Early test for new congresswoman
Just a month into her first term, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda faces a stern test of her abilities to deliver to her 2nd District constituents.
Last week, the House of Representatives stripped earmarks out of a spending bill that funds about one-sixth of the federal budget. Included in those earmarks were $68 million for a Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth and $300 million for housing and other improvements to accommodate the expansion of troops at Fort Riley.
Boyda, whose district includes both military installations, voted with the Democratic majority in favor of the legislation stripping the funding.
She explained her vote this way to The Associated Press, "The money that had been earmarked is going back to the Department of Defense and they will make the best decisions possible. I feel very, very certain that Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth will be taken care of. They are at the center of the war on terror."
The legislation now goes to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to debate it before Feb. 15. How the Senate will treat the earmarks is not known, though the chamber's Democratic leaders also want the earmarks tossed.
If the funding bill becomes law, Boyda will be in a position to help ensure the Pentagon ultimately does deliver the funds to the Kansas installations as originally intended. She is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees Department of Defense spending. In addition, she's a member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, which is responsible for military readiness, training, maintenance and construction.
There is no guarantee, however, the Department of Defense will include all of the funding originally intended for forts Leavenworth and Riley. The combined sum of the earmarks for those two posts represents a lot of money, improvements and, ultimately, jobs in Boyda's district.
Let's hope the freshman congresswoman is judiciously using her power to ensure the Pentagon's "best decisions possible" take care of the Kansas forts and her constituents.