Obama, other U.S. senators in New Orleans for Katrina hearing

A protester shouting "Stand up for justice!" interrupted Senator Joseph Lieberman as he opened a congressional hearing Monday morning on the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"It's hard to come back here more than a year after Katrina ... without feeling that emotion," Lieberman said during the hearing by the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "We're here to say that we understand the work is not done, to put it mildly."

The committee was taking testimony from federal, state and local officials.

Senator Barack Obama was among those at the hearing. He was to speak and take part in a tour of the storm-hit city later Monday.

The visit by Obama, who is expected to formally announce his candidacy for president next month, comes about a month after another 2008 presidential contender, former senator John Edwards, started his campaign in New Orleans.

Obama questioned whether the federal government is doing its part to help New Orleans rebuild. He noted plans to raze several low-income housing developments, adding that "I haven't seen concrete plans to meet the long-term housing needs of all the displaced people in New Orleans."

Like Edwards, Obama has been critical of the response by U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration to Katrina, which flooded about 80 percent of New Orleans and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes in Mississippi, reports AP.

During a recent constituent breakfast on Capitol Hill, Obama said many Americans view the government's response to Katrina as an "embarrassment to our country and that we betrayed our own citizens."

The list of scheduled speakers Monday included Donald Powell, President Bush's coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

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