Today Senator John Kerry criticized the Bush Administration for sending up a third Hurricane relief proposal that is out of touch with the needs of the estimated 200,000 small businesses struggling to stay in business or reopen after the disasters.
“This is the White House's third funding request for Hurricane Katrina relief, and all three cheat small businesses and the people who work for them,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “How long will it take before this Administration realizes that the key to the Gulf Coast's recovery is rebuilding the small business economy?”
Two weeks ago, Kerry wrote a letter with Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and David Vitter (R-La.) to the head of the Office of Management and Budget asking the Administration to redirect to small businesses $720 million of the $42 billion sitting idle at FEMA. In this latest Hurricane Katrina funding request, the Administration agreed to redirect some money, but ignored the Senators’ comprehensive solution.
Of the $17 billion redirected from unused Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, the Administration only requested money for the SBA’s disaster loan program. That funding is insufficient to meet the needs of small businesses, which are also clamoring for contracting assistance, SBA counseling, and bridge funding from the states.
Kerry joined Snowe in introducing bipartisan legislation to fund small business assistance programs that have been neglected by the Bush Administration’s Hurricane Katrina requests. The Small Business Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction Act, S.1807, would authorize bridge grants and loans, defer payments on existing small business loans, and increase funding for disaster loans for small businesses in the damaged areas. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Landrieu, Vitter, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jim Talent (R-Mo.). The Senate voted 96-0 to pass a similar version of the bill as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) FY2006 Appropriations Act, which is now in conference.
DES MOINES — In a return trip to Iowa, former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry told a group of women activists it is time to reopen the values debate in America.
During a Sunday morning speech, the Massachusetts senator said it is good that religion has become more of a part of the public dialogue in the country as long as faith translates into action.
“Faith without works is dead,” Kerry said.
Close to 150 people packed a small Asian restaurant in Iowa’s capital city for Kerry’s speech in front of a Democratic women’s group.
Kerry said he has continued to push for some of the things his presidential campaign talked about last year, including the “fundamental notion” that all children should have access to affordable health care.
He said parents should not have to deny their children the best care because they can’t afford it, and took a pointed shot at Republicans on values issues.
“I can’t find anything in any religion anywhere, I certainly cannot find anything in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ, that says you ought to take health care away from poor children or money away from the poorest people in the country to give it to the wealthiest people in the nation,” Kerry said.
Kerry, whose ascension to the party nomination began with a first-place win in the Iowa caucuses last year, said Democrats can’t “sit around and cry in your teacup and lament” about last year’s election results.
He pointed out the Democratic presidential ticket got 10 million more votes than any previous election, but said the party will have to step up its efforts to beat Republicans.
Kerry has not said whether he’ll again seek the Democratic nomination in 2008, but is among several in his party who have begun courting activists in Iowa, which kicks off the nomination contest.
Marti Anderson, who leads the Democratic Activist Women Network, called Kerry’s message Sunday “critical.”
“We’ve got to get back to doing better for everyone together as a community,” she said.
Monica McCarthy, a Creston Democrat who drove an hour to see Kerry, welcomed his call for a values debate.
“I think too many times, that’s something the Republicans use, and I don’t believe they are ‘moral value’ people any more than we are,” McCarthy said. The 60-year-old grandmother and quality engineer for automatic coffee makers, worries whether she’ll have money to retire and is concerned about the struggles of the working poor.
Charlotte Eby can be reached at
(515) 243-0138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.