Congress ends 2007 successfully

Published 9:56 pm Monday, December 24, 2007

By Staff
Congress ended the year successfully as we completed the first session of the 110th Congress with a whirlwind of activity. After months of political posturing by the majority, Congress was nearing the end of the year without having passed 11 of the 12 spending bills for the fiscal year that began almost three months ago.
Last week also served as a reminder to the majority party that legislating is not a one-party mission. The White House and congressional Republicans worked to achieve bipartisan solutions to the priorities of the American people - priorities that heretofore had been unresolved by this Congress.
Consider a few examples:
Iraq - Throughout this past year, the Democratic Party has attempted to tie needed funding for our military men and women to arbitrary deadlines undercutting the ability of our troops to accomplish their mission.
As part of the omnibus spending bill passed last week, Congress included $70 billion in funding without strings for Iraq and Afghanistan.
S-CHIP – Congress voted to put politics aside this week and extend the popular State Children's Health Insurance Plan (S-CHIP) until March of 2009.
Approved with a strong bipartisan mandate, the extension ensures full funding of SCHIP through the coming year, and places it safely out of range of the 2008 elections - contrary to the majority's initial plan which would have prompted another reauthorization mere months before a politically charged national election.
The bill passed last week is a step in the right direction, continuing to provide health insurance for poor American children and not adults and illegal immigrants.
Medicare Cuts - Physicians, who care for Medicare patients throughout our country, were facing a stiff reimbursement cut in the New Year. The cut, which would have reduced Medicare payments to doctors by 10 percent, is based on a Medicare cost containment formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).
Though we must keep health care costs under control, implementing the SGR's drastic cuts would have jeopardized many doctors' ability to serve Medicare patients, especially doctors throughout south Alabama.
The frenzied end to this session of Congress was by no means pretty. Much of the legislation passed in the final week was crafted at the last minute. In fact, the omnibus spending bill came in at over 3,500 pages, and many in Congress had less than 24 hours to read this massive bill.
Overall, I am pleased we were able to complete many of these priorities on behalf of the American people; however, there is still much work to be done. American families are feeling the pinch of higher costs of living - record high gas prices, heating costs, health care costs, and education expenses.
I am hopeful we will be able to carry this momentum and spirit of bipartisanship into the New Year for the good our country.
My staff and I work for you.  If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.
Bonner serves in the house of representatives. His website is located at bonner.house.gov.