In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers of all political stripes have used the "political climate suddenly altered by the hurricane to try to advance long-stalled, sometimes controversial initiatives." For example, Texas conservative Rep. Joe L. Barton is once again fighting to open up fragile coastal regions to offshore oil drilling, an idea that languished in Congress earlier this year. "If there is a silver lining [to the disaster], and I’m not saying that there is, but if there is, it may be that our country is beginning to realize how fragile our energy sector is," Barton said. Meanwhile, bills that could improve future disaster relief efforts have died. The Senate rejected a bill authorizing $1.5 billion to improve communications equipment, even though Sen. Bill Frist had said that while in New Orleans, "people could not communicate from one side of that room to the other."
What makes this really a sad story is that it comes as no surprise.