HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A new analysis by the political publication “Roll Call’ found that Alabama fell from the top spot in the U.S. Senate for budget earmarks in the fiscal 2024 budget, about $350 million less than a year ago.
Longtime Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby is credited with decades of bringing money back to the home state. In his last year in the Senate before retirement, Roll Call found Shelby secured the top spot for Senate earmarks for the fiscal year 2023.
The top spot for 2024 is held by Maine, Roll Call found. That state’s senior Senator Susan Collins replaced Shelby as the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.
Alabama’s two U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt are both in their first term in the Senate, and Britt just took office in January.
Alabama had $352 million less in earmarks for fiscal 2024 and seniority in Congress is clearly important, but Alabama’s new and relatively new Senators still managed to finish seventh on the overall Senate earmarks list, Roll Call said.
Britt ranks 99th in Senate seniority, but secured the ninth largest earmark total in the Senate — $232 million, her spokesperson told News 19. Tuberville, who did not pursue earmarks a year ago, secured $95 million for fiscal 2024, according to his spokesperson.
The Alabama Senate earmarks totaled $327 million. But without Shelby, it is a more challenging environment. Alabama wound up near the bottom on the per capita spending change year over year, Roll Call said.
Jay Town, News 19 political analyst, said Alabama’s success in securing federal dollars helped fuel the booming Huntsville defense and technology economy. He said it will take the full Alabama delegation, building alliances, to help ensure that success continues.
“We see that Alabama and Oklahoma in the earmarks this year, they are 49th and 50th, of the states. Well Richard Shelby and (Oklahoma U.S. Sen.) Jim Inhofe both retired,” Town said. “And so, we have two very junior senators. They did a fantastic job to just have our decrease be around 4.5%. So you really have to recreate Richard Shelby in the aggregate.”
Town said that takes work across the entire congressional delegation
“By doing that you have to develop relationships with the entire delegation, that’s all seven congressmen,” he said, “That’s both senators and really you’ve got start developing relationships with senators and appropriators outside the state of Alabama, who maybe have an interest in what goes on here.”
Britt’s office released a statement concerning the earmarks process:
“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. 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.Senator Katie Britt
In this year’s Appropriations process, I was proud to work with local officials from across Alabama to identify key opportunities for needed investments and secure funding while being responsible and accountable with taxpayer dollars. We were able to achieve significant wins for Alabamians while getting back to regular order and restoring transparency to the process. Moving forward, I will continue to fight to put hardworking Alabama families first and ensure Alabamians’ money is strategically, prudently invested in our state’s strength, growth, and future.”
Britt’s office also pointed to a number of improvements in North Alabama set to be funded by the earmarks:
- $5.6 million for an Airfield Fire and Rescue Station on Redstone Arsenal
- $2.6 million for Helen Keller Hospital to procure two emergency generators.
- $2.5 million for Huntsville Hospital Health System to procure 10 ambulances for EMS in Lauderdale, Colbert, Morgan, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Blount, Jackson, and DeKalb counties.
A spokesperson for Senator Tuberville told News 19 that the senator submitted over 100 funding requests for Alabama.
“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.”