Seven month scorecard
Congressman Jo Bonner
With the House of Representatives now in adjournment for the month of August, the halls of Congress have become much quieter as my colleagues and I have returned to our districts for a month-long work period.
Although we've gotten quite a bit accomplished in the first seven months of this year, I for one am glad to have this opportunity to get back to south Alabama. While the news would portray things to the contrary, the folks in Washington don't have every answer to every problem. As such, it's always good to get back and meet with the families who are directly affected by our actions in the nation's capital and who in many cases can provide some common sense suggestions on how to deal with many of the problems facing us today.
As I mentioned in this column earlier in the year, I was pleased with the fact that Congress had worked to lay some strong building blocks that would ultimately make the 108th Congress both productive and results-oriented. In the months since that time, we have done just that and have added to those building blocks. I would like to take a few moments in this week's column to address some of the work we have completed.
Many legislative items completed
Undoubtedly one of the most significant accomplishments of the House to this point has been the sizeable number of appropriations bills that have been completed. When the House adjourned several days ago for the August work period, we had passed 11 of the 13 spending measures for FY 2004.
By comparison, only five of the appropriations bills had been passed by this same time last year.
I certainly think that, regardless of the differences that may exist between members on both sides of the aisle during the debate on these bills, the overwhelming votes for passage of each of these spending measures demonstrates a willingness to get the ball rolling on funding the government for the next fiscal year.
These appropriations bills are extremely important; however, they are only a small part of the legislation passed by the House prior to the end of July. Earlier in the year, I discussed passage of a $78.5 billion wartime supplemental measure, the FY 2004 budget resolution, the Social Security Protection Act and a National Amber Alert system.
Following our return to Washington following the Memorial Day work period, we have passed many other important measures. This extensive list includes the following accomplishments:
– Passage of the Jobs and Growth Act of 2003. This $350 billion measure, which has been signed into law by President Bush, reduces the taxes on capital gains and dividends, accelerates cuts in individual income tax rates, increases small business deductions and provides $20 billion in Medicaid assistance to individual state and local governments.
– Approval of the Prescription Drug and Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which provides an early first step towards providing a solution to the many problems inherent in the Medicare system.
– Passage of a partial birth abortion ban.
– A bill to accelerate refundable child tax credits to low income families. Signed by the president, this measure calls for refund checks to be sent to millions of Americans; in fact, the first shipment of checks has already been sent out by the Department of the Treasury.
– The extension of unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans.
– Passage of a permanent repeal of the so called "death tax."
While these bills mark major successes in the first seven months of the 108th Congress, a great deal of work remains when we return to Washington after Labor Day. And as always, your input and suggestions provide valuable guidance as we debate these important pieces of legislation.
Reminder of upcoming town meetings
Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of my upcoming town meetings in south Alabama. The first series will be held on Tuesday, August 12, 2003, and will be held at the following times and locations:
9-10 a.m. Fort Morgan – Peninsula Golf Club
11 a.m.-Noon Elberta Town Hall
3:30-4:30 p.m. Silverhill Little Hall
Additional reminders of these and other meetings throughout the First District will be issued in the coming weeks to your area newspapers and radio stations. Additionally, I will continue to provide schedule updates on these meetings in future columns.
I certainly hope you will find the location closest to you and come out to meet with my staff and me on this next swing through south Alabama. If you have any questions about these meetings or would like additional information, please don't hesitate to call my Mobile office at 251-690-2811 or 1-800-288-8721.
Call or write whenever we can be of service.