While I strongly support the increased funding for our military, I could not in good conscience vote for the Omnibus that costs almost $1.3 trillion. The military threats to our national security are real and serious, but so is the fiscal threat to our national security.
— Gary Palmer (@USRepGaryPalmer) March 22, 2018
Sen. Shelby’s ascent to Appropriations chair has Georgians worried over decades-long water war with Alabama, Florida
With Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) departure from the U.S. Senate on April 1, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) is set to become the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
That has some on the Georgia side of the long-running water war over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa, and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins between Florida and Alabama worried Congress will enact legislation to give Alabama an edge according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman.
“The 83-year-old has kept Georgia’s lawyers and congressional delegation in a constant state of paranoia over the past two decades by quietly using government spending bills and other must-pass legislation to aid Alabama’s position in the tri-state water fight,” Hallerman wrote. “Georgia lawmakers have mostly thwarted Shelby’s under-the-radar moves by banding together and going over his head to party leaders. But Shelby’s likely promotion could change the political dynamic on Capitol Hill, where committee chairmen have outsized power to look out for their interests.”
The population explosion of the Atlanta metropolitan area has led to an increased demand for water, which it has met by drawing from the Chattahoochee River. That according to those on the Alabama and Florida side of the issue crying foul given it means less downstream flow from the Chattahoochee. It has especially impacted oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay of Florida.
Hallerman wrote that Shelby has attempted to insert language into government spending legislation for what he has referred to as “equity in the distribution of the water,” but those efforts have been thwarted by Georgia lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
With Shelby’s new role, it may be harder for Georgia’s congressional delegation to continue to resist his efforts, Hallerman explained.
“Ever since a 2015 blowup, the Georgia delegation has been able to contain Shelby’s efforts. But that could all change in the months ahead,” she wrote. “Shelby’s promotion is all but assured in the seniority-focused Senate, and he has backup on Senate Appropriations from Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, since the two states frequently work together on the issue. No Georgia lawmaker sits on that Senate committee.”
Shelby joined the Environment and Public Works Committee in 2017, which is the committee that authorizes projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as laid out by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The Army Corps of Engineers’ activities are traditionally authorized every two years by Congress through the WRDA and are funded annually in appropriations bills, which will give Shelby significant influence.
Neither of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have a seat on the Environment and Public Works or Appropriations committees.
In a statement provided to Yellowhammer News, Shelby urged a solution at the state level, but maintained he would seek to “preserve” Alabama’s interests.
“It is my continued hope that the Alabama, Florida, and Georgia governors will work this out at the state level,” Shelby said. “However, I will carefully consider all options to preserve our state’s interests.”
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Alabama’s Republican Party should pass a resolution celebrating, not censuring, Sen. Shelby
When my wife and I began editing Yellowhammer News four months ago, we promised to always “tell the truth, even when it hurts, and especially when it’s unpopular.”
We wrote that because we believe honesty is a virtue to be constantly pursued, not only in journalism, but also in every profession and aspect of life. And when found, it should be celebrated, not censured, as an alarming 42 percent of the attendees at the recent statewide meeting of the Alabama Republican Party wanted to do.
The group pushed a resolution denouncing Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, for saying he couldn’t support the candidacy of someone who many fair-minded Alabamians believed was credibly accused of having been a serial sexual harasser of young women.
Thankfully, 58 percent of our party’s members at the meeting voted to “indefinitely postpone” consideration of the measure.
But why so much residual anger at someone for simply being honest?
When Shelby was asked about the race shortly before the election, the senator said he “couldn’t vote for Roy Moore” and instead would write-in the name of a “distinguished Republican” on the ballot.
Shelby, like many others (some who only spoke in hushed anonymity or avoided comment altogether), believed in his heart that Moore would have done more harm to Alabama than good. So instead of sheepishly avoiding the question, he answered truthfully and therefore, in doing so with full knowledge of the coming backlash, acted courageously.
Isn’t that what we seek from our elected representatives?
But because Shelby spoke honestly, supporters of the recent failed resolution blame him for Moore’s defeat.
Having a single senator tell the truth wasn’t what sunk Moore’s candidacy. The judge lacked a coherent communication strategy and failed to seriously campaign for the job.
That’s it. Period.
Three quick yet telling examples:
— During the final crucial days of the campaign when Moore should have been busy getting seen by voters in the most populated areas, he chose to only appear at rural churches and a couple of out-of-the-way rallies. (As a contrast, Donald Trump held five rallies a day in key battleground areas in the run up to his victory. That’s how it’s done.)
— Instead of deploying campaign spokesmen to overwhelm local talk radio and television speaking to actual Alabama voters, they were wasted with interviews on national television with the likes of Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper. Why? Their viewers in New York City weren’t voting in our election.
— Yellowhammer News even offered the judge’s campaign as much room on our website as they’d like to make their case, out of fairness since I wrote some pieces critical of Moore. Did they take advantage of that opportunity? No.
Had the judge aggressively campaigned in those final weeks – getting out and talking with voters, speaking directly to them, bypassing the media – he’d have easily made up the 22,000 votes he lost by.
But … if some wish to ignore those hard lessons and give Shelby credit for stopping a runaway train from crashing into the Senate and taking Alabama’s interests down with it, then fine.
For my part, I thank Shelby for having courage and telling “the truth, even when it hurts, and especially when it’s unpopular.”
Shelby swatted away this controversy like an annoying fly. His years of service and leadership have given him the power and influence to do so with ease.
Meanwhile, those of us coming up in our state’s conservative movement should take heart, and take a lesson, from Shelby’s stance.
And keep on telling the truth.
(Image: Senator Richard Shelby/Facebook)
Alabama’s congressional delegation reacts to the shutdown
Late Friday, lawmakers were unable to pass an eleventh-hour effort to thwart a government shutdown, and as the clock struck midnight, “nonessential” federal government activities ceased.
The Senate effort failed by a 50-49 roll call vote and required 60 votes to pass. The legislation would have funded the federal government through February 16.
Both of Alabama’s U.S. Senators, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) and Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), voted for the bill. Jones was one of five Democrats voting in the affirmative, a position he made known earlier in the evening.
JUST IN: Sen. Doug Jones will be voting for the CR, @jonallendc reports.
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 20, 2018
In a statement released early Saturday, Shelby railed against his Democratic colleagues and accused them of “putting partisan politics” ahead of funding the government.
“It is unacceptable that Democrats would vote against a measure to keep our government open to do the work of the American people,” Shelby said. “I do not believe that shutting down the government is a solution to the problems we face as a country. A shutdown is destructive to the American taxpayer, no matter the circumstances. Republicans are working hard to keep the government running, and we also want to approve a long-term reauthorization of CHIP, which provides millions of children with needed health insurance coverage. While a long-term funding measure is preferred, this CR would allow Congress the ability to continue ongoing and proactive negotiations in an effort to approve a bipartisan, bicameral funding bill.”
“Democrats have chosen partisan politics over funding our government, funding our troops, and providing health insurance to low-income children and pregnant women,” he added. “The American people deserve better.”
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who had been very active on Twitter in lead-up and the aftermath of the shutdown deadline, described the Democratic refusal to back the legislation “petty and ridiculous.”
“The so-called ‘resistance’ and Senate Democrats have shut down the entire federal government and put health care for over 85,000 Alabama children at risk over an unrelated illegal immigration issue,” he said. “This is petty and ridiculous, and I call on Senate Democrats to stop with the political games, come back to the negotiating table, and join us in passing a funding bill.”
Shameful. The #SchumerShutdown is now official. Deeply frustrated Senate Democrats have shut down our government over an unrelated illegal immigration issue.
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) January 20, 2018
The #SchumerShutdown is now official. I urge @SenSchumer to stop with the political games, come back to the negotiating table, and get the federal government back open for business. pic.twitter.com/EYLlT795un
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) January 20, 2018
Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) of Alabama’s 2nd congressional district expressed similar disapproval of Senate Democrats.
“While I continue to have serious concerns with short-term funding measures, I still voted in favor of the Continuing Resolution this week in the House because I believe it is critical that we keep the government open and running, especially as it relates to our military and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” Roby said. “I am deeply disappointed that Senate Democrats chose to let the government shut down over an unrelated immigration issue that does not have an immediate deadline.”
“My congressional offices will remain open to serve the needs of those I represent. I will continue working with my colleagues to work towards a solution to properly fund our government,” she added.
The congressman for Alabama’s 3rd congressional district, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), also condemned Democrats for “playing politics.”
“One of the fundamental purposes of our government is to provide for the common defense to protect our liberties,” Rogers said in a statement released early Saturday. “Unfortunately, Democrats chose illegal immigrants over our brave men and women who serve in uniform and forced our government to shut down. Their actions also hurt children across East Alabama and the country that rely on CHIP. Playing politics with those who defend our freedom and the health care of the kids who need it the most is unconscionable to me.”
The lone member of Alabama’s delegation to vote against the continuing resolution was Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). Sewell had made it her intentions known she would oppose the GOP’s efforts on Thursday. In a tweet early Saturday, she deemed the shutdown the “Trump shutdown” and called on Republicans to do their job.
— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) January 20, 2018
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Alabama’s GOP House delegation calls on Senate Democrats to pass CR; Democrat Sen. Doug Jones still undecided
Late Thursday, Alabama’s Republican members of the House of Representatives issued a statement calling on Senate Democrats to allow passage of a continuing resolution that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for six years and fund the federal government through February 16.
The joint statement from Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks) deemed the Democratic obstruction effort “political games.”
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) January 19, 2018
“The House has acted to prevent a government shutdown and provide long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Unfortunately, it seems Senate Democrats are intent on blocking the bill and forcing a government shutdown, all over an unrelated immigration issue. This action would be both irresponsible and reckless. We urge the Senate to stop playing political games, pass this funding bill, and deliver certainty to the over 85,000 Alabama families who depend on the CHIP program to provide for their children’s health care needs.”
Also according to the release, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) will vote in favor of the bill. However, Mobile Fox 10’s Bob Grip says as of 9 p.m. local time Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) remains undecided.
— Bob Grip (@Bob_Grip) January 19, 2018
Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.
Report: Group seeks Alabama Republican Party censure of Richard Shelby
According to a story from Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, a group is seeking a censure resolution from the Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee against Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) for declining to support Roy Moore in last month’s special election against Doug Jones.
Jones defeated Moore by a 1.7 percent margin, nearly 23,000 votes, to become Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator.
NEWS: Roy Moore allies pushing censure + robocall campaign targeting SHELBY. Looking to retaliate https://t.co/FJehf4hkL1
— Alex Isenstadt (@politicoalex) January 13, 2018
“This week, three Moore supporters submitted a resolution to the Alabama Republican Party executive committee calling for Shelby to be censured,” Isenstadt wrote. “It argues that Shelby ‘publicly encouraged Republicans and all voters to write in a candidate instead of voting for the Republican Candidate Judge Roy Moore,’ and that his ‘public speech was then used by the Democrat Candidate in robocalls to sway voters to not vote for Judge Roy Moore.'”
According to Isenstadt, the effort is being financed by Dallas investor Christopher Ekstrom. Isenstadt describes Ekstrom as “a prolific GOP donor who has contributed nearly $300,000 to conservative and anti-establishment causes since 2012, according to federal records.”
Shelby’s decision to publicize his decision not to vote for Moore last month was used by Jones’ campaign in online, radio and TV ads against Moore.
According to the bylaws set by ALGOP’s executive, the rule governing support of candidates is as follows:
“Denying Ballot Access: This Committee reserves the right to deny ballot access to a candidate for public office if in a prior election that person was a Republican office holder and either publicly participated in the primary election of another political party or publicly supported a nominee of another political party. The provisions of this Rule shall apply for a period of six years after such person so participated. (This rule does not include all of the reasons for denying ballot access.)”
Shortly before the election, ALGOP party chairwoman Terry Lathan described Shelby as “a very good and supportive friend to the Alabama Republican Party,” adding that he was “a staunch conservative on issues.”
Richard Shelby on Mitt Romney for U.S. Senate: ‘I hope he will run — I would encourage him to run’
Friday in an interview with The Hill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) encouraged former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, to run for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Shelby told The Hill’s Molly Hooper that Romney would be a good “fit” in the Senate.
“I hope he runs,” Shelby said. “I have a lot of respect for Gov. Romney. I think he would fit in in the Senate. I think he would bring another strong dimension to the Senate and a lot of leadership qualities. So, I hope he will run. I would encourage him to run.”
Watch: Doug Jones – ‘It’s going to be a tug-of-war both ways for my vote’
Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the newly sworn-in Sen. Doug Jones (D-Birmingham) suggested his vote would be up for grabs in the U.S. Senate.
Jones told host Joe Scarborough he was taking a cue from former Alabama U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin in that he would listen and do his best to reflect the mood of Alabama.
“I think that that is critical,” Jones said. “I made a promise during the campaign. I said it yesterday after I was sworn in — that I think the role of the senator, two roles — you got to listen and learn from your constituents, learning what they’re hurting about, what they’re concerned about. And the other part of that is also to try to use your office to educate folks. I’m going to try to do that as much — I don’t want to try to dodge people. I don’t want to run from folks like we’ve seen so much in the last couple of years. I think the only way to be effective is to be out there, to talk to people.”
“And again, we may not agree,” he continued. “We’re not going to agree on everything, but I want to listen to hear those concerns. I think that’s what people are looking for most — somebody that’s going to care about them, listen to their concerns. And they know — I was raised in politics by Senator Howell Heflin from Alabama. He was one of the great leaders, and he did that. He taught me how to listen. He taught me how to reflect Alabama. And that’s what I hope to do. I think it’s going to be a tug-of-war both ways for my vote.”
Jones went on to add the CHIP program and infrastructure as some of his possible early priorities and cited his long-time relationship with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) to work to continue to bring military funding to the state.
Mo Brooks calls one of Moore’s accusers ‘clearly a liar’
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Hunstville) reinforced his support for Roy Moore on Wednesday, challenging the credibility of sexual misconduct allegations against the embattled Senate candidate.
In an interview with Dale Jackson of WVNN, Brooks said he is sticking with Moore because of how questionable the allegations are and how important this Senate seat is for Republicans.
Why this matters: Several major Alabama Republicans have said they believe the allegations or see no reason to disbelieve them, including Governor Kay Ivey, Senator Richard Shelby, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Shelby has said he no longer supports Moore, while Ivey said she will still vote for him. Brooks’ response highlights a significant division among Alabama’s conservative leaders regarding whether the allegations are credible and if they are, what the implications are.
— “What you have is the mainstream, left-wing socialist Democrat news media trying to distort the evidence to cause people to reach the conclusion that Roy Moore engaged in unlawful conduct with a minor, and my analysis of the evidence is that is not the case,” Brooks said.
— “One of (the accusers) is clearly a liar because that one forged the ‘love, Roy Moore’ part of a yearbook in order to try to for whatever reason get at Roy Moore and win this seat for the Democrats, and there’s a lot more to it as to why I believe that the evidence is almost incontrovertible about whether the yearbook was forged,” Brooks said.
Quin Hillyer: GOP should try weird ‘Shelby Strategem’ to resolve Roy Moore mess
Weird messes sometimes require weird remedies.
The Republican Party, state and national, is in a huge, weird mess because of the ongoing situation involving Judge Roy Moore. Because of the nature of the allegations, the timing of the allegations, and the complicated interplay between state law, state party rules, and Senate rules, there is absolutely no good solution for Republicans or, frankly, for Moore.
It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with a manufacturing mistake that put the wrong colors on the wrong squares so that it’s impossible to “solve.”
But after puzzling out numerous options, I think the least bad idea is an ingenious bit of political jiu-jitsu I saw on Twitter. (Alas, it was a ReTweet of a ReTweet, or something like that, and I don’t remember whose idea it was originally, or I would credit him/her.) The short version is that a write-in campaign should be organized… for current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.
What? Come again? The immediate response is to ask how it would help to write in a current senator’s name for an open Senate seat.
Well, I said it was jiu-jitsu.
But, without explaining in detail the rules/law interplay mentioned above, or explaining why all sorts of other suggested options seem to be even worse ideas than this one (please do follow the links to understand at least a bit more about it all), here’s how and why the Shelby idea, at least theoretically, could work in practical application.
The assumption underlying the idea is that it will be nearly impossible for any write-in effort to succeed, but that the only way it can is if there is a consensus write-in candidate who enjoys near-universal name-identification and widespread approval. Frankly, only two people in Alabama fit that bill – and there is no way that one of them, Jeff Sessions, would or should take a demotion back to his old Senate seat from his perch as Attorney General.
That leaves Shelby. And even Shelby couldn’t possibly win a write-in if Moore refuses to suspend his own campaign.
Moore isn’t likely to do so. But let’s just hypothesize that he would. The play could be this: Sessions and President Trump, along maybe with somebody Moore might admire (Franklin Graham, maybe?) could together call Moore and say that even if Moore wins – which is now at least slightly unlikely, and with his odds still dropping rather than rising – he faces so much antipathy in the Senate and such a damaged reputation nationally that his presence in the Senate would absolutely do more harm than good to the cause of a godly republic to which he has devoted his career. The best way to advance his cause is to temporarily disassociate himself from it, and the best way to recover his reputation is if he does so while not in the context of a political campaign or office.
The trio of interlocutors would of course promise to publicly thank Moore for his years of service and remind the public that not just law but simple fairness requires that an accused man with a years-long reputation for personal probity enjoy at least some original benefit of the doubt.
If Moore, miracle of miracles, agrees to publicly withdraw and asks Alabamans not to vote for him despite seeing his name on the ballot, and instead asks voters to write in Shelby’s name, then that would be the only way to avoid splitting the right-leaning vote enough so that Democrat Doug Jones isn’t elected.
Wait!, you say. This still doesn’t explain the Shelby part of it!
How can Alabamans elect somebody to the Senate who already holds the state’s other Senate seat? And why would Shelby do so?
Well, of course he couldn’t hold both seats. The deal would be this: Shelby would publicly announce that if he wins a plurality of the votes in a write-in campaign, he would resign his current Senate seat one minute before the election results are certified, and instead serve out the remainder of the term to which Sessions originally was elected.
That would in turn open up the remainder of Shelby’s current term – which runs through 2022. Governor Kay Ivey could then appoint somebody (other than Luther Strange) to fill the Shelby seat through 2018. The remaining four years of the term would be filled by election during the regularly scheduled federal elections of 2018…for which, if Moore wants, he himself could run.
But Moore would do so only after having time to clear his name, and without in effect holding the state party hostage to the nomination he won before the allegations surfaced. The state party has stood by him, institutionally, for many years, and is doing so still, while under pressure; he could show reciprocity, and earn some sympathy, if he took the party off the hook in this 2017 race and left open his own options for 2018.
(Frankly, it would be better for all if Moore doesn’t run in 2018, but he would be free to do so.)
The person making the biggest sacrifice, of a sort, would be Shelby. In effect, he would be trading away the final two years of the term to which he was elected in 2016.
But how important are those last two years to a man who already is 83 years old and whose decision is merely whether to retire (or run for sure re-election) at age 86 instead of 88? Are those two years’ worth the damage he thinks it will do to his state and nation for either a damaged Moore or a liberal Jones to take what was the Sessions seat? He already has been in Congress since 1978, and on the public payroll in one role or another since 1963. He has served his state and country well – and could serve it even better by trading two last guaranteed years in office, in his late 80s, for the good of his state, party, and country.
So, to recap: 1) Moore withdraws, and endorses Shelby. 2) Shelby says he will accept write-in results if he wins. 3) If write-in is successful, Shelby resigns current seat and assumes the “Sessions” seat. 4) Ivey appoints someone eminently respectable to serve a single year in what was Shelby’s seat. 5) The election for the final four years of what had been Shelby’s term would occur during an already-scheduled November slot, so it would cost the state no more money. 6) The reputation of absolutely everybody involved would rise, because all would be seen as making magnanimous moves for the good of the state.
But nobody, absolutely nobody, could say it is a “dirty trick” (like delaying the current election would be) or of questionable legality (like pretending that if Luther Strange resigns right now, it would allow cancellation of the already-called special election). Instead, it would leave the final choices, at every step, up to the voters of Alabama.
The Shelby Stratagem would be a weird solution, to be sure. But it might just work. It’s worth a try.
Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.
Sen. Shelby Applauds University of Alabama in Huntsville’s $20 Million Science Grant.
Earlier today, Senator Richard Shelby reported that the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Alabama in Huntsville $20 million over five years.
As part of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, UAH seeks to develop technologies for applications ranging from aerospace and manufacturing to food safety, based on low-temperature plasmas. Through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the grand will support fundamental research and education efforts.
Furthermore, the grant will allow UAH to better share resources with other Alabama institutions of higher learning. In turn, this will lead to greater technology development.
Touching on what the grant means for Alabama, Sen. Shelby said,
“This award serves as merited recognition of the great work that is ongoing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. UAH is a nationally recognized institution for its research efforts that benefit students, industry, and the community and will continue to do so in the years to come. Once again, Alabama has set itself apart as a leader in science research and higher education.”
Senator Shelby is known for his continued support of equipping students with the tools they need to succeed. He has helped raise money for numerous university projects across the state, and state of the art engineering buildings at the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama bear his name because of those efforts.
Senate Confirms New U.S Attorney for Alabama’s Norther District
Madison County Senior Prosecutor Jay Town has been confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Northern District.
In his short career, Town has been a driving force in the legal profession. One of his largest accomplishments before his appointment came from his push to streamline Alabama’s death penalty appeals process, which was adopted by the Alabama legislature.
In a statement to WHNT New 19, Town said, “ I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the great people of Alabama as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District. I am grateful for the special trust and confidence shown to me by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, Senator Shelby, and all of those who supported me through this process. I inherit a very capable office and look forward to joining them in doing great things.”
Jay Town has worked for the Madison County District Attorney’s office since 2005. His role as U.S. Attorney General will give him jurisdiction over 31 Alabama counties, including Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Florence, and Scottsboro.
Senator Shelby Weighs In on Transgenders in the Military
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although he wants to see more facts to further evaluate the situation, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) appeared to support the inclusion of all willing people in the U.S. Military during a Wednesday afternoon interview on CNN.
“You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve,” Shelby said on CNN’s Newsroom.
CNN’s questioning stemmed from President Donald Trump’s announcement of a ban on transgender individuals in the U.S. Military. The president made his declaration Wednesday morning in a series of tweets.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Shelby reiterated throughout the several-minute segment that he would like to carefully evaluate the new policy. However, he did note that it appeared to be a shift from traditional U.S. protocol.
“That would be a reversal of the current policy,” Shelby said. “The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You’ve got to remember, our military force is a voluntary force. I’ll have to see what he actually said, read his tweet and go from there.”
Shelby clarified his statements with Yellowhammer, expressing confidence in and deference towards our nation’s military but said that the door should be open for all capable individuals to serve in the armed forces.
“We are a nation at war. I am confident that Secretary Mattis and DoD leadership can and will evaluate current personnel policy that will enable us to recruit, train, and equip an all-volunteer force,” he told Yellowhammer. “Any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet those standards should have the opportunity to do so.”
Alabama Senators Work Hard to Advance Healthcare Vote
The Senate managed to put together a vote on whether or not to debate on Healthcare legislation early Tuesday. With a dramatic entrance from John McCain and Mike Pence casting the tie breaking vote, the Senate can now debate a new healthcare bill on the floor.
Alabama’s delegation wasted no time taking to social media to celebrate the vote. Senator Richard Shelby took to twitter throughout the day to show his support, calling it a “defining moment for the Republican party.” Senator Strange was also pleased with the vote, vowing “to continue to fight for the relief Alabama families deserve.”
The vote went down to the wire as some Republican holdouts, namely Rand Paul, cast their last minute votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump spent most of the week daring Republican senators to renege on their promise to replace Obamacare. In the end, their persistence paid off as the Healthcare bill can now move on to further debate.
Democrats still remain decidedly against the bill, while Republicans claim it will lower premiums and be a better option for the American people. At this point, it is unclear what version of the Healthcare bill senators will be debating, as every version has died in the senate. It is likely that the Leadership will make proposals and amendments that will attempt to get everyone what they want.
Alabama Delegation Staunchly Defends Sessions & Giuliani Says The A.G. Got it Right
With a relationship with the White House that is quickly turning sour, Attorney General Jeff Sessions received strong backing this morning from a longtime ally on Capitol Hill: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
“During the past twenty years that I have served with Jeff Sessions in the Senate, I have had the opportunity to know him well. He is a man of integrity, loyalty, and extraordinary character,” Shelby said in a statement. “I join the people of Alabama in giving him my deep respect and unwavering support.”
Other members of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation have expressed their support for Sessions as well. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2), who has long considered Sessions a mentor, came out vigorously defending his character.
“I know Jeff Sessions to be a man of great character and sound judgment. His decision to recuse himself was the right thing to do, not just for himself, but for the Administration,” She said. “This country needs Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. We have done more to crack down on illegal immigration in the last six months than in the past eight years. We are addressing problems like violent crime and human trafficking. Congress finally has a partner at the Department of Justice who is willing to enforce laws as they are written.”
When it comes to the president, however, the hits just keep on coming. Early this morning, President Donald Trump tweeted two new attacks on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this time criticizing him for being “very weak” on investigations surrounding Hillary Clinton.
Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – “quietly working to boost Clinton.” So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Evidence of Trump’s frustration became public last week when he attacked Sessions in a New York Times interview over the Attorney General’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
“Sessions should have never recused himself. . . And if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair and that’s a mild word.”
The attacks continued on Monday, with Trump taking a jab at the Department of Justice and calling Sessions “beleaguered.”
So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Axios has reported that the president is openly considering the possibility of replacing Sessions with another long-time Trump ally. West Wing sources told the news outlet that Trump is so unhappy with Sessions that he wants to swap him for fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City Mayor strongly supported Trump throughout the 2016 campaign.
Later Monday evening, Giuliani told news outlets he was not being considered for AG and that Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” regarding recusal.
Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, seemingly confirmed that Trump wants Sessions gone in a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt. When asked directly whether or not the president wanted sessions out, Scaramucci replied, “If there’s this level of tension in the relationship that, that’s public, you’re probably right.”
Sessions has been one of Trump’s closest political allies since before Alabama even held its primary. Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump and then served in an advisory capacity for his campaign until his victory. Fox New’s Tucker Carlson recently highlighted this relationship on his primetime program and called for the president to stop attacking “one of the very few” friends he has in Washington.
Despite the whirlwind of pressure, Sessions said late last week that he will continue to serve “as long as that is appropriate.
Democrats and a Few Republicans Force Alabamians to Keep Obamacare—For Now
In a move few would have envisioned in the Republican exuberance of late 2016, the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare never made it to a vote. What remains unclear this afternoon, is whether or not a straight repeal of the health care law is still on the table.
Speaking of the original repeal and replace measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Regretfully, it’s now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”
Expressing his frustration at the measure’s failure, President Trump Tweeted:
“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!
The Republicans he was referring to are Rand Paul (Kentucky), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), and Jerry Moran (Kansas). With those four defections, it was mathematically impossible for the Republicans to get the 51 votes they needed to repeal and replace Obama care.
Despite the fact that Republican defections were the final straw in blocking the measure, the White House made no bones about blaming Democrats. With every single Senate Democrat holding firm to keep the system that’s led to rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes, the White House has made its frustrations clear.
As White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said today,
“They’re responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity…The failure of Obamacare, I think, rests solely on the shoulders of Democrats.”
While the effort to repeal and replace the ACA was unsuccessful, this morning the President and Senate Republican leadership suggested a straight repeal the Obamacare.
As the President Tweeted, “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”
Alabama’s senior Senator, Richard Shelby agreed, stating:
“Americans have experienced soaring healthcare premiums, swelling deductibles, staggering job loss, and unprecedented tax hikes under Obamacare. The Senate’s effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare is no longer a possibility, but I remain committed to repealing this deeply flawed law. The Republican-led Senate is now working on a different approach to bring the American people relief, voting to repeal Obamacare and include a two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care. The Senate passed the same repeal legislation in 2015, and this time, if passed, the President will sign it.
Senator Luther Strange also supports the straight repeal, adding, “There are no two ways about it: Obamacare is failing, and it’s leaving Alabamians with tough choices or no choices at all. Repealing this law has been the Republican promise since day one, and it’s a promise I will fight to deliver.”
The Senate Republican Caucus met at lunchtime today to discuss strategies, but as the afternoon unfolded, it appeared that even a straight repeal may now be in jeopardy because of more defecting Republicans joining the solid block of intractable Democrats. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore West Virginia joined Collins of Maine saying they would not back a straight repeal, which means that vote may also be withdrawn.
Tomorrow will probably tell whether or not the repeal-only idea will also fail, but if it does, one thing is clear, this debate is far from over. As Senator Shelby concluded,
“We cannot give up. The American people deserve a health hcare law that provides more choices and affordable premiums.”
Shelby Visits Port of Mobile as Alabama Creates Jobs and Plays Larger Role in World Trade
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) visited Alabama’s Port of Mobile today, touring the new super post-Panamax cranes. Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons led the tour and brought Senator Shelby up to speed on the ways port’s growth is benefitting the state of Alabama and the Gulf Coast region.
The state’s senior U.S. Senator was duly impressed:
The Port of Mobile is one of the fastest growing harbors in the nation. I am encouraged by the current growth and the future economic development opportunities directly tied to the port. Mobile’s two new cranes, which are the biggest in the world, will allow the port to increase productivity, create jobs, and continue to expand.
As the Senator’s press release noted, the Port of Mobile grew by over 19 percent in container capacity in 2016. With the two new super post-Panamax cranes in place, the Alabama State Port Authority anticipates continued development in the years ahead.
Alabama airport to receive millions for structural improvements
MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile Airport Authority will receive $2.2 million for structural improvements thanks to a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. USDOT’s grant is part of its Airport Improvement Program, which will directly benefit the Mobile Regional Airport in South Alabama.
The distribution of the money is overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, and it is intended to improve the facility’s runway conditions. It will also provide for a new new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle.
The AIP was established in 1982 and is designed to promote safety and efficiency in the nation’s airports. The money for the program comes from taxes levied on airplane tickets and jet fuel.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee noted that improvement of infrastructure can have a corresponding effect on economic development. “Airport infrastructure directly impacts safety and efficiency, as well as economic competitiveness in communities,” Shelby said. “Mobile’s airport will see long-term benefits from this grant funding, which will improve aviation services that are important to businesses and residents of South Alabama.”
Owned and operated by the Mobile Airport Authority, the Mobile Regional Airport serves both pedestrian and military aircraft. Its top domestic non-stop flight destinations include Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Chicago.
Richard and Annette Shelby: Leadership, Love, and Legacy
By Chris Reid
Last Friday, I attended a dinner celebrating Senator Shelby’s 83rd birthday and his thirty years of service in the Senate. Most political dinners can be a little heavy on policy and the politics of the day. However, the reason I enjoyed this one so much was because it was not about Senator Shelby’s politics but about his legacy.
Steve Flowers, a longtime friend of Shelby, said that if you were an aspiring politician, you couldn’t have scripted a better plan than the life Shelby has lived. At the age of 36, Richard Shelby was elected to the Alabama State Senate, where he immediately rose to the highest levels of influence due his brilliant and charismatic leadership. At 43, Shelby served as Congressman for the 7th District, and in 1986, he won a close race to serve in the Senate and has been there ever since.
Many articles I’ve read about him speak to his substantial power and influence. Steve Flowers wrote that he is easily one of the top five most powerful Senators in Washington and that he is one of the few who is widely respected by those in the Democratic Party.
However, Shelby’s rise to power is not what interested me most in his speech that night. It was the story of his wife, Annette, and how blessed Senator Shelby was to have married her. On other occasions, when Senator Shelby spoke of her, it was clear that he believed she was not only the most beautiful woman in the world, but also the smartest. Annette Shelby earned her Ph.D in speech around the time her husband was a state senator. When they moved to Washington in 1979, she began teaching at Georgetown University and became the first tenured female professor at their business school. She distinguished herself in several disciplines, reaching the top of her field in business, communication, and economics. While inspiring young business minds at Georgetown, she was also involved in many philanthropies, benefiting so many in Alabama to this day. She did all this while raising two boys and having to attend countless political events with her husband.
Perhaps even more impressive than their life stories is the love they demonstrated for each other and this state. About a year ago, I was privileged to sit next to Senator Shelby at a luncheon in Birmingham, and I was impressed not merely with his strong grasp of policy, but by the fact that even though he was the most important person at the table, he didn’t spend much time talking about himself. He asked questions of everyone there and enjoyed hearing different points of view. He also seemed to be happy and content. He spoke not only with those at the table but also with those who were serving the meal and treated everyone with respect; his care and concern for everyone around him was evident.
Washington D.C. can be a very corrosive place for families, and sadly it is a rare thing to see a senator stay faithfully married for 57 years. At the age of 83, he gave an excellent speech, discussing the concerns he had for our country but never wavering in his optimism about our future. In the past few years as his wife has struggled with health issues, Senator Shelby has proved to be a loving husband who puts his family’s needs ahead of his own. Many politically ambitious people would love to reach the heights of power that Senator Shelby has obtained, but I hope they realize that his true ongoing legacy is as a husband, father, and friend. Thankfully, Senator Shelby is not going away anytime soon, as he plans to finish his term, which ends in 2022.
Mr. Reid is general practice attorney in Birmingham Alabama. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United State House of Representatives in Washington, DC, and was a health policy advisor to the Governor of Alabama. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 205-913-7406. For more details on Mr. Reid and his practice, visit his website at reidlawalabama.com.
Trump nominates Alabama judge for Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump nominated Birmingham’s Kevin Newsom to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday, making him the latest Alabamian to receive a prestigious appointment from the current administration.
The Eleventh Circuit has jurisdiction over Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and it is currently based in Atlanta, Ga. Of the court’s 12 active judges, four are from the Yellowhammer state. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Newsom will fill the seat of Judge Joel F. Dubina from Montgomery, Ala.
Newsom works as a partner and appellate attorney at the Birmingham firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. Throughout his career, he has argued 35 cases at the federal appellate level and four in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as Alabama’s Solicitor General for three and a half years. Newsom holds a B.A. from Samford University and a J.D. from Harvard University, and he clerked under U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter for two years.
In addition to his normal legal work, the 45 year-old attorney sits on the Board of Overseers of Samford, and he is a member of both the Federalist Society and the American Law Institute.
Alabama’s senators, who will have the opportunity to vote on Newsom, are both excited about the nomination.
“Kevin Newsom is an exceptional choice for this high honor. I am confident that his strong principles will enable him to apply the law in a fair and just manner,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. “President Trump has made the right decision in selecting Kevin to sit on the Eleventh Circuit, and I believe he will prove to be an asset to our nation’s judicial system as a federal judge.”
Junior Senator Luther Strange (R-Ala.) shared in his colleague’s enthusiasm. “It’s exciting to watch Alabama take such a strong role during the Trump presidency, and the President has certainly made the right choice in nominating Kevin Newsom to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals,” he said. “His experience will help bring common sense to the bench and have a positive impact on our judicial system for years to come.”
Trump has taken to placing top Alabama power players into key positions in his administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions served as one of Alabama’s U.S. Senators for 20 years, and one of his top aides, Stephen Miller, also now works closely with the president. He also selected Alabamian Stephen Boyd to be the next Assistant Attorney General. Yellowhammer founder and former CEO Cliff Sims works for the president as the White House’s director of message strategy. Earlier this month, Trump announced his selection of Spencer Bachus, former congressman for Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District, to serve out the remainder of a four-year term on the board of the Export-Import Bank.
Justice Gorsuch: the Alabama Congressional delegation reacts to the court’s return to nine
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a lengthy procedural battle, The U.S. Senate finally confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday by a vote of 54-45. President Donald Trump’s nominee will fill the ninth seat on the court which has been vacated since Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last February.
The Senate’s vote was mostly along party lines. However, three Democrats crossed the aisle to support the confirmation of an eminently qualified judicial nominee.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said “Judge Gorsuch is one of the most qualified nominees that I have seen while serving in the United States Senate. His background, credentials, and commitment to the Constitution speak for themselves.”
Alabama’s junior senator, Luther Strange (R-Ala.), noted that Gorsuch’s selection and confirmation to the Supreme Court came from a direct democratic mandate of the people. “For so many Americans, casting a vote last November for Donald Trump meant restoring faith in the federal judiciary,” Strange said. “Alabamians want a high court that respects and affirms the rule of law, and because of today’s historic vote, that is what they are getting. I was proud to cast my vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch and help the President deliver on this important promise.”
Shelby and Strange’s colleagues across the hill had rave review’s for Gorsuch’s confirmation. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) said that Gorsuch is the perfect replacement for the late Justice Scalia. “I applaud the Senate for confirming him to serve on our nation’s highest court,” Byrne said. “Judge Gorsuch has distinguished himself as a thoughtful and balanced jurist who understands it is not the job of the courts to write laws but rather to interpret the law as written. Our nation will be better off with him on the Supreme Court.”
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2) similarly applauded the confirmation of the latest Supreme Court Justice. “I believe our country will benefit from the new energy and experience that Justice Gorsuch will bring to the bench,” Roby said. “Throughout the confirmation process, Justice Gorsuch proved himself to be a highly capable individual who is supremely qualified for this great responsibility. I believe his stated commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it was written will hasten a long overdue return to the separation of powers and rule of law in this country.”
In addition to supporting the president’s selection, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5) reiterated his support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) use of the nuclear option to break the Democratic filibuster. “I support the Senate’s use of the Democrat Harry Reid precedent to ensure Gorsuch’s confirmation,” Brooks said. “Despite failed partisan attempts and political theater aimed to paint Gorsuch as an ideologue who will rule based on personal beliefs, Gorsuch has consistently demonstrated his commitment and record of ruling on issues before his court based on rational interpretation of the original intent of the Constitution or law, regardless of his personal opinions. I am certain Neil Gorsuch will honor the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia.”
The Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, noted that Gorsuch’s confirmation will help reverse trends of liberal activism on the high court. “As he endured over twenty hours of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch demonstrated his ability to rise above politics and uphold the law of the United States,” API said in a statement. “His record on the bench shows that he will adhere to the law and the Constitution, as a thoughtful and responsible jurist.”
Before his nomination, Gorsuch served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He graduated from undergrad with a degree from Columbia University, and he received his law degree from Harvard. His experience with the nation’s highest court goes back decades, as he clerked under two associate justices: Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Legal scholars agree that Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is in the same vein as Antonin Scalia. Like Scalia, Trump’s nominee is a textualist who interprets the plain meaning of the law. He also believes the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted in the context that it was understood at the time of its adoption. In 2016, he wrote of his judicial philosophy:
Judges should instead strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.
Gorsuch’s nomination is possible due to Republican obstruction of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
New Alabama Senator makes United States history for a surprising reason
Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator, Luther Strange, has only held office on Capitol Hill for a few weeks. That hasn’t stopped him from making history. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches, Sen. Strange is officially the tallest Senator in U.S. history.
He’s taking the distinction in stride.
“It was nice to make history when you haven’t even done anything yet,” Sen. Strange told Roll Call in an interview. ” It was kind of funny because it was a topic of conversation when I met my colleagues. There are a number of tall senators — Tom Cotton, John Thune and [Richard] Shelby all were arguing about who is the tallest senator until I got there.”
He added that, since making his debut on Capitol Hill, he’s even been given a “tall” lectern that used to belong to former Senator. He’s now staying at the apartment of the tallest member of Congress, Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen, who stands at 6 feet 11 inches until he gets an apartment.
“It’s the two tallest guys — the tallest guy in history, plus me. It’s great because his house has got tall everything,” he said.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming previously held the record, standing at 6 feet 7 inches tall. When he heard that his title had been taken from him, he seemed caught off guard.
“What son of a b**** did that?” he jokingly asked a reporter with Roll Call.
After learning more about Sen. Strange, he seemed happy to step aside.
“Oh, Jesus. Well, tell him he’s got me beat hands-down. Not only was I 6 feet 7 inches, but I’m shrinking. Now that I’m 85, I’ve shrunk to 6 feet 5 inches. I’m willing to relinquish that title with great energy and spirit,” Simpson said.
Alabama congressional delegation applauds beginning of Trump Era
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With Donald J. Trump officially sworn-in as the forty-fifth President of the United States, the majority of Alabama’s congressional delegation is eager to work with the new unified Republican government. After successfully stonewalling the majority of former President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, Alabama Republicans are excited to finally have a president they can work with.
“As our 45th President takes office, I look forward to working with him and all of my colleagues to provide leadership for our nation,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). “There are many challenges ahead, and it is time to get to work on behalf of the American people.”
Sen. Shelby will likely be Alabama’s lone Senator for an interim period, as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is expected to be confirmed as Trump’s Attorney General. Sessions was Trump’s biggest early supporter and the first U.S. Senator to officially endorse him.
“Today [Friday] marks the start of a new era for our country,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1). “President Trump outlined a clear vision for our country with a focus on supporting American workers and rebuilding the American dream. We face many serious challenges, but also exciting opportunities. I stand ready to work alongside President Trump and Vice President Pence to turn our country around.”
In a post on her Facebook page, Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2) offered her vote of confidence in the new administration’s ability to accomplish its goals. “I congratulate President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence upon taking the oath of office and offer them my prayers for wisdom and guidance as the new administration takes hold,” she wrote. “There is so much to be done to get our country back on track, and I’m confident Congress and the Trump-Pence Administration will be able to work together to deliver results on behalf of the American people.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5) was adamant that Trump must fulfill his campaign promises that made his campaign so engaging. “President Trump gave a great speech. As President Trump noted, ‘The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action,'” Brooks said. “I eagerly look forward to helping President Trump fulfill his campaign and inauguration speech promises by voting on legislation to repeal ObamaCare, make Mexico pay for an impenetrable border security wall, and restore America’s military and international reputation to greatness.”
Alabama’s most junior member, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL6), offered a more historical take. “This Administration has the opportunity to lead our country with dignity and to uphold the Constitution as our Founding Fathers intended almost 230 years ago. I look forward to working closely with President Trump and his Administration as we Make America Great Again,” he said in a statement. “I was encouraged by President Trump’s commitment to keep his campaign promises, especially in regard to his commitment to American workers and families. I look forward to working with his administration to keep our promises to the American people to get our country back on the right track.”
Shelby and Senate lay groundwork for Obamacare repeal
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate passed a budget reconciliation measure this week allowing for the eventual repeal of Obamacare, moving Republican politicians one step closer to fulfilling their years-long campaign promise.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is optimistic about a likely repeal soon, thanks to the recent legislation and the agenda of the incoming administration. “The American people have entrusted Republicans with a unified government and they demand, expect, and deserve results,” he said. “I am pleased that our first major act in the 115th Congress was to pave the way towards repealing and replacing this failed law with patient-centered health care reforms.”
In Alabama, insurance premiums on the Federal exchange and elsewhere have skyrocketed, hurting the bottom line of thousands of families. According the the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama had to increase rates by an average of 39 percent on individual plans offered through the ObamaCare marketplace. The tremendous increase affected 160,000 Alabamians and 5 percent of BCBS members.
ObamaCare has essentially created an insurance monopoly in the state’s federal insurance exchanges. Because of the law’s stringent regulations limiting the profitability of insurance companies, BCBS is the only individual insurer in the market since Humana and UnitedHealth have decided to leave Alabama.
“The exiting of other insurers from the state is a clear indication of the difficulty in providing ACA health plans at the most affordable price without incurring significant financial losses,” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama wrote in a statement.
But this rate hike was nothing new; it was just the latest occurrence in the new post-ObamaCare reality. In 2016, BCBS hiked rates by an average of 28 percent for individual plans to account for the tremendous losses created by the Federal Government. Because of the ObamaCare marketplace plans, the company lost more than $250 million from 2014 to 2016.
“After more than six years since the enactment of the massive government takeover of health care, there is no doubt that Obamacare is broken beyond repair,” Sen. Shelby said. I have heard from thousands of Alabamians about the harmful impacts of Obamacare on their health care, their family, their job, and their wallet.”
Alabama congressional delegation praises Sessions’ composure during confirmation hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After facing back to back days of brutal questioning from his peers, members of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation are speaking out in favor of their colleague, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is currently in a confirmation battle to become the next Attorney General of the United States.
“While it was a long day of questioning, Senator Sessions was well-prepared and represented the state of Alabama admirably. Throughout today’s hearing, Jeff handled himself with the same humility and patience that has earned him the deep respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. “I am proud to call Jeff Sessions a dear friend and look forward to continuing to give him my unwavering support throughout the nomination process. He is a man of great integrity who will apply the law fairly to all Americans, and I have no doubt that he will be confirmed by the Judiciary Committee as well as the full Senate.”
Yesterday, the liberal members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attacked Sessions record as both a Senator and as Alabama’s Attorney General. Senators Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) confronted their Alabama counterpart on his willingness to enforce the law of the land, but Sessions consistently asserted he would ensure equal justice under the law.
“I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters,” Sessions said. “I have witnessed it. We must continue to move forward and never back. I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by our LGBT community. I will ensure that the statutes protecting their civil rights and their safety are full enforced. I understand the lifelong scars born by women who are victims of assault and abuse.”
While he did receive some moments of reprieve from his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the Democrats took unprecedented measures to throw him off. For the first time ever, a sitting Senator, Cory Booker (D-NJ), testified against a colleague in a confirmation hearing.
“If confirmed, Sen. Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates he won’t.”
Fellow South Alabamian Rep. Bradley Bryne immediately came to Sessions’ defense, and he scolded Sen. Booker for playing politics. “I just don’t understand where he’s [Booker] coming from. Those of us that know Jeff Sessions because he’s one of us, he was our U.S. Attorney in Mobile for 12 years,” Rep. Byrne said. “Senator Sessions’ ethical nature, dedication to public service, and commitment to the rule of law shined throughout his confirmation hearing today. He showed great poise and a deep understanding on a wide range of important issues. The petty political attacks on his character fell flat, and Senator Sessions just further indicated why he is the perfect choice to lead the Justice Department.”
Other Alabama officials also came to his defense.“Today, Senator Sessions promised to restore respect and support for America’s law officers, protect religious freedoms across the country, and enforce federal immigration laws,” Rep. Brooks (R-AL5) said. “President-elect Donald Trump selected the right man to serve as America’s next United States Attorney General and I look forward to his expeditious confirmation.”
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL4), whose district was just named the “most Trumpy” in the country, also came to the defense of his fellow legislator. “Senator Sessions did a fantastic job today in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Aderholt. “His knowledge of the law, his commitment to upholding the law, and his desire for justice was on full display today. He demonstrated what the people of Alabama already know, that he will make a great United States Attorney General.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL2) was not only proud of Sessions, but also believes that he will be confirmed. “Senator Sessions really knocked it out of the park today,” Roby said. “He was fully prepared and poised in the face of some pretty tough questioning. I’m glad that the American people are finally seeing in Jeff Sessions the principled, fair-minded leader that Alabamians have known for many years. I have no doubt the Senate will ultimately confirm Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States.”