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An Update from Washington- The need to pass a budget and POW/MIA license plates now available for Alabama residents


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When I travel across the Second District, I often hear deep worry from my constituents about the direction the federal government has taken over the last 10 years in regards to spending. The same concerns are doubtless being echoed across the country. I believe we can put this concern to rest with an FY2011 budget resolution that contains honest solutions, substantive cuts, and real progress towards a balanced budget and reduced national debt.

Unfortunately, four months have passed since the President submitted his annual budget to Congress and the House has yet to take action on a budget, despite the fact that Congress has done so every year since 1974. I believe Congress must act to write a sensible, fiscally responsible budget resolution, and do so before the August district work period.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to move forward with a budget resolution. I will continue to encourage her and my colleagues- especially those on the Budget Committee- to take up a budget resolution. At the very least, the country would benefit from a thorough debate on fiscal policy, especially during a time in which our country faces massive deficits for the foreseeable future. This will continue to be the case unless we act to change our current fiscal path by enacting a responsible budget.

As you may know, I voted against last year's budget proposal because it increased spending and the deficit at a time when government revenues were at best stagnant, and at worst, on decline. Since then, the House has made some steps towards fiscal responsibility by enacting statutory PAYGO legislation. And recently, the President has signaled his support for a proposal similar to the Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool (BELT) Act, which would give the President authority to recommend line-item spending cuts. Congress would then take an up-or-down vote on those cuts. The BELT Act is part of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition's Blueprint for Fiscal Reform and I'm proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation.

However, we can and must do more. We should identify programs that are ineffective or waste taxpayer funds and eliminate them completely. Furthermore, discretionary spending caps are necessary to control spending. That's why I support legislation that calls for a 2% cut in non-defense and non-veterans related discretionary spending for three years followed by a two year spending freeze. Paired with PAYGO, these caps and cuts would put us on a path to achieve serious deficit reduction.

I believe it is possible for our nation to restore its fiscal health, but we won't get there by passing half measures and simply maintaining current policy, which would be the result of not passing a fiscally responsible budget resolution.

POW/MIA license plates now available for order

The Alabama POW/MIA License Plate is available for pre-order to state residents who own a passenger vehicle or motorcycle. The tag honors U.S. service members who are missing in action or were prisoners of war. 1,000 tags must be pre-ordered between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011 before production can begin. A portion of the tag fee will go to the Alabama Veterans Assistance Fund. You can apply for the Alabama POW/MIA tag through your county license or probate office.

For nearly 40 years, the POW/MIA flag has served as a reminder of those who sacrificed for our freedoms and of our resolve to ensure that all who serve are able to come home. In fact, I proudly display the POW/MIA flag alongside the American and Alabama flags outside of my Washington, DC office. I am very pleased that the POW/MIA symbol will now be available for display on Alabama license plates. For more information about the Alabama POW/MIA tag, visit the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Website at

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our offices in Montgomery at (334) 277-9113, Dothan at (334) 794-9680, Opp at (334) 493-9253, or Ozark at (334) 445-4600. You can also visit the website at to sign up for the e-newsletter. It is my great pleasure to serve you and the entire Second District of Alabama.

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