Apparently, it's fine for the GOP to show a basic lack of compassion and decency towards the survivors of Katrina... you just can't call them on it.
One of the more onerous strings on federal Katrina Relief money is that they are subject to the Stafford Act: local communities must find 10% in matching funds before they see a dime of the federal grants. The act was designed to prevent fraud in small scale-disasters, but it's frequently waived in large ones: it was waived for NY after 9/11 and waived for Florida after Hurricane Andrew.
It hasn't been waived for Louisiana or Mississippi, so one of the "workarounds" the locals have come up with is using their community block grants for those much-needed matching funds.
The Republicans would like to stop that, and last week, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia tried to amend the low-income housing aid package to make it so. Rep. Gene Taylor rose to speak against the move... and got banned for his trouble.
Here's what Taylor said that got him a "time out":
First, let me tell the gentleman from Georgia that I appreciate him trying to save some money. I think his efforts though are a year late.
If you want to look for Katrina fraud, look for the Katrina fraud that was perpetrated by the Bush administration.
In south Mississippi at one point we had 40,000 people living in FEMA trailers, we're grateful for every one of them. But those trailers were delivered by a friend of the president by the name of Riley Bechtel, a major contributor to Bush administration. He got $16,000 to haul a trailer the last 70 miles from Fergus, MS down to the Gulf Coast , hook it up to a garden hose, hook it up to a sewer tap, and plug it in, $16,000. So the gentleman never came to the floor once last year to talk about that fraud.
But now little towns like Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, that have no tax base because their stores were destroyed in the storm, a county like Hancock County, where 90% of the residents lost everything, or at least substantial damage to their home, he wants to punish Bay St. Louis, he wants to punish Waveland, he wants to punish Pass Christian for mistakes of the Bush administration.
Mr. Price, I wish you'd have the decency, if you're going to do that to the people of south Mississippi, that maybe you ought to come visit south Mississippi, and see what has happened, before you hold them to a standard you would never hold your own people to, and that you fail to hold the Bush administration to..
Under House rules, questioning Price's "decency" was enough to get Taylor banned. Taylor later apologized for using the "d"-word, but through a spokeman, he made it clear he wasn't apologizing for anything else:
"This is somebody with no idea what he's talking about, who hasn't visited Waveland, Mississippi," she said, referring to a town in Rep. Taylor's district. "He doesn't know that no one is living there, the City of Waveland has no tax base, they can't rely on regular police patrols, they're using volunteer firefighters, and there is no way for parts of south Mississippi to rebuild unless they're able to use community development block grants."
Taylor was reinstated by the House later in the day... and the aid package passed without the Price amendment. And the GOP are still jerks.