Daily photo by Gary Lloyd|
U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, and Pres. George W. Bush leave Air Force One on the way to Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.
Cramer, Sessions seek aid from Bush
By Eric Fleischauer
The most important result from President Bush’s visit to Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant on Thursday may have nothing to do with nuclear power and everything to do with drought.
U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, and Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, all joined Bush on the flight to Huntsville on Air Force One.
Cramer said the three used the time to bend Bush’s ear on the severity of North Alabama’s drought and the need for a disaster declaration.
Bush was listening.
“I understand you’re dry here,” Bush said, during his speech. “The senator and the congressmen are working hard on me about the drought you’ve got here.”
A declaration of disaster from the president triggers an array of possible assistance, including grants and federally backed loans.
Cramer said the discussion of drought on Air Force One fit perfectly into continued discussion of the issue in the motorcade from Huntsville to Browns Ferry.
“In the car on the way over here, we were pointing out pockets of problems. We were explaining how severe this is for area farmers,” Cramer said. “We explained this is not just a cyclical thing. This is the worst drought we’ve had in 118 years. This is a front-row disaster.”
Cramer said the Alabama delegation got more of Bush’s attention on the drought issue than they ever could in a trip to the White House.
“It was a good way for us to bring it to his undivided attention,” Cramer said.
“I’ve never before gotten so many calls from so many farmers who are in desperate financial shape.”
Gov. Bob Riley requested a disaster declaration earlier this month. He requested it for 19 counties: Morgan, Limestone, Lawrence, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Walker, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Madison, Marshall and Winston.
Cramer left the president in Huntsville. Sessions and Bonner continued on to Mobile where the president headlined a $1,000 plate fundraiser for Sessions.
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