U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell today reiterated her support for important issues pending in Congress that are important to Business Council of Alabama members and the state. During a telephone conference call with BCA Governmental Affairs Committee members, Sewell said important issues include continuing the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, transportation and infrastructure funding, programs that advance skills training, final passage of the Keystone XCL pipeline, business tax credits, and a federal budget.
Those issues and others are part of the BCA’s 2014 federal legislative agenda that are frequently addressed by federal legislators during Governmental Affairs Committee conference calls, which are a regular feature of BCA activities during the year.
Sewell, D-Birmingham, was elected to a third term in November and will be part of Alabama’s seven-member House delegation to the 114th Congress in January. The BCA endorsed the reelection bid of Sewell, a strong supporter of economic development that she said is important not only for her Seventh Congressional District but also the entire state of Alabama.
“The BCA continues to be an advocate and a unifying voice and is a relentless catalyst for economic development and business for our state,” said Sewell, the sole Democrat in Alabama’s delegation.
She said the entire delegation meets regularly to advance programs that benefit the state.
“Our common interests are economic development for Alabama,” she said. “All of us win when we bring home the bacon.”
Sewell said she hopes Congress, which is divided politically now but will be controlled by Republicans in January will pass either a continuing budget resolution to keep the government operating beyond Dec. 11, or an omnibus budget bill.
If not, the budget must be passed by the new Congress in 2015, she said. “We kick the can down the road with continuing resolutions, it’s unacceptable, not a way to do business,” she said.
She said she hopes tax extenders including tax credits for research and development and business expense-allowance tax credits will be part of the budget.
Sewell, a former business lawyer who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, also said she will support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that is important to Alabama businesses, especially small businesses. It’s a source of financing for foreign trade.
Sewell attended a September Export-Import Bank luncheon in Birmingham that was co-sponsored by the BCA and the Birmingham Business Alliance. It featured retiring U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, and Export-Import Bank Chairman and President, Fred P. Hochberg.
The BCA and BBA along with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and thousands of other business organizations and businesses urge Congress to fully reauthorize the bank.
Sewell also called on Congress to reauthorize important government-backed terrorism risk insurance. “I think its long-term extension is the kind of certainty businesses are looking for,” she said.
Sewell said the federal highway trust fund will run out of money in 2015 if Congress doesn’t act. “A stable trust fund gives infrastructure and transportation companies certainty,” she said.
Sewell said her No. 1 priority since entering Congress in 2011 has been reducing unemployment in her district. One way to do that is to support skills training and workforce development, she said.
Sewell on Friday, against the wishes of her party and President Obama, voted with the majority to authorize the Keystone XL oil pipeline deal with Canada because it will be a job creator. The Senate was to vote later today on Keystone pipeline legislation.