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Home   /   Capitol Connection   /   Capitol Connection 05/09/2005

Appropriations Season Begins

The House began its annual appropriations process last week – the way in which the federal government provides funding for all kinds of programs, from bullet-proof armor for troops serving in Iraq to disaster assistance for hurricane-hit regions like ours.

As Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I was privileged to present the first of the ten annual appropriations bills for consideration last Wednesday. The Fiscal Year 2006 Interior bill I presented recommends cutting spending by $800 million versus last year’s enacted level, reflecting my commitment to reducing the federal deficit and eliminating wasteful government programs. Even with this overall reduction, however, we are fulfilling our promise to protect America’s vital natural resources by: increasing funds for the operation of our national parks (including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway) by $71 million; enhancing wild land firefighting efforts by $120 million; and, increasing support for new environmental technologies and Superfund cleanup efforts by $32 million. I was also proud to include a $3 million increase in the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides financial support to counties in which federal land ownership has diminished property tax bases – an issue of great concern for many WNC counties.

The FY06 Interior Appropriations bill was reported out of subcommittee by voice vote, and will now be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee. As the appropriations process continues, please be assured that I will continue to support vital WNC programs while reining in federal spending.

2005 Summer Page Selected

I am pleased to announce the selection of Andrew Arnold of Asheville as a summer House Page for the United States House of Representatives. Andrew, a junior at A.C. Reynolds High School, is one of 104 students nationwide selected for the honor. He is the son of Michelle and Stephen Arnold of Asheville. Andrew will serve as a House Page during the second summer session from July 11 until July 29, 2005. Only a select few of our finest young citizens are chosen to serve as Congressional pages, and I would like to congratulate Andrew for being selected for this prestigious honor.

2005 Artistic Discovery Competition

I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s 11th Congressional District Art Contest for high school students.

The first place winner is Amber Harrelson-Williams. Amber is a junior at Asheville High School. Amber’s art work will be displayed for one year in a corridor of the United States Capitol Building, which showcases the winners of over 300 Congressional district art contest from around the nation. She received $500 and a $3,000 per year scholarship to attend the Savannah School of Art and Design.

The second place winner is Jennifer Oakley, who is a 10th grader at Andrews High School. Jennifer’s art work will be displayed for one year in my congressional office. She received a $200 prize.

Third place went to Caleb Joseph Erickson, a senior at Brevard high School. His art work will also be displayed for one year in my office. He received a $100 prize.

Congratulations to each of these competition winners!