Panel to Probe Handling of Foreign Aid for Katrina

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Senate homeland security committee plans to hold hearings this summer on the Bush administration's handling of offers of foreign aid after Hurricane Katrina, senators said yesterday.

Of $854 million offered after the storm -- in cash and oil that was to be sold for cash -- only $44 million has gone to disaster victims or reconstruction so far.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that most of the money went uncollected, or the offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups.

Some spending has been delayed by restrictions on the money's use.

The administration also did not accept offers of supplies from around the world.

"We will get to the bottom of how this Administration could so foolishly turn away an outstretched hand in a time of such desperate need," Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on disaster recovery, said in a statement.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the full committee, said he is "disheartened" that so much aid appears not to have reached storm victims. "We need a full accounting of how these funds were spent and why so few people were helped," he said.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company