But with one week to go in the federal government’s fiscal year, not a cent of that money has arrived, The Associated Press reports.
“At fault: Bureaucracy, disorganization and a lack of urgency,” the news service concluded after interviews with top officials.
The U.S. had sent more than a billion dollars in emergency relief to the shattered nation, but that’s separate from long-term aid that is essential to reconstruction of major facilities.
“There are many lives at stake, and the idea that folks are spending more time finger-pointing than getting this solved is almost unbelievable,” a former U.S. ambassador said.
Reconstruction work has all but stopped, AP found. Just 2 percent of earthquake rubble has been removed, and less than a tenth of 13,000 planned temporary shelters have been built.
An authorization bill to direct how aid would be delivered has been held up by a single senator, Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
He objects to a $5 million appropriation to create the office of a coordinator who would work with USAID in Washington to develop a rebuilding strategy. Coburn contends that the U.S. ambassador to Haiti could do that job.
His objection may be sound, but it’s not worth holding up the entire rebuilding effort.
“It’s just a matter of one phone call and the trucks are out again,” an official of a key aid agency said. “We have contractors ready to continue removing rubble. … It’s just a matter of money.”
In the name of compassion, Congress should get the lead out of its pants.