Somewhat unnoticed among the estimated $666.4 million in earmarks, as calculated by CQ Roll Call, secured by outgoing U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) was a line item for $10 million for the University of Alabama.
According to a release from Shelby's office on Thursday, which laid out funding for the various "Alabama Priorities," $10 million was allotted for the University of Alabama "for an institute on public service and leadership, including a scholars program."
The item was noticed by Roll Call's Herb Jackson and Peter Cohn, who also pointed out that more than a year ago, the University of Alabama revealed Shelby would donate his official U.S. Senate papers, records and materials to the university.
"Shelby's total even grew slightly from the earlier round of Senate-introduced bills in July," Jackson and Cohn wrote. "He added $10 million in the final package that wasn't included previously for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to create 'an institute on public service and leadership, including a scholar's program.' Last year, Shelby announced that upon his departure from Washington he planned to donate his official Senate papers, records and materials to the university."
"Shelby's papers would be a 'catalyst for [the] University of Alabama to consider the creation of a new institute and new academic, leadership and scholarly research programs that would provide students, faculty and staff with opportunities to engage with prominent politicians and policy professionals,' school officials said in a release," they added.
According to the Roll Call report, Shelby spokeswoman Blair Taylor said it would be up to the University of Alabama to determine if the new institute would be named for Shelby.
Shelby has taken criticism from all sides during the omnibus budget ordeal. Republican members of the House have blamed Shelby for the likely passage of the massive $1.7 trillion spending package during the lame-duck session of Congress right before the GOP is set to assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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