Appropriations bill provides benefits for First District
Last week, the House of Representatives finished one of its major jobs for the year by completing work on the appropriations bills for FY 2005.
The House had already completed 12 of the 13 annual appropriations bills, with only the VA-HUD bill awaiting House passage, and the president had signed four into law. However, further work on the remaining eight appropriations measures became bogged down in the Senate.
As a result, Congress was once again confronted with the necessity of rolling the remaining appropriations bills into one "omnibus" measure. Ideally, these 13 individual bills, which fund the operation of the federal government and its related agencies for the coming year, are passed by both houses of Congress by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In fact, this is the second year in a row that the inaction in the Senate has left us with no alternative but passing this single, comprehensive bill.
The omnibus process is far from perfect, but I am confident that Congress has met its dual obligation of both, providing a sufficient level of funding for our constituents and our nation while at the same time maintain ing a strong level of fiscal responsibility.
While I am disappointed that the appropriations process did not proceed under regular order, I am glad it has been brought to a conclusion. Passage of the omnibus bill, while delayed, will provide some significant benefits for south Alabama.
All of the projects which were ultimately included in the appropriations measure are the result of a tremendous degree of work and cooperation among the members of the Alabama congressional delegation and the representatives of the many organizations seeking funding. And as you can see from this partial list, some very worthy projects are being funded in 2005:
I don't think anyone can dispute the importance of these projects. I am proud that these and many other items included in the appropriations bill provide vital funding for a wide range of economic, educational, healthcare, and environmental projects in the First District.
Certainly, the University of South Alabama and its medical facilities are fast becoming one of the premier treatment and research centers in the country. The funding for USA and for the Mobile Infirmary will ensure that the families in south Alabama will continue to have access to the most effective and state-of-the-art medical treatment options available in our region.
In the coming months, the House will begin looking at the appropriations bills for FY 2006. I look forward to working to ensure that the First District continues to receive funding for vital and worthy projects.
Tribute to a fine first lady
Everyone throughout Alabama was saddened to learn last week of the death of former First Lady Helen Hunt. This lovely woman, the wife of former Gov. Guy Hunt, passed away in Cullman with her husband and family at her bedside.
A native of Cullman County, Mrs. Hunt brought grace to the governor's mansion in Montgomery and was extremely devoted to her family throughout her entire life. Despite her husband's success and the family's prominent position in Alabama's political world, Mrs. Hunt never lost her ability to do the little things which endeared her to so many.
As has often been told, she spent much of her time sewing many of the clothes worn by her family, and was very fond of cooking meals for the many large gatherings her family enjoyed. Even Republican governors from other states who came to Alabama for their national conference couldn't help but admire this remarkable woman, who took the time out of her busy schedule as First Lady to make jars of homemade jelly to present to each of them.
In an era where the spouses of public figures often draw as much attention as those to whom they are married, Helen Hunt maintained a quiet strength and dignity which won her countless friends and admirers. Alabama has lost a true southern lady, and the Hunt family has lost an exceptional wife, mother, and grandmother. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this difficult time.
My staff and I work for the people of south Alabama. Let us know when we can be of service.
Jo Bonner respreseents the First District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County, in the U.S. House of Representatives.