Feb 18 2009

Sen. Shelby voices, hears concerns at Lee County meeting

By Katie Stallcup

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) took the opportunity at his annual meeting with Lee County residents to voice his opposition to the $787 billion economic stimulus package the president signed into law Tuesday.

Shelby told approximately 80 residents gathered in the Auburn City Council Chambers Tuesday afternoon that reform of the banking system, not the stimulus, would fix the economic downturn. He did not give specifics on how that reform should be accomplished.

“We could have had a much better stimulus package if we had had more time to read it…” Shelby said.

Residents asked the fourth-term senator questions about topics from illegal immigration — a subject on which he said both Republican and Democratic presidents had been too soft — to concerns about house foreclosures.

Shelby said he wanted to continue to encourage the automotive industry in Alabama and would continue to seek funding for Alabama universities.

A running theme Tuesday night was “you’d better hold on,” a phrase Shelby said after addressing the Democrat-backed stimulus package and a proposal to move the U.S. census from the commerce department to the White House.

Residents occasionally interjected support and applause, and some lined up for photos with him after the hour-long session.