By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, in a Tupelo Kiwanis Club speech, predicted Friday that the U.S. Senate will pass a budget in 2013, the first time in four years that’s happened, but he said the more difficult job will be reconciling the House version and the Senate version.
Nunnelee, a Tupelo Republican who began his second term last month, also said he expects to work more and harder with his recent appointment to the Budget Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.
Nunnelee also serves on the Appropriations Committee and has been named chairman of a subcommittee with oversight of energy, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, the public utility serving Northeast Mississippi and the First Congressional District.
Nunnelee, who served as Appropriations chairman in the Mississippi Senate before his election in 2010 to the U.S. House, said funding a middle ground was easier in the Legislature than on Capitol Hill, which he described as sharply divided along partisan and ideological lines.
He said recent passage of legislation forbidding payment of congressional salaries unless a budget is passed probably has spurred some movement on some issues.
Nunnelee said cuts in defense spending, required under previously passed legislation and a process caused sequestration, is all but certain. He said he had voted to redirect some of the cuts away from military programs but remains uncertain of the outcome.
Not cutting spending is the more dangerous choice, Nunnelee told club members. He said budget constraints could force discretionary spending under $1 trillion, which gives Congress less leverage on non-entitlement programs and other mandated spending.
In response to a prediction by Kiwanian Josh Abramson, executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport, that Mississippi could end up with only two airports with commercial air service in 10 years (Gulfport and Jackson), Nunnelee said he understands the situation but cannot in conscience vote for any kind of subsidy to help maintain service.