The $1.7 trillion federal omnibus spending bill includes over $7 million for four projects in Jefferson County, along with $45 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine and additional amounts to various federal projects.

According to a press release from U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), $4 million will go to the Valley Creek Rails to Trails, a recreational trail project for low-income residents.

Some $2 million will contribute to equipment and facility renovations for the Lovelady Center, a faith-based nonprofit which helps female ex-convicts readjust to life after prison.

Another $750,000 will go to the Bethel Baptist Church Family Child Care Center to help construct a community child care and neighborhood center. 

Finally, $500,000 will go to Birmingham Southern College’s (BSC) Krulak Institute, an organization on BSC’s campus that facilitates internships, community service, undergraduate research and study abroad programs. 

The Krulak Institute is named after Gen. Charles Krulak, who served as Birmingham Southern’s president from 2011 to 2016 and helped the college overcome a previous bout of financial struggles. It was launched during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Birmingham Southern is a private Methodist-affiliated college. Earlier this month, the college requested a $37.5 bailout from local, state and federal taxpayers. The bailout has garnered the support of State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestvia Hills) and Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills). 

The college asked for $12.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds as well as $17.5 million from the state education fund. It also requested a $5 million contribution from the Birmingham City Council and $2.5 million from the Jefferson County Commission (JCC).

However, JCC President Jimmie Stephens told 1819 News last week that bailing out a private college could be a “slippery slope.”

The $500,000 in federal funding does not appear due to the university’s financial hardships.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), who will be retiring at the end of this week, gave his support to the bill, earmarking $10.4 million for a new “public service and leadership” institute at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. 

After voting for the Omnibus Bill last week, Shelby vowed several billion dollars for the Birmingham area, including almost $1.3 billion, to programs and organizations associated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Alabama’s other U.S. Senator, Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), voted against the bill and called it a “monstrosity.”

According to the Heritage Institute, the bill will increase the federal deficit by $2.65 trillion over the next decade, further driving inflation.

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