Old and New Issues for 2002
With each new year come new opportunities. Among the most important of those is the opportunity to sustain, and even build on, the successes of the first session of the 107th Congress; to further our work on the important issues affecting all of our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.
There are so many important issues before us, it is difficult to narrow them down to a select few. I can say, however, that a number of items important in the past are no less important today.
As I write this, I am continuing my work on the Ten Commandments Defense Act. This bill will allow individual States the power to decide whether to display the Ten Commandments on or within publicly-owned buildings. This bill does not mandate that the items be displayed at any particular place or time, nor does it even compel the States to display them in any way. It is simply returning to the states the crucial choices involved in this issue. This legislation will allow States the freedom to make a decision allowing religious expression.
One of the issues that is of deep concern to me is the fight to protect the unborn. Of particular importance on that front is my opposition to the Partial Birth Abortion procedure. Partial Birth Abortion is one of the most barbaric procedures of today’s “civilized” society. I co-sponsored the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (H.R. 3660) which the House of Representatives passed on April 5, 2000, by a margin of 287-141. I believe Congress should move on this issue quickly since the President will sign the legislation to ban this procedure.
The Fourth District is a sprawling one -- indeed one of the state’s largest districts geographiclly. Proper rural development is essential to both our economy and our very way of life. I will continue my active role on the Rural Congressional Caucus, a bi-partisan coalition of Congressional Members dedicated to strengthening America’s rural areas.
Of course, a key element of that is Rural Healthcare. Areas like the Fourth District are dynamic; so effective healthcare in areas like ours must meet unique needs. I will continue to work to improve rural healthcare. In some cases, that means improving transportation to and from medical centers. Sometimes, it may mean improving the reimbursement rates used when insurance companies and the federal government deal with Alabama’s medical facilities. These are just a few of the healthcare issues in which I am determined to have the Fourth District’s voice heard.
Also, a prescription drug plan for the nation’s seniors is needed. Our Nation became great by virtue of the sacrifices of the generation that safely saw us through the Great Depression and the Second World War. It is time to give this generation greater access to the newer and more effective medical care that our generation has developed in recent years. The President has called for a comprehensive prescription drug benefit in the Medicare Program. As I continue to work with my colleagues in Congress on the details of a comprehensive prescription drug plan, you can be certain that I will keep your support for this important benefit in mind.
Economic issues that affect our communities are often deeply rooted in trade issues. Ours is a hard-working manufacturing community, and as such, I will continue to work to promote trade agreements that fairly treat our honest, hardworking men and women. I recently voted against so-called ‘Fast Track’ legislation because I feel it is not in the best interest of our district. While I support free trade, I could not be convinced that this legislation will create jobs for North Alabama.
International relations hit home this past spring. The horrors of September 11th illustrate a difficult point for us all: we are all vulnerable to terrorism – even here in the United States. We used to think we were invincible. I commend President Bush for taking action on this front on many levels. Most notably, efforts to strengthen our country’s borders, and an overall strengthening of our airline travel system. All the while, we have maintained a strong presence fighting the war on terrorism, wherever it takes us.
I am confident that these issues are important to you – but our work does not end there. I look forward to working with both you, and my colleagues, to address these and other issues in the coming session.
As always, feel free to contact my office should you have any questions or should we be of any assistance. For timely matters, I would encourage the use of email and fax. Heightened security measures have slowed the delivery of mail to our Washington office. However, we will be sure to respond as soon as we receive your letters. I look forward to keeping you updated on these important matters, and I look forward to hearing from you.