Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that he “misspoke” when comparing the devastation victims of Hurricane Katrina dealt with in New Orleans to that of victims in New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy on the floor of the Senate on Jan. 4.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter called Reid an “idiot” for making the comparison considering that both storms left a region-altering trail of damage, with Katrina still referred to as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country.
“When we had that devastation from Katrina, we were there within days taking care of Mississippi, Alabama, and especially Louisiana — within days. We are now past two months with the people of New York and New Jersey,” Reid said while assailing Republicans in the House for not passing a Sandy relief bill before adjourning.
He added, “the people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt but nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey.”
Vitter on Monday pointed out that the comparison was off-point, especially considering that New Orleans was underwater for days, leaving many in that city homeless or drowning in floodwaters.
He also said the facts don't bear out any comparison: The National Hurricane Center said Katrina caused 1,833 deaths and $108 billion in damage. Sandy caused 131 deaths and $65 billion in damage.
"Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents," Vitter said in a statement. "Both Katrina and Sandy were horribly destructive storms that caused real human misery. And by most any measure, Katrina was our worst natural disaster in history."
Reid on Monday released a statement that he misspoke on the floor of the Senate, and that he continues to work with both senators from Louisiana, naming Sen. Mary Landrieu specifically, to help residents of the Gulf Coast recover.
"In my recent comments criticizing House Republicans for threatening to betray Congress' tradition of providing aid to disaster victims in a timely fashion regardless of region, I simply misspoke," Reid said in a statement.
"I am proud to have been an advocate for disaster victims in the face of Republican foot-dragging, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, from fires in the west to tornadoes in the Midwest. I have worked hard with Senator Landrieu to ensure that the people of the Gulf Coast have the resources they need to fully recover, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf until the region is fully recovered."
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