Alabama Rep. Byrne talks the future of health care and the recent budget deal
CHICKASAW — After meeting with constituents at his 106th town hall this week, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) spoke with Yellowhammer News about a number of issues facing Congress, beginning with health care.
“I don’t think we’re done with health care,” Byrne said. “We repealed the individual mandate and we passed tax reform, but I think we’ve got a lot of other things we need to do.”
The congressman fielded at least one question from a constituent about the recent budget deal, which he voted for. Conservatives criticized Republicans in Congress for passing the deal because it significantly increased the deficit and debt, something they voted firmly against under President Barrack Obama.
Only two Republican members of Alabama’s Congressional delegation voted against the budget — U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer of the Birmingham area and Mo Brooks of Huntsville.
“I had great concerns,” Byrne said. “Gary Palmer and I had the same concerns, and he fell one way, I fell the other.”
The problem, he explained, was the U.S. Senate.
“Essentially when you have a Republican Senate that requires 60 votes and you’ve got to get a deal with the Democrats, you’re going to end up with bad deals,” he said. “In order for us to get the money we needed to adequately fund our military, we had to agree with a bad deal with the Democrats.”
Pressed on whether he voted for a bad deal, Byrne made a distinction.
“It’s a good deal for defense. It’s a bad deal for domestic discretionary,” he said.
Ultimately, Byrne said it was appeals from the administration that quelled his deficit concerns.
“Yes, talking to (White House Chief of Staff) Kelly and talking to Secretary Mattis convinced me that on balance, the better decision was to make sure that we protected America first,” he said.
Asked what he thinks is the most important piece of legislation passed during this session, Byrne didn’t equivocate — the National Defense Authorization Act.
“It was in that act that we turned America back around to making the appropriate choices to defend the country,” he said. “And we did it in such a way to where we actually went beyond what the president wanted us to do, but we knew it was the right thing to do.”
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