We face problems, but we can solve them

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Tues., Jan. 6, I was sworn into the 111th Congress along with 434 of my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was a very special moment, and I couldn’t help but be humbled by the tremendous trust the people of the 2nd District of Alabama have put in me. I was extremely proud to be an American, and proud to be an Alabamian.

The new Congress begins during trying times for America. Our economy is in recession, and folks across the country and Alabama are worried if their jobs will still be there in a month. A recent jobs report by the U.S. Department of Labor underscores the seriousness of our economic problems. The U.S. economy shed 525,000 jobs in December, which capped the worst year of job loss since the 1940s. Unemployment is now at 7.2 percent, and 3.6 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.

When I campaigned for Congress, I pledged to work with both parties in Congress to find real solutions to problems that ordinary Americans face. This was not just a campaign pledge; these conditions require that we unite and work together. After being sworn in and speaking to my colleagues, I can truly say that the spirit of bi-partisanship is in the air. Now, we have to work to make sure that Congress doesn’t do what it has done in the past and not live up to its promises.

I went to work last week with these promises and challenges at the center of my attention. On the day I was sworn in, I co-sponsored a bill that would prevent Congress from receiving its automatic annual pay raise next year. It is unconscionable for members of Congress to receive a $4,700 annual pay raise when families across the country are struggling. I believe members of Congress are paid too much as it is, and H.R. 156 is a strong, bi-partisan bill that would, at the very least, prevent us from getting paid even more.

I also sponsored my first bill last week. H.R. 361 extends a much needed tax deduction for small businesses. Specifically, it allows businesses to write off a greater amount of certain capital expenses in 2009 and also provides an additional bonus depreciation in the first year those expenses occur.

Finally, passing legislation is only one aspect of a congressman’s job. Constituent outreach is very important to me and will be a top priority for my staff.

My offices in Washington, Montgomery, Dothan, and Opp are open and ready to serve you. If there’s anything my office can do to assist you, don’t hesitate to call my Dothan office at 334-794-9680.