The iconic federal courthouse building in downtown Tuscaloosa will soon bear the name of US Senator Richard Shelby thanks to a line in the omnibus spending package signed by President Joe Biden last month.

The President signed the bill on March 16th, which combined 12 different spending bills and allocates a staggering $1.5 trillion to various government initiatives.

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Locally, the omnibus bill will send more than $140 million to Tuscaloosa through funding of initiatives and programs at the University of Alabama, Shelby said in a press release.

Those disbursements include the following:

  • $50 million for the University of Alabama for a permanent endowment fund to support the recruitment and retention of exceptional faculty in science and engineering.

  • $37 million to support staffing and operations at the National Water Center, which is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

  • $20 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute that will assist NOAA and the NWC in addressing the nation’s growing water-related challenges.

  • $12 million for the Coastal Inlet Research Program, which supports collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa to address coastal resilience needs, measure coastal forces, and improve terrestrial and coastal modeling.

  • Provides funding to the U.S. Geological Survey to support the new USGS Hydrological Instrumentation facility, which will be located at the University of Alabama:

    • $13.5 million to support integrated water prediction operations;

    • $4 million to assist in future hydrological research and operational efforts;

    • $4.5 million for university partnerships for innovative water resource technologies.

The bill also included a single line of text that will rename the federal courthouse downtown.

"The Federal building and courthouse located at 2005 University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, shall be known and designated as the 'Richard Shelby Federal Building and Courthouse'," the portion of the bill reads.

According to the New York Times, the omnibus spending bill was the first in a decade to allow earmarks for projects in the home districts of members of Congress, and Shelby has long been known for his unparalleled ability to bring federal dollars back home to Alabama.

That knack for securing funding locally was on display again in March. NYT data shows Shelby personally requested and obtained earmarks worth more than $551 million in the omnibus bill, far more than any other Senator in office.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham came in a distant second place with $361 million in earmarks and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer placed third, securing $314 million in the package.

It was not immediately clear when the name change will take place or if it will be reflected on the exterior of the 127,000-square-foot building that was completed and first opened in 2011.

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