Posted on September 30, 2005

Black Voter Suppression Blamed for Weak Katrina Response

Marc Morano,, Sept. 29

Washington — The Bush administration’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina may be the result of minority votes being suppressed and Democratic candidates losing the last two presidential elections, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus has alleged.

“Watching family members and others cling to rooftops in Hurricane Katrina, I wonder whether or not the absence of attention [to the recovery effort] is attributable to the loss of a vote in 2000 and 2004,” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said.

She added that the government’s hurricane response gave her the feeling of “deja vu,” following the Republican Party’s alleged attempts to undermine the black vote in those two presidential elections.

Lee is not the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to lash out at President Bush and his administration in the aftermath of the killer hurricane that flooded New Orleans and demolished much of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

One day after Lee addressed the CBC convention in Washington, D.C., Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), one of the caucus’ most prominent members, compared President Bush to the notorious Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner and segregationist from the 1960s, Bull Conner.

But it was Jackson Lee, often on the front lines of criticizing the Bush administration, who alleged a link between the electoral controversies of 2000 and 2004 and the weak storm response.

“The pain of disenfranchisement is still very fresh for those African Americans who were shut out of the voting process in 2000. It was a sheer travesty. We know America is smarter and better than that,” said Jackson Lee, whose congressional district in Houston is now home to an estimated 150,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees.