Friday, April 23, 2010

Hurrah!! David Vitter Takes On Sen Dorgan on the Corp

Hurrah for Vitter!!!

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., got in a heated and unusual exchange on the Senate floor Thursday with a North Dakota Democrat complaining about Vitter’s hold on the promotion of a general with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Sen. Byron Dorgan reminded Vitter that Congress has allocated $14 billion for corps work in Louisiana, indicating Vitter should instead show gratitude.
“My friend is fast wearing out his welcome,” said Dorgan, who kept pointing his finger at Vitter. “My friend might want to learn the words thank you, thank you to this chamber.”

Vitter refused to back down, saying that his hold on the promotion of Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh to major general was warranted because the corps has failed to move on critical Louisiana flood control projects and has repeatedly failed to meet report deadlines.

“I’m disappointed my distinguished colleague is continuing to blindly, in my opinion, be a fierce defender of a bureaucracy that is clearly broken,” Vitter said.
Vitter has had a hold on Walsh, a 30-year Army veteran, for six months, outlining nine issues that he said the corps has failed to address.

The agency has failed to form a coastal Louisiana ecosystem and protection and restoration task force and the Louisiana Water Resources Council, an independent agency approved by Congress to review corps projects in the state, Vitter said.

The corps has failed to do a risk-study analysis on the outflow canals where the failure led to 80 percent of the damage from Katrina, Vitter said.

The corps has also failed to move on creating the Morganza-to-the-Gulf storm protection system for Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, a project that has been approved by Congress three times since 1992, he said.

“Senator Dorgan is anxious for that promotion for the pristine corps leadership,” Vitter said.
“Well, I’m anxious for this important work to protect Louisiana citizens.”
Dorgan noted that it was not his custom to criticize another senator on the floor.
Dorgan accused Vitter of using Walsh as a pawn.

“Let me say I don’t dislike my colleague from Louisiana,” Dorgan said. “I intensely dislike what he is doing.”

Vitter retorted that he has thanked Congress repeatedly for its help, but chided Dorgan for casually noting that the corps makes mistakes.

“I do disagree with the senator in sort of lightly tripping over as a minor mistake design flaws that caused 80 percent of the catastrophic flooding of the city of New Orleans,” Vitter said.
Vitter has no intention of backing down on the matter, noting that Walsh is one of the corps’ top nine leaders, he said.
“I will continue to fight to fundamentally change that bureaucracy,” Vitter said.

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