Returning early from the August recess, the Senate approved the supplemental spending package late in the evening of Sept. 1 and the House cleared it the following day.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) said, "The destruction that has overtaken New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will require months, and even years, of intense effort to recover and rebuild. It will take nothing less than a domestic Marshall Plan to rebuild new roads, utilities, homes and businesses."

Lawmakers made no changes in the amount that the White House requested. Of the total, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive $10 billion. The Office of Management and Budget says the FEMA funds will go for shelter, food and emergency medical care, "emergency protective measures," removing debris and other "urgent response activities" carried out by the range of federal agencies working on the relief program. In its Sept. 1 submission to Congress, OMB said, "This request ensures that federal disaster response and relief efforts will continue uninterrupted while more detailed damage assessments are completed."

Lewis said that at the beginning of the week FEMA had $2.6 billion in its Disaster Relief Fund and $1.5 billion in its Flood Insurance Fund, and OMB estimated that what FEMA was spending from those funds was running at $500 million to $750 million a day. The other $500 million in the supplemental measure will go to the Defense Dept. to help pay for evacuation, emergency repairs, deploying military personnel and other hurricane relief work.

Worth Hager, president of the National Waterways Conference, notes that the package doesn't include funds for Corps of Engineers repairs of New Orleans levees. She said money for those repairs will have to be transferred from other Corps projects. Hager said her group hopes Congress will act swiftly to approve an additional bill providing funds for the Corps. "We estimate the Corps will need upwards of $2 billion," she said.

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he Senate and House have moved quickly to pass a $10.5-billion emergency aid package to help pay for the initial relief work in New Orleans and the other Gulf Coast areas hammered by Hurricane Katrina. The funding is expected to be only the first installment of a much larger amount of federal aid to help the region recover.