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|Landrieu pledges push on farm aid|
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu met with approximately 50 local farmers and bankers following the grand opening of the Bryant O. Hammett Conference and Convention Center last week to discuss agricultural woes following Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike.
Landrieu told the gathering that U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) blocked legislation she authored to provide $1.12 billion in immediate help to disaster-impacted American farmers.
Coburn put a procedural "hold" on a bipartisan bill to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and streamline rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast.
"They call him Dr. No," she said of Coburn, "because he's always voting against handing out money. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. In this instance it is bad. And the strange thing about it is that his state would have gotten some money from it."
Landrieu said there is an opportunity for passage in the 'lame duck' session of Congress after the election, and she will work "with Sen. Coburn and all of my colleagues to push these vital bills through."
"There is a time between the election and when Congress meets again when we can do this," Landrieu said. "We can't want to wait until next spring."
When asked by Roger Carter about the chances of a lame duck session, Landrieu said she felt good about it, but they would have a backup plan if that didn't happen.
State Rep. Andy Anders told the crowd that some legislators had no idea how hard Gustav and Ike hit Louisiana.
"When the levees didn't break, the national media went back home," he said. "And when the agricultural community struggles, it has a domino effect on everybody."
Landrieu said U.S. Rep. Thad Cochran of Mississippi supports the bill and advised anyone from Mississippi to contact him. She also said she would talk with the other senator from Oklahoma to talk with Coburn.
"This is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants bill," she said. "This bill was well thought out and crafted and would be a tremendous help to our farmers. There is some money already there. Four million dollars is set aside left from the farm bill. But our state really needs this. I'm committed to getting this bill passed."
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