Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., is seeking Bush administration support for his Louisiana Recovery Corp. bill, and he wants to come to terms with the White House by Jan. 31 so that Congress can pass the bill in early February."Given the critical and timely nature of the problems facing Louisiana citizens, it is my hope to reach an agreement with the Administration by this date," Rep. Baker says in a letter to the president's Katrina coordinator, Donald Powell. The Baker bill (H.R. 4100), approved by the House Financial Services Committee on Dec. 15, would create a new federal agency to finance and oversee the rebuilding of New Orleans and other areas of Louisiana devastated by hurricanes. The LRC could purchase residential and commercial properties and assume mortgages on those properties of up to $500,000. Separately, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said the president is not going to forget the people in Mississippi and Louisiana as he finalizes his agenda for this year, even though the administration wants to stop the growth of government nonsecurity spending. In a speech to the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Card said only half of the 90 million tons of debris created by Hurricane Katrina has been removed, and he indicated that the federal government will continue to assist in the cleanup.

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