House makes an important fiscal call
Last week, the House of Representatives took an important step in the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2005. Thursday afternoon, it passed H.Con.Res. 393, a concurrent resolution which establishes the budget levels for the coming fiscal year.
The budget process actually began in February, when President Bush sent his budget request to Capitol Hill for consideration. For several weeks after that, my colleagues on the Budget Committee and I examined the president's request and conducted hearings with many high-ranking administration officials regarding the needs of individual government agencies.
At the conclusion of hearings, a version of the budget was drafted which was then passed by both the committee and the full House.
The budget resolution passed by the House (as well as a similar measure passed by the Senate) does not actually become law, but it must be adopted in some form by both bodies. Additionally, it establishes an overall ceiling on the funding that will be available for the organizations and related programs under the jurisdiction of the thirteen appropriations subcommittees.
In this year's resolution, Chairman Jim Nussle of Iowa and the members of the Budget Committee established some important goals to increase the level of fiscal responsibility in Washington and to bring a deficit that is growing well out of control back into line.
Some of the provisions included in the final budget resolution are:
Additionally, members of the Budget Committee have directed five House committees (including Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce) to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in areas under their jurisdiction.
Finally, the committee also passed the Spending Control Act of 2004, which mandates that any increased entitlement spending through 2009 must be offset by reductions in other spending. These increases cannot be paid for by increases in taxes.
Of course, it is early in the process, and many aspects of the FY 2005 budget may be altered in the coming weeks as the needs of the government are debated and considered. However, I am proud of the responsible action we on the Budget Committee have taken in setting the parameters for debate in the coming weeks. Chairman Nussle should be highly commended for his even-handed but determined approach to the budget resolution and for his leadership on this important issue.
As the process continues in the coming weeks, I will keep you informed and let you know how the First District and the state of Alabama will be impacted by the appropriations process.
Town meetings scheduled for April
I am pleased to announce that my staff and I have scheduled an upcoming series of town meetings during the first week of April. These meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, April 6, Wednesday, April 7, and Thursday, April 8.
Coming back to south Alabama from our nation's capital gives me the opportunity to hear directly from my constituents their thoughts on the news coming out of Washington.
During the sixty town meetings held in all six counties of the First District last year, hundreds of people took the opportunity to come out and share their opinions, their questions, and their concerns on many of the issues that will directly affect them and their families.
I look forward to an equally successful series of meetings this year and hope each of you will take the opportunity to find the meeting closest to your home and come out to visit with my staff and me.