House and Senate appropriators have agreed to provide $11.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds as part of a $29 billion hurricane disaster assistance package.The CDBG funds would be distributed to states and local governments in the Gulf Coast states to help in rebuilding communities and housing. In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour plans to use a good portion of his state's CDBG funds to help hurricane victims whose homes were destroyed or damaged by flooding. The governor's program is specifically designed to benefit homeowners who lived outside a flood plain and did not have flood insurance. The House has passed the hurricane assistance package as part of a Defense Department spending bill. The bill is pending in the Senate. Meanwhile, Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., expressed disappointment that the appropriators did not include his bill to create a Louisiana Recovery Corp. in the defense bill. "I will not give up," Rep. Baker said. He noted that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has agreed to "assess our plan and develop an appropriate solution." The Baker bill, 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 Hurricane Katrina.

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