Alabama is set to have over $304 million in “congressional directed spending,” or earmarks, ahead of the U.S. Senate’s fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill being passed.
Most of this can be accredited to junior U.S. Sen. Katie Britt, R-Alabama, who helped secure over $232 million in funding for Alabama initiatives by herself. The other $72 million came from the efforts of the senior U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama. However, Britt was able to accomplish her feat while only being in office since January.
Britt’s total funding amount was also the ninth-highest among all Senate members according to the publication Roll Call. After taking office Britt was placed on the appropriations committee.
“As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I will always use my position to conduct oversight on the federal budget and fight for Alabama’s people, priorities, and values,” Britt said regarding the earmarks. “I firmly believe that our hard-earned tax dollars should be coming home to our communities, rather than being spent by bureaucrats in the Biden Administration to fund projects in New York and California.”
Britt was elected to the seat after Sen. Richard Shelby retired from the position last year. Shelby was the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee and was known for earmarking substantial amounts for Alabama. Britt was also a former long-time aide to Shelby, which could be a reason for her ability to procure the funding she did although she is still in her first year as a senator.
Shelby’s departure was still felt this year as the $304 million total is not even half of the $656 million Shelby secured in his final year. However, Alabama still ranked seventh out of all states regarding congressionally directed spending this year despite the decrease.
There were over five subject areas that Britt secured earmark funds for including Energy and Water, Interior and Transportation/Housing.
The highest amount at $20.6 million is planned to go towards repairing the George W. Andrews Lock and Dam on the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in Houston County. There is also a cumulative total of $14 million for water infrastructure improvements for the cities of Auburn, Vestavia Hills and Lincoln.
The total amount of funds Britt requested for Energy and Water equaled 72.8 million which by itself slightly surpasses Tuberville’s $72 million.
Sean Ross, communications director for Britt, provided APR with a statement on how Britt was successful in obtaining the earmark funding for Alabama projects. Ross cited Britt’s collaboration with local leaders and the senator’s commitment to prioritizing Alabama.
“The collaborative partnership of local and state officials was crucial throughout this year’s appropriations process,” Ross said. “Senator Britt believes that local leaders know their respective communities best, and their involvement is key to ensuring Alabama maximizes our seat at the table on the federal level. Additionally, Senator Britt has been intentional and proactive about building strong relationships with her Senate colleagues that are centered on trust and respect. These relationships help her effectively champion Alabama’s priorities at every turn. Finally, you can’t discount the value of hard work. Senator Britt has worked tirelessly since being sworn into office to ensure our great state is in the best place possible in this process.”
According to News 19, a spokesperson for Tuberville said the senator is committed to fighting for infrastructure projects for Alabama and submitted 110 funding requests.
“This year, Senator Tuberville submitted 110 funding requests for projects in Alabama, including nearly $40 million for our law enforcement agencies,” the spokesperson said. “He remains committed to working hard for the people of Alabama and securing funds for critical infrastructure projects needed to move our state forward.”
Ross also provided a statement in reference to why Britt believes earmark funding is important for all Alabamians.
“Senator Britt believes that zip code should not limit the ability of any Alabamian to live their American Dream,” Ross said. “The congressionally directed spending funding she secured as a member of the Appropriations Committee reflects that goal, spanning Alabama’s rural areas and cities alike. Growing 21st century opportunity in local communities across Alabama will help secure a strong future for all Alabamians.”