Mary Landrieu

Mary L. Landrieu has been a tireless fighter for Louisiana since she was first elected to the Louisiana state legislature at the age of 23. The first woman from Louisiana elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate in 1996, she is the state�s senior senator, an Appropriations Committee member and has been ranked by the nonpartisan Congress.org as the tenth most effective legislator in the Senate.

With Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, Senator Landrieu co-chairs the Common Ground Coalition, the Senate�s centrist caucus. In March 2008, she was recognized as the Senate�s most moderate member by National Journal magazine, which called her the �ideological center� of the Senate.

In recent years, Senator Landrieu has been the leading voice in Washington for the Gulf Coast recovery effort in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the failures of the federal levee system, securing billions in recovery dollars and working to jumpstart recovery projects. She chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Disaster Recovery Subcommittee, and is committed to reforming the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure the nation�s disaster response arm is speedy and effective the next time a disaster strikes the United States, be it natural or manmade.

The commitment of Louisiana newspapers and broadcasters to their communities in the wake of the hurricanes prompted Senator Landrieu to introduce the Broadcast First Responders Act. The bill ensures that local authorities determine media access to disaster areas, not the federal government, and protects fuel and other supplies from being unduly confiscated from regulated broadcasters providing live disaster-related public information programming. She has also cosponsored a media shield law and sponsored the OPEN Government Act, which provides significant reforms to the Freedom of Information Act and was signed into law in December 2007.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Landrieu is a strong and effective voice for Louisiana, bringing her record of fiscal discipline to a committee that approves more than $300 billion in federal discretionary spending each year. From this seat on what is considered the most powerful panel on Capitol Hill, she fights for Louisiana�s jobs and economic interests and the funding the state needs to rebuild from the 2005 hurricanes.

From her seat on the Energy Committee, Senator Landrieu coauthored landmark legislation that became law in 2006 to increase oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and share the revenues with Louisiana to restore the eroding wetlands along its Gulf Coast.

Senator Landrieu is married to Frank Snellings of Monroe, Louisiana, and has two children.


Let the Sunshine In(Without Charging $209,990)

*See Update at the end of this article.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once remarked that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” As the storm clouds cleared from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that sunlight illuminated many aspects of the failed federal government response to the storms and levee breaks.
 

  • A Freedom of Information Act request by CBS News uncovered the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s prior knowledge of toxic levels of formaldehyde in trailers provided to nearly 150,000 hurricane-affected families.
  • An earlier FOIA request revealed how the Bush Administration turned away nearly a billion dollars of international assistance.
  • Thousands of e-mails illustrating the federal bureaucracy’s incompetence in the days following the catastrophe came to light only after journalists engaged FOIA’s requirements.

But such FOIA requests are met far too infrequently. Flawed decision-making is too often shrouded by an apparent philosophy that “what the public doesn’t know can’t hurt us.”
 
On October 5, 2005, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Mark Schleifstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune filed a FOIA request with FEMA regarding its disaster response operations and planning. Read more

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