Emergency supplemental appropriations bill

Published 11:45 pm Monday, March 20, 2006

By By Jo Bonner
Last week by a vote of 348-71, the House passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (H.R. 4939).
This legislation will help fund our national security priorities as well as provide additional assistance for those across the Gulf Coast recovering from the devastating hurricanes that swept our nation last year.
Also last week, the United States military announced it launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since 2003-Operation Swarmer.
More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops conducted a combined air and ground assault in the southern Salah Ad Din province of Iraq.
Initial reports indicated that a number of enemy caches were captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-making materials, and military uniforms. This latest military operation underscores the importance of the emergency supplemental bill.
This bill ensures that our troops will continue to have the tools they need for missions such as this. We must remain committed to supporting our troops, winning the war on terror, and defending our nation from every threat, both at home and abroad.
The emergency supplemental continues our commitment by providing an additional $67.6 billion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Among other things, the supplemental appropriations bill will fund priorities such as armored humvees and tracked vehicles for our troops; the procurement and development of countermeasures to prevent Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) attacks on our troops; training and equipment for Iraqi and Afghani security forces; and increased oversight of war expenditures.
The supplemental appropriations bill also provides needed funding for disaster relief efforts throughout the Gulf Coast, which continue to rebuild. It provides $9.55 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund, while requiring FEMA to provide better reporting of the expenditures of disaster assistance funds as well as the specific methods used to allocate the funds. This is an important step towards ensuring that we have done everything we can in order to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, and I am pleased that Congress provided this funding.
Hurricane Tax Relief Workshop
Representatives of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be hosting a workshop on hurricane tax relief.
This seminar will be held at the Government Plaza building in Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday, March 22, 2006, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The workshop is free and open to the public.
I am extremely pleased the IRS and HUD have agreed to host this important workshop in the First District. I am hopeful that individuals and businesses in south Alabama will take this opportunity to learn more about these tax incentives.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 on September 23, 2005, providing temporary tax breaks to individuals and businesses who were victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, Congress passed the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act in December 2005, creating a variety of tax incentives aimed at encouraging businesses to rebuild, expand, or relocate to the Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act also extends many of the tax relief provisions of the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act to those affected by Hurricanes Rita and Wilma.
The workshop will provide clarification on both pieces of legislation as well as additional information on the tax incentives for the Gulf Coast region.
Tax Reform
With tax day, April 15, just around the corner, I believe strongly that we must make major reforms to our current income tax system.
Simply put, the American workers and families are overtaxed. I have consistently opposed measures to increase this tax burden and believe we must instead provide tax relief and drastic tax reform.
Last week after careful review and at the urging of hundreds of my constituents, I cosponsored the Fair Tax Act, which is legislation that would repeal all corporate and individual income taxes, employment taxes, and estate and gift taxes and replace these taxes with a national sales tax.
This is an exciting proposal, and I look forward to the future debates of this legislation on the House floor.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 66 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us .

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