane Katrina to obtain the health care coverage, housing, education and financial assistance needed in this time of crisis.

"The response of the federal government to this natural disaster has itself been a complete disaster. A failure to effectively respond to hurricane victims resulted in too many tragedies for families and communities. All I can say to the victims of this terrible tragedy is that we're sorry that we weren't ready. We're sorry that the response was so weak. But now we want to make sure that the recovery is strong," said Senator Mikulski. "Words and thanks and prayers are not enough. Action is necessary. That's why I am proud to stand with my Senate colleagues to introduce this important legislation."

The Democratic Katrina Emergency Relief Plan provides the critical medical coverage, housing, education and financial assistance needed to assist the Gulf Coast Victims.

Key elements of the bill include:

Providing Medical coverage:

- Provide Katrina survivors with health coverage through Medicaid wherever they are now;
- Ease enrollment in states' Medicaid programs and provide services to survivors without regard to assets or income;
- Guarantee full federal funding for Medicaid for survivors in new states; and
- Provide full federal funding for Medicaid programs in directly-affected states.

Housing for the homeless:

- Provide emergency housing vouchers for evacuees;
- Expedite applications procedures so evacuees can find housing;
- Provide time for Survivors to find work before tenant contributions are required; and
- Identify federal facilities to house victims.

Keeping kids in the classroom:

- Award $2,500 grants per student and other assistance to school districts receiving displaced students; and
- Provide temporary assistance to early childhood education programs and agencies receiving displaced children.

Helping Americans get back on their feet:

- Give the victims a moratorium of 180 days on any loan payments or other obligations to the federal government;
- Waive any limitations on total assistance to individuals;
- Provide mortgage and rental relief to protect Americans from foreclosure or eviction;
- Ease bankruptcy laws for victims; and
- Extend and expand unemployment insurance for victims.

Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Barak Obama (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

To contact Senator Mikulski, please visit the following page: http://mikulski.senate.gov/contactme/mailform.html

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