Alexander, Corker Back Omnibus Spending Bill

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) said the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which the Senate passed Tuesday, "includes funding for the military and its veterans, border security, drought relief, dam infrastructure repair, national park improvements and other projects vital to Tennessee."

“The most important thing is that, except for true emergency spending, this bill meets the President’s budget number and funds the troops in the field,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It also provides funding for critical Tennessee priorities throughout the state, including dollars for supercomputing research in East Tennessee, Wolf Creek and Center Hill dam repairs in Middle Tennessee and funding for gang and violent crime fighting activities in West Tennessee.”

“I ultimately supported this bill because it provides essential resources for our military men and women on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and at home, drought relief for farmers in our state, funding for the basic services Tennesseans and Americans depend upon, and I am pleased that because of the pressure that was applied, the price tag of the bill was cut by $22 billion,” said Corker.

However, Alexander and Corker said the omnibus bill, which combines the 11 remaining appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government in fiscal year 2008, "highlights the need for major budget reforms to help Congress restrain federal spending, reduce the deficit and gain control of the federal budget process."

“The bill has too many earmarks and gimmicks,” Alexander said. “We need to change the way we do business in Washington and cut wasteful spending.”

“This is not the way the Senate should do business, and we must do better,” said Corker. “Voting for this bill was a difficult decision because it contains too many earmarks and was assembled without the serious deliberation and public review it deserves.”

Sens. Alexander and Corker said they support legislation that includes the following budgetary reforms:

1. Presidential Line Item Veto – to give the President the ability to cut individual pork barrel projects from congressional spending bills.

2. 2-Year Budgeting – so Congress would pass a two-year budget during the first year and use the second year to take a good look at what federal programs are working and what ones are not – and either fix or stop paying for broken programs.

3. Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action – a bipartisan effort to review all aspects of the government’s long-term financial condition and find solutions to protect critical programs while keeping costs down which would be fast-tracked through Congress and guaranteed an up or down vote.

The omnibus bill meets the President’s budget request except for $3.7 billion in additional funding for veterans’ health and service needs, which is contingent on the President requesting such funding in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 which is due in January, they said. The bill also includes $7.5 billion in emergency spending, which includes funding for border security ($3 billion), drought relief ($600 million), and wildfires ($300 million).

The legislation includes $2 billion for National Park Service operations, a $200 million increase above the previous year’s funding which, in part, funds the President’s Centennial Challenge, an initiative to boost funding to the Park Service and attract investment from the private sector.

In addition, they said the omnibus package contains dollars benefiting each of Tennessee’s grand divisions, including:

East Tennessee- more than $4 million for the Tennessee Air National Guard based in Knoxville, $1.82 million for land acquisition for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, $20.8 million for operations and maintenance of the Tennessee River and $34.6 million to continue design, land acquisition and construction of the new Chickamauga Lock.
Middle Tennessee- more than $107 million to support troops and maintain facilities at Fort Campbell, more than $115 million to operate and maintain existing locks and dams, $634,500 for the Davidson County Mental Health and Drug Courts to meet the needs of the mentally ill in the Nashville-area criminal justice system and $487,000 for a comprehensive math and science teacher training program.
West Tennessee- $2.1 million to fund construction of Interstate 69, more than $11 million for the Tennessee Air National Guard based at Memphis International, and $1.8 million to combat an increase in violent crime and gang activity in the Memphis region.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 76 to 17 to 1.

The omnibus bill now must be approved again by the House before going to the President for his signature.


Fire Causes $30,000 In Damages At Scenic City Concrete

Chattanooga firefighters responded to a reported structure fire shortly after  10 p.m. Thursday  at Scenic City Concrete Pumping, located at 2903 South Orchard Knob Avenue. Captain Donny McMillian with Engine 9 said smoke was visible when the first firefighters arrived. Captain McMillian said the firefighters had to force their way through a locked gate and into ... (click for more)

Lookout Mountain, Ga., Ends With Small Surplus For The Year

City Accountant Paul Johnson told the Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Council on Thursday evening that the city was operating with a small surplus for the year with all assets for the 2014 fiscal year at $6.7 million and the liabilities at $2.4 million.     Mr. Johnson noted the purchase of a new police vehicle and several necessary purchases and improvements ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Bless Cathy & Co.

The secret to the whole thing is not getting caught but somebody at the Toys R Us store in Framingham, Mass., had a camera when Cathy O’Grady was very quietly paying off all the layaway balances at the popular location last week. The picture snaked its way onto social media sites and her friends quickly recognized the area’s most famous “layaway angel.” Then somebody in nearby ... (click for more)

Lewis Leads Silverdale Girls Past Boyd-Buchanan

Thursday   was a day of celebration for the Silverdale Lady Seahawks and junior sharp-shooter Megan Lewis. It took an overtime period, but the home-standing Lady Seahawks pulled out a heart-stopping 45-44 victory over the Lady Bucs in a battle for first place in District 5-A.  Lewis scored the game winner with two seconds to play after scoring her 1,000th point on ... (click for more)

Cleveland Wrestlers Whip Tullahoma, Alcoa

The Cleveland Blue Raiders won a pair of dual meets at Walker Valley Thursday night with a 66-12 romp over Alcoa and a more-competitive 34-28 win over Tullahoma. Walker Valley split with the same two teams, the Mustangs beating Alcoa 42-33 before losing to Tullahoma, 54-18. CLEVELAND 34, TULLAHOMA 28 106 -- Jayce Mullin (C) major dec over Will Moran, 8-0; 113 -- Cody ... (click for more)