Alabama business sees growth

Published 6:42 am Monday, March 3, 2008

By Staff
While it is no secret that our economy in Alabama is booming in many sectors, the national economic forecast is not as bright. In recent weeks, the headlines have told of rising gas prices, a slumping housing market, and a dollar that is steadily losing its value.
Many in Congress, myself included, are hearing loud and clear from the American people that they're frustrated and concerned about whether their elected leaders are even focused on these issues.
So far this year, however, the Democratic leadership, which sets the House agenda, has chosen not to focus on issues critical to our national security or to improving our national economy.
Almost every day someone from southwest Alabama asks me what Congress is going to do to address these problems. Sadly, I am just as perplexed as so many of you.
In fact, last week the House wrapped up another unproductive legislative week after naming five post offices. Clearly, with so many critical issues facing our country, Congress needs to pay attention.
Last week, oil hit an all-time high of $103 a barrel. And here at home, Mobile saw its highest recorded gas price, $3.16 a gallon, up from $2.30 a gallon this time last year. Prices this high are taking even more of a pinch out of everyone's wallet.
Another area of concern deals with the national housing market, which has slowed considerably. In fact, in a Financial Services subcommittee hearing last week, I heard testimony that this may be the largest slump in the housing market in the past 40 years.
Many of you are also concerned about the U.S. dollar steadily losing value overseas, and yet, sadly, what you're getting in return are hearings on the illegal use of steroids by Major League Baseball players.
The American people see Congress focusing on issues that don't affect their day-to-day lives, all the while ignoring the big issues. These issues deserve - at the very least - the same scrutiny baseball has received by this Congress.
Another area of concern deals with America's national security. Sadly, the House adjourned for yet another week without taking a vote on a critical anti-terror law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Three weeks ago, due to inaction by this Congress, the temporary updates that modernized this 30-year-old legislation were allowed to expire. The update filled gaps and loopholes in the original, dated legislation.
Yet another week has passed, and the House leadership still refuses to bring the bipartisan Senate FISA bill to the House floor for a vote, legislation that has broad support in the House.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has even said, “You're less safe today because we lost some of our ability to monitor.”
Friends, let us not forget we are a nation at war, and by allowing this legislation to expire, the Democratic majority has undermined the ability of our intelligence officials to protect us.
I am hopeful that our leaders in Congress - who set the legislative agenda - will respond very soon.
Jo Bonner represents Alabama's first Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He may be reached at