SENATE MARKS DEATH OF BIN LADEN
|Senator Brian Birdwell was stationed at the Pentagon when it was attacked on September 11. He was one of many Senators who rose today to mark the occasion of the death of Osama Bin Laden.|
(AUSTIN) — On a day when the country is united in celebration over the death of the man responsible for thousands of American deaths, the Texas Senate took time Monday to mark the historic news. President Barack Obama announced late on Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden had died as a result of an American operation against him, sparking jubilation across the nation. "Justice has been done," the President told the American people.
The Texas Senate has its own special connection to the events of September 11. Freshman Senator Brian Birdwell of Granbury, a retired Army Lt. Colonel, was stationed at the Pentagon when it was struck by one of the planes hijacked by the 9/11 terrorists. Birdwell was himself grievously wounded in the attack, and has endured a long recovery with many surgeries to repair the physical damage he suffered that day. Birdwell remembered his colleagues at the Pentagon who were killed in the attack. He went on to say that the death of Bin Laden sends a strong message to those who still wish to do harm to America. "The question isn't whether we as a nation are making our enemies mad. The question is what are we doing to make sure that our enemies learn never to make us mad," he said. "Last nights's operation answered that question."
In committee action Monday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that would close the budget gap in the current 2010-2011 budget. With much of the media's consideration focused on lawmakers as they write the budget for the next biennium, there has been less attention paid to the shortfall remaining in state appropriations for the rest of the current fiscal year. This shortfall led Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to request a five percent across-the-board cut at all state agencies, followed by another request for an additional 2.5 percent cut. The bill passed by the committee Monday would make that money, some $1.3 billion in general revenue, available to cover state costs. It also includes $3.25 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
This money is slated for a variety of expenditures, but a recent cost added to the bill would give the Texas Forest Service an additional $36 million to help offset the cost of fighting the wildfires that raged across the state. The bill also accounts for a $600 million payment to the Permanent School Fund to cover declining property values and $57 million to cover prison healthcare costs. Committee Chairman Steve Ogden said the bill could come before the full Senate for consideration as early as Wednesday.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 3 at 11 a.m.