• 61°

Sen. Cochran: Congress united on nation’s safety

Almost all issues in Washington have been overshadowed by theSept. 11 attacks, but members of both parties remain committed toovercoming the challenge to the country’s safety, U.S. Sen. ThadCochran said Wednesday.

“It’s been a very unusual and unanticipated responsibility theadministration has faced after the attacks,” the Republican Cochransaid while speaking to a joint meeting of the Brookhaven Noon Lionsand Kiwanis Clubs.

Cochran said President Bush has been decisive in his actions andhas received the full support of Congress.

“We are off to an excellent start in overcoming the challenge toour safety,” Cochran said.

Cochran said Bush and his advisors have been confident andreasonable in dealing with security issues. With that “seriousnessof purpose” and “clarity of vision,” the senator said there hasbeen very little criticism of actions following the attacks.

“Our Congress is united in support of the President,” Cochransaid.

Cochran said the U.S. will overcome the challenge withcooperation and assistance from like-minded countries.

“We’re going to win this war…” Cochran said. “We’re not goingto stop until it’s done.”

Prior to the terrorist attacks, Cochran said the Bushadministration had been off to a good start in promoting andwinning approval for his agenda. There was a bump when Vermont Sen.Jim Jeffords switched from the Republican party to an independent,costing the GOP control of the Senate.

“The balance of power shifted abruptly and unexpectedly in theSenate,” Cochran said.

Nevertheless, Cochran said the administration has succeeded ingetting much of Bush’s agenda passed. The senator disagreed withthose who would take a “cheap shot” in saying the Bush tax cut planhas hurt the economy.

“If anything, the tax cut has helped the economy, not hurt it,”Cochran said, adding there remains some serious disagreements oneconomic stimulus legislation.

Cochran praised a cooperative spirit that earlier this week sawBush sign a new education bill. He said the bill provides for moreeducation decisions at the local level and comes with fewer federalstrings attached.

The bill was a positive step forward and an improvement overpast policies, Cochran said, and reflects Bush’s priorities alongwith input from Congress.

“I think it’s a good blueprint for education programs in ournation,” Cochran said.

Currently, Cochran said congressmen are working on budgetmatters and working to not overspend.

“There has to be discipline in spending areas,” Cochransaid.

Cochran mentioned a farm bill, which he said over promised andoverspent, that was defeated in the Senate along party lines. Thesenator expected the bill would be reviewed, reworked and passedlater.

Cochran touted several Brookhaven projects that have receivedfederal funding in recent years. Those include the new NationalGuard armory, a proposed intermodal transportation facility and therenovation of the Whitworth College campus for the MississippiSchool of the Arts.

Following his civic club speech, Cochran received an update onarts school efforts.

School officials said they have received a good response fromlocal and state officials regarding the school and sought thesenator’s help in securing federal funding or grants for historicpreservation and other school-related needs.

“I’ll do everything I can to help you get funding for theseprograms and projects,” Cochran said.

Cochran has also been instrumental in securing $2 million for aproposed city intermodal transportation facility. The senatorquestioned progress of that facility during a meeting later withchamber of commerce officials.

Chandler Russ, chamber executive vice-president, said there hadbeen some questions raised about the on-going costs of the proposedfacility and the level of precedence it has taken while the city isalso pursuing annexation and related waste water treatment facilityimprovements. Russ stressed, though, that the chamber was notopposed to the facility, and he appreciated the funding that hasbeen received so far.

“We hope whatever funding we’ve started to see will continuealong that line,” Russ said.

Chamber officials also sought the senator’s assistance withchamber building renovation plans and a new industrial park.

“That’s the pressing issue we have before us as an economicdevelopment group,” said Kenny Goza, Industrial DevelopmentFoundation chairman, about a new park.