The Wire

  • ‘Opioid abuse is an epidemic that ignores cultural and political boundaries’ — AG Steve Marshall

    Attorney General Steve Marshall issued the following statement today praising President Donald Trump for introducing his Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand:

    “I want to thank President Trump for his dedication to fight the terrible blight of opioid abuse in America. Opioid abuse is an epidemic that ignores cultural and political boundaries; it affects all of us—and thus demands a response that includes all of us.”

    “While I am still reviewing the specifics of President Trump’s initiative, I am heartened to see that his outline includes many of the recommendations of Alabama’s Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council; recommendations such as improved prescription monitoring, increased access to treatment and recovery support for persons suffering from opioid addiction, and legislation targeting low-dosage, super-lethal drugs like fentanyl.”

    “My hope is that, in the coming months, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions will work side-by-side with state and local officials to turn these ideas into reality. Together, we can conquer what the President has rightly called the ‘Crisis Next Door.’”

  • Trump’s border wall prototype visit ‘a ridiculous waste of time’ — Ann Coulter

    Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter appeared on a Los Angeles radio program and ridiculed the president’s recent inspection of border wall prototypes, calling the photo-op “a ridiculous waste of time.”

  • VIDEO: FBI search for $55 million in lost Civil War gold buried in Pennsylvania — NBC Nightly News

    A story that $55 million in Union gold was lost during the Civil War has long been dismissed as a myth — but this week, a team of FBI agents joined the search in rural Pennsylvania.

1 year ago

Jeff Sessions’ farewell speech receives a standing ovation

Though he faced a contentious confirmation process, now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions received a warm farewell from his colleagues in the U.S. Senate. Following his final address as a senator on Wednesday, the Mobile native received a standing ovation.

Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General by a vote almost along party lines. One Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W. Va.) crossed the aisle to help Republicans approve Sessions’ nomination. He resigned his office Wednesday at 11:55 p.m.

His nomination spurred 30 hours of debate in the final days before he received final approval.

“I appreciate the president and his confidence in me,” Sessions said in his final speech. “By your vote I have been given a real challenge. I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.”

During his remarks, he encouraged his Senate colleagues to find unity and focus on the common ground that both parties shared.

“I don’t think we have such a classical disagreement that we can’t work together,” Sessions said. “I’ve always tried to keep my disagreements from being personal. I’ve always tried to be courteous to my colleagues.”

Throughout the weeks leading up to his confirmation, the former Alabama Senator faced waves of debunked attacks on his character. He expressed hope that future confirmation processes did not have to exhibit similar rancor.

“I would say what would be my prayer for this body is that in the future maybe the intensity of the last few weeks would die down and maybe somehow we get along better,” he said.

The White House swore in Sessions on Thursday morning.

“A new era of justice begins,” Trump said as Sessions was sworn in. “And it begins right now.”

“Mr. President, I thank you for this great honor,” Sessions said. “It’s something that I never thought would happen in my life.’

2 years ago

Shelby: I’m not sure The Fed knows what they’re doing; printing money doesn’t work

(Video Above: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) discusses Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony.)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has a simple but pointed response to questions about the United States Federal Reserve and its Chairman Janet Yellen: “I’m not sure the Fed knows what they’re doing.”

In the wake of Yellen testifying before the Shelby-chaired Senate Banking Committee, Alabama’s senior senator told CNBC he believes The Fed, as it is known, has a credibility problem.

“They’ve got a credibility issue in a lot of ways,” said Shelby. “The one I was referring to is that I’m not sure the data they collect everywhere and claim to be such experts at is working for them… Something’s amiss there, and we’re not sure what it is. I think it’s inside The Fed.”

The Fed’s money printing operation has pumped over four times as much money into the economy as President Obama’s stimulus package, all without the approval of Congress.

As a result, Shelby has in the past referred to the Federal Reserve as “the biggest enabler of our exploding debt.”

But in spite of their efforts, the U.S. economy remains sluggish.

“If you look at the history of artificial fiscal stimulus, it generally doesn’t work,” Shelby intoned. “The economy is really not as bright as the Fed chairman would tell us. The real unemployment rate is still too high, the economy is not growing the way we’d like it to do.”

Shelby also placed some of the blame on Congress.

“I’ve always thought we borrow too much money, we save too little money and we spend too much,” he said. “That’s congress and this administration, too.”

Many Republicans, including Sen. Shelby, believe Yellen’s monetary policies put the United States at enormous risk of experiencing rapid inflation. That would make every product Americans buy more expensive.

Also of note, while China is often mentioned by budget hawks as a major holder of U.S. debt — and it certainly is — the U.S. Federal Reserve actually holds almost twice as much of the U.S. debt than do the Chinese.

“She should know what she’s doing,” Shelby concluded of Yellen. “I’m not sure The Fed knows what they’re doing.”

2 years ago

Shelby overcomes torrent of negative ads, easily wins re-election to sixth term

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — United States Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) easily won re-election to a sixth term Tuesday evening, closing out a contentious primary battle that was one of the nastiest in the country. Shelby hovered around 67% of the vote throughout the night, and precincts are continuing to report their results.

“Tonight’s about the future,” Shelby told a crowd of supporters in Tuscaloosa. “It’s about what kind of America we want, what kind of opportunities we want to give our children. With your help, this is the first step. It’s the primary. It’s a good night. I want to thank everybody in the state.”

Shelby beat back four primary opponents, including 33-year-old Jonathan McConnell, who ran almost 100% negative ads attempting to paint Shelby as an out-of-touch Washington insider.

After ignoring the attacks for months, Shelby pushed back hard in the closing weeks of the campaign, hammering McConnell for his immigration position and numerous integrity issues.

McConnell’s campaign was hampered by character questions from the beginning. Another candidate accused him of trying to pay him to exit the race; he was found to have been guilty of numerous elections violations in his college SGA race; and his business record included accusations of outsourcing jobs to foreign nationals and helping a partner company skirt immigration laws.

Immigration became the central policy issue of the campaign after audio surfaced of McConnell advocating for giving illegal immigrants tax-ID numbers, a position that drew amnesty accusations from many conservatives.

Shelby’s conservative bonafides were strengthened by endorsements from the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life and the country’s largest Tea Party group, but the race’s biggest endorsement came from Shelby’s U.S. Senate colleague, Jeff Sessions, who called Shelby his “rock-solid partner on immigration and budget battles.”

Shelby was first elected to the U.S. House in 1978 and served three terms in Congress before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He is currently chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, but is in line to become chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee in 2017, if Republicans are able to maintain control of the upper chamber.

This article will be updated as more details emerge.

2 years ago

Poll shows Californians want Alabama native Condi Rice to replace their liberal US senator

Alabama-native and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during an interview
Alabama-native and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during an interview

A recently released Field Poll shows the deep blue state of California has someone in mind to replace their longtime liberal U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), but it is probably not anyone you would expect.

Alabama native and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received the highest level of support of any potential candidate polled, even higher than California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is the unquestioned Democratic frontrunner going into the race.

The poll sampled just shy of 1,000 likely California voters and offered 18 potential candidates, asking whether survey respondents “would be inclined or not inclined to vote for that person.”

Rice, who the L.A. Times has called the GOP’s “dream candidate,” has so far rejected overtures to enter the race. Polls have shown that as many as three in ten Democrats would abandon their Party to vote for the popular former Bush Administration official.

The Black Conservatives Fund has frequently joined the chorus of individuals and groups urging Rice to return to public life, going as far as to say that her running “might even put California in play for a GOP presidential candidate.”

“Condi is a true American success story. Her father was a minister. She’s an accomplished pianist, diplomat, and a role model for millions,” the group said in a fundraising email. “But the best news of all is that if she runs, she can steal California’s U.S. Senate seat from the Democrats.”

Rice is a former Stanford Provost and currently serves as a political science professor and on the faculty of the university’s graduate school of business. Her private sector experience includes board positions for the Carnegie Corporation, Chevron, Hewlett Packard, Charles Schwab, Rand Corporation and more. But she is most well known for her time in the Bush administration. She became the first female National Security Advisor during President George W. Bush’s first term. She went on the become the 66th Secretary of State, succeeding Colin Powell as the nation’s top diplomat.

In spite of Party leaders’ numerous attempts to coax her back into the spotlight, Rice continues to signal little to no interest in returning to politics.

“I’m quite content to spend my life helping young people find themselves, I’ve had my fill of politics,” she said late last year. “I’m a very happy university professor… the best thing about being a university professor is that you see young people as they’re being shaped and molded toward their own future and you have a chance to be a part of that.”

After a different poll showed Rice as California voters’ top choice for U.S. Senate last year, Rice’s chief of staff said it “doesn’t change her position about running for Senate. She plans to stay at Stanford.”

There is little reason to believe anything has changed since then, but California voters — not to mention Republicans all over the country — continue to hold out hope that she will reconsider.

2 years ago

Sessions reveals 96% of arrested illegal immigrant minors are allowed to stay in US

Chart from the The Subcommittee On Immigration And The National Interest
Chart from the The Subcommittee On Immigration And The National Interest

WASHINGTON — Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Thursday released a stunning chart illustrating that over 96% of the illegal alien minors arrested in the United States are being allowed to stay in the country, rather than deported back to their country of origin.

According to a release from The Senate Subcommittee on Immigration And The National Interest, which Sessions chairs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has apprehended 126,902 “unaccompanied” illegal alien juveniles in the past several years, with the number increasing each year. During that same time period, only 4,680 were removed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or roughly 3.6 percent of the total apprehensions.

“Clearly, the overwhelming majority of these purportedly unaccompanied illegal alien juveniles are from Central America, and not Mexico – where it is easier to do a quick return (even though many are not),” Sessions’ committee staff said in a release. “Even if one assumes that all of the purportedly unaccompanied illegal alien juveniles from Mexico were immediately deported, it would still mean than only 4.8 percent of those who illegally entered during this period were removed.”

During a recent hearing, Senator Sessions asked the Executive Associate Director of ICE, Tom Homan, if increased enforcement would result in a dramatic reduction in attempts to come to the United States illegally.

“I think if you have a consequence of deterrence to illegal activity, the illegal activity will slow down,” he replied.

The lack of enforcement under the Obama administration has led to an influx of illegal unaccompanied minors coming into the country and has caused a humanitarian crisis at the border in recent years.

According to a top Pentagon staffer, the U.S. government has considered housing some of them at military bases around the country, including Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

Senator Sessions and his Alabama colleague Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) responded by sending a strongly worded letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell expressing their objection to any plan to house illegal aliens in the state, particularly at the military installation.

“Instead of wasting resources searching for housing locations more than 900 miles away from our southern border, we firmly believe that the Administration should be expeditiously and humanely transporting these individuals back to their homes,” the senators wrote.

In addition to this and other illegal immigration, each year the U.S. issues more than 1 million green cards, admits 700,000 guest workers, and allows roughly 500,000 foreign students to study in the U.S.

2 years ago

Sessions: America’s open borders are fueling an exploding heroin epidemic
(Video above: Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) hears testimony in a U.S. Senate Committee hearing titled “Attacking America’s Epidemic of Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse”)

WASHINGTON — With the head of U.S. drug policy sitting before him in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Wednesday stated a little-discussed fact: America’s porous borders are not only a national security and economic issue, they are contributing to an exploding heroin epidemic all across the country.

A revealing report by the Washington Post late last year detailed the rise of U.S. heroin use and the Mexican drug lords that keep the drug in ready supply.

A sophisticated farm-to-arm supply chain is fueling America’s surging heroin appetite, causing heroin to surpass cocaine and meth to become the nation’s No. 1 drug threat for the first time. As demand has grown, the flow of heroin — a once-taboo drug now easier to score in some cities than crack or pot — has changed, too.

Mexican cartels have overtaken the U.S. heroin trade, imposing an almost corporate discipline. They grow and process the drug themselves, increasingly replacing their traditional black tar with an innovative high-quality powder with mass market appeal: It can be smoked or snorted by newcomers as well as shot up by hard-core addicts.

They have broadened distribution beyond the old big-city heroin centers like Chicago or New York to target unlikely places such as Dayton. The midsize Midwestern city today is considered to be an epicenter of the heroin problem, with addicts buying and overdosing in unsettling droves. Crack dealers on street corners have been supplanted by heroin dealers ranging across a far wider landscape, almost invisible to law enforcement. They arrange deals by cellphone and deliver heroin like pizza.

Senator Sessions, known as a no-nonsense advocate of law and order, spent years in the U.S. Justice Department and as Alabama’s Attorney General. During that time, he saw first-hand how the justice system tackled with varying degrees of success the proliferation of illicit drugs.

“In the 1970s I became an Assistant United States Attorney and I was given 17 heroine cases to prosecute — they were small ones, the didn’t trust me with anything bigger — and it was almost all coming from Turkey,” Sessions recalled. “President Carter was very aggressive on that. I give him credit. I came back in 1981 as United States Attorney and we went several years before we saw a heroin case.”

Sessions also took aim at prescription drug abuse.

“We had some doctors (illegally dealing the drugs) and we had some pharmacists — which we didn’t expect,” he said. “The simple deal was, the DEA and the local police chief signed a one-page memorandum in my office that nobody would have a plea bargain on a prescription drug (charge) until they told us where it came from. It came from a very limited number of sources. And that problem of that particular drug was virtually eliminated in Alabama for a while.”

Sessions told those stories Wednesday as America’s top drug policy officials sat before him in a U.S. Senate Committee hearing titled “Attacking America’s Epidemic of Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse.”

Sessions asked Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, if he believed “reduced price, high purity, and increased accessibility of heroin are the major drivers of the recent increase in rates of heroin use.”

Mr. Botticelli said those factors have indeed “significantly increased heroine use rates in the United States.”

“Well, I think that’s a good answer,” Sessions replied, “and the lack of enforcement at the border is a big part of this…We can impact supply—heroin at low prices and high purity on the streets [is] dangerous, and prosecutions are critical to this. People need to go to jail for pushing this kind of addictive power into our communities and destroying lives and families.”

2 years ago

Here’s what you need to know about the four Republicans challenging Richard Shelby

Jonathan McConnell, Shadrack McGill and Jimmy Martin are challenging U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby in the 2016 Republican primary.
Jonathan McConnell, Shadrack McGill and Jimmy Martin are challenging U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby in the 2016 Republican primary.

*This article has been updated to add a fourth candidate who qualified just before the deadline.*

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has attracted a handful of challengers in his bid for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, none of whom appear to pose a serious threat to the popular conservative closing out his career on his own terms.

First elected to the Alabama State Senate in 1970, Shelby went on to serve four terms in the U.S. House before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1987.

The anti-incumbent sentiment among the U.S. electorate has led to the defeat of several longtime incumbents in recent years, most notably former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Ms.) also barely survived a challenge last year.

But Shelby has insulated himself from similar issues by voting with his constituents — Heritage Action currently ranks him the third most conservative U.S. Senator and he has a lifetime A+ rating from the NRA and conservative immigration group Numbers USA — and by remaining accessible. Unlike many Senators, who only have to run for re-election once every six years, Shelby still maintains his primary residence in his home state and holds public town halls in every county in the state ever year (almost 2,000 and counting).

“I am running for the United States Senate because I’m not done fighting for Alabama,” Shelby told Yellowhammer. “My unmatched record of proven, conservative leadership puts me in the best position to stand up for Alabamians against big government policies in Washington. I have always and will continue to put Alabamians first.”

With all of that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the four Republicans challenging Alabama’s most powerful politician:

Marcus Bowman

The Fairhope resident has only lived in Alabama for a few years. He manages regulatory affairs and compliance for Standard furniture manufacturing, according to an online bio. Bowman’s résumé also includes a stint managing transportation-policy research projects “for an Asian company located in Washington, D.C.,” where he lived prior to moving to the Yellowhammer State. He holds a Masters of Public Policy (MPP) from George Mason University and a B.S. in Finance and minor in Economics from Iowa State University.

His most recent political involvement was as chairman of the Baldwin County Young Republicans.

John Martin

Martin is a Dothan resident who flew reconnaissance drones for the U.S. Army during the Iraq War.

Here’s how the Marines describe the RQ-7B Shadow that Martin flew:

The RQ-7B Shadow is designed to provide reconnaissance, relay communications and assist in target acquisition. The RQ-7B Shadow keeps an eye above the battlefield for extended periods of time, constantly relaying information between air and ground controls.

He has been a commercial pilot since returning from the Middle East.

Martin ran for Congress in 2008, only raising about $1,000 total.

Political insiders in the Wirgreass say Martin could serve as something of a stalking horse for Tea Party leader Becky Gerritson’s campaign in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District by helping push up turnout among grassroots conservatives in that part of the state.

Jonathan McConnell

McConnell was Auburn University SGA President in 2004 before going on to serve as a Captain in the U.S. Marines from 2005 – 2008. He was stationed on the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq in 2006 and later redeployed to the Syrian Border in 2007.

He now runs a maritime security firm called Meridian Global Consulting, protecting merchant ships from piracy.

McConnell is also the son of former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Roger McConnell, giving him some state party ties that other candidates may not have. The McConnell camp took some early hits, even before announcing his candidacy, after being turned away by dozens of elected officials and party leaders whose endorsements they sought ahead of his public announcement. Undeterred, McConnell is most likely angling to raise his name recognition for another run in the future.

Shadrack McGill

In a 2010 election cycle that was very good for Alabama Republicans, McGill pulled off a stunning State Senate victory over longtime incumbent Democrat Lowell Barron, one of the Legislature’s most powerful members.

An otherwise unremarkable senate term was briefly interrupted when the McGills made national headlines in 2013. Sen. McGill’s wife took to Facebook to vent about women she says emailed or Facebook messaged her husband “inviting him to explore” and also “sending pictures of themselves.” Her post went viral, landing them on countless national websites and even resulting in a nationally-televised interview on ABC News.

Sen. McGill said the Facebook messages finally caused his wife’s frustrations to boil over after two strippers had previously come to his house in the middle of the night during his campaign.

“During the campaign, we had two strippers come to my house at 1 o’clock in the morning,” Sen. McGill recalled. “Me and my wife both got up to address the situation. They did inform me that they were strippers at a particular club in Huntsville. In my 35 years, I’ve never had that happen.”

He chose not to run for re-election in 2014, but is back now and will likely be angling for the support of Alabama’s large evangelical population.

3 years ago

Rush praises Sessions: ‘He is right on the money, well-spoken and brilliant.’

Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh (Photo: YouTube)
Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh (Photo: YouTube)

On Friday, conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh praised Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for being one of the leading opponents of Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General, declaring that Sessions is “the one who’s making the most sense about this.”

During one of Lynch’s confirmation hearings earlier this year, Sessions posed a simple question to her: “Who has more right to a job in this country, a lawful immigrant who’s here, a green card holder, or a citizen, or a person who entered the country unlawfully?”

It was an expected line of questioning from Sessions, who said last year that the Senate should reject any proposed replacement for current AG Eric Holder who supports the President’s immigration policies.

But even if the question was predictable, the answer was not.

“Well Senator, I believe the right and obligation to work is shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here,” Lynch calmly replied.

In a single sentence, Lynch, by freely admitting she believes illegal immigrants have just as much of a right to American jobs as do U.S. Citizens, made immigration the central issue of her nomination. That, in turn, increased Sessions’ profile during her nomination process, and he has not held back.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Sessions statement:

My concerns are furthered by Ms. Lynch’s unambiguous declaration that “the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here…”

Such a notion of civil rights, as Civil Rights Commission Member Peter Kirsanow articulated, is “incoherent and ahistorical.” Essential to civil rights is the equal and uniform application of the laws. When the President capriciously suspends those laws and provides benefits to people here unlawfully, he injures the rights of lawful workers—denying them the protections Congress passed to secure their jobs and wages.

We are at a dangerous moment. Professor Jonathan Turley described it as a “constitutional tipping point.” For the Senate to approve this nomination would bring us another step closer to the point’s edge.

Sessions’ Alabama colleague Sen. Richard Shelby has also been outspoken against Lynch’s nomination, telling Yellowhammer Radio recently that “she’s supposed to defend the Constitution, but what she wants to do is defend the President, and that’s wrong.

However, other Republicans, most recently Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, have said Lynch should be confirmed.

“I side totally with Senator Sessions on this,” Limbaugh declared. “He is right on the money. Well spoken and brilliant on it… He thinks it is wrong to confirm somebody who is openly committed to breaking the law. He believes Eric Holder is lawless and President Obama is lawless, particularly in the area of immigration. And they are.

“We’re not enforcing existing immigration law. And since Obama cannot get a law he wants out of Congress, he’s prepared to do amnesty via executive order, which is outside the Constitution. He does not have the Constitutional authority, and yet he is going to do it and Eric Holder is right there with him. Lynch has promised to do the same thing. So Jeff Sessions, in describing why the President’s executive amnesty is lawless, says… ‘No senator should vote to confirm anyone in this position — the top law enforcement job in the country — who’s supported the President’s unlawful actions. Congress must defend it’s Constitutional role, which is clearly threatened.’ He’s encouraging all Republicans to oppose her because she has flat out admitted that she will engage in unlawful behavior.”

Limbaugh lamented the “Republican establishment’s” lackluster opposition to Lynch’s nomination and urged them to follow Sessions’ lead.

“(W)hat Jeff Sessions says never enters their calculations, and yet he’s the one who’s making the most sense about this.”

3 years ago

Here’s how Jeff Sessions is giving Republicans a blueprint to win back the White House

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Here are two statements, both made on the floor of the United States Senate. One of them was delivered by the U.S. Senate’s most liberal Democrat, the other by one of the body’s most conservative members.

See if you can tell the difference.

Statement A:

I come to the floor today to ask a fundamental question: Who does Congress work for? Does it work for the millionaires, the billionaires, the giant companies with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or does it work for all the people. People are frustrated with Congress… Mostly it’s because they see a Congress that works just fine for the big guys, but it won’t lift a finger to help them. If big companies can deploy armies of lobbyists and lawyers to get the Congress to vote for special deals that benefit themselves, then we simply confirm the view of the American people that the system is rigged.

Statement B:

Three of our greatest ‘Masters of the Universe,’ I like to refer to, have joined in an op-ed in the New York Times just last week to share their wisdom from on high and to tell us in Congress how to do our business…

Sheldon Adelson… Warren Buffett… and Bill Gates… all super billionaires, aren’t happy, apparently. They don’t have much respect for Congress, and by indirection the people who elect people to Congress, it appears by the tone of their article.


Those three billionaires have three votes. The individual who works stocking the shelves at the grocery store, the barber, the doctor, the lawyer, the cleaners operator, [and] the person who picks up our garbage are every bit as valuable as they are. So I know who I represent. I represent citizens of the United States of America…

Both statements take direct aim at the big-money special interests who average Americans increasingly believe are controlling the country. Statement A was made by Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the presidential candidate of choice for many in the Democratic Party’s far-left base. Statement B was made by Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose conservative political positions could not place him any farther away from Warren’s views on the ideological spectrum.

So how is it that two pols who are diametrically opposed on basically every issue could sound so incredibly similar?

They’ve both — better than any other elected officials in the country — grasped the fact that “Americans of all stripes agree: The system is stacked against them.”

The Wall St. Journal’s Neil King lays out the results of a recent NBC-WSJ poll:

58 percent of Democrats; “51 percent of Republicans; 55 percent of whites; 60 percent of blacks; 53 percent of Hispanics; as well as decent majorities of every age and professional cluster, including blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and retirees” all hold that belief that America’s economic and political systems are stacked against them.

But, just like Sens. Warren and Sessions, there is significant disagreement among American voters about what should be done to rectify the inequities.

“A majority of Republicans who feel things are stacked against them say the government is doing too much,” King explained, “while an even larger majority of Democrats of similar mind think the government should do more.”

Sessions is proving that Republicans can compete and win by engaging this large and growing segment of the voting population. But while Sen. Warren enjoys “the biggest spread in positive goodwill” with that voting bloc, no potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate other than Sen. Rand Paul maintains a net positive image among them.

“Anyone running for the White House in 2016 will want to appeal to this huge block of the politically and economically alienated,” King said.

And Sessions is giving Republicans the blueprint for how to do it.

[h/t The Fix]

4 years ago

In the US Senate where seniority is paramount, Alabama is poised to dominate

Sens. Jeff Sessions & Richard Shelby
Sens. Jeff Sessions & Richard Shelby

With the 2014 primary elections behind us, all attention is focused on the United States Senate, where the Democrats are clinging to a slim majority and facing a challenging electoral map.

Here’s a quick look at the 2014 U.S. Senate races by the numbers:
35: Number of seats up for re-election
21: Number of contested seats held by Democrats (60%)
6: Number of Senate seats Republicans need to win to regain control
6+: Average number of senate seats the minority Party normally gains in a midterm election in a president’s second term
7: Number of the contested seats held by a Democrat in a state Romney won last time

Those numbers have given Republicans a great deal of optimism this election cycle. But in Alabama, that optimism is multiplied by the fact that Alabama’s senators are well positioned to be major players in the next session of Congress, thanks in large part to senate rules, which heavily favor the senators who have served in the body the longest.

Alabama’s senior U.S. senator Richard Shelby will be the 7th most senior member of the United States senate when it convenes in January of 2015. Shelby entered the body in 1987.

Alabama’s junior U.S. senator Jeff Sessions will be either the 18th or 19th most senior member of the senate next year, depending on whether Democratic senator Mary Landrieu holds on to her hotly contested seat in Louisiana. (That looks unlikely at this point.) Sessions entered the body in 1997.

That means the average seniority of Alabama’s senators will be either 12.5 or 13. The only senate delegation that will eclipse that level of seniority is California’s, whose two senators will have an average seniority rank of 10.5.

So why does that matter?

In addition to perks like better office space and a desk closer to the front of the Senate Chamber, senior senators get plumb committee assignments and chairmanships.

If Republicans re-take the senate, Sen. Shelby will Chair the Banking Committee and be the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations. Sen. Sessions will chair the Budget Committee.

Back in April, Yellowhammer summarized how big of a deal that scenario would be:

If Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, Alabama would likely be the only state with two chairmen of A-level committees. No other state has that level of seniority.

On top of that, the way that the Budget and Appropriations committees interplay with each other would create a unique situation in which Alabama’s senators would be playing leading roles in shaping U.S. economic policy. There’s a very realistic potential scenario in which one Alabamian (Sessions) sets the number for how much money the federal government has to spend, and another Alabamian (Shelby) plays a major role in how the money is spent.

That’s why it’s safe to say that Alabama stands to gain as much or more than any state in the country by a Republican takeover of the Senate.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

While the rest of the Senate is on vacation, Sessions continues fight against executive amnesty

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

The United States Senate began a five-week recess on Friday, in spite of it having not voted on a package to address the border crisis before leaving town.

But while the body as a whole is on vacation, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) remains in D.C., and even went to the floor of the empty Senate chamber today to address the American people and the President of the United States, urging him not to overstep the Constitutional bounds of his office.

“The immigration policies of President Obama are having a devastating effect on the classical American goal of a fair, lawful system of immigration that serves the national interests,” Sessions said to open his remarks. “He has directed federal immigration officers not to enforce plain law. He meets privately with pro-amnesty, open borders groups, and special interest business groups and promises to take even more action to erase law.”

Sessions derided the Obama Administration’s willingness to bend words — and even the Constitution itself — to advance their agenda.

I know this is a somewhat postmodern time where many believe words have no meaning except as they advance one’s agenda of the day. But, such approaches are wholly inconsistent with the founding concepts of America. We were founded on the belief that words do have meaning, that sound principles must be adhered to, and that truth is real and must be sought.

While we debate many issues and good people can disagree, surely we can all agree that at this moment we are in the United States Senate chamber and that it’s daylight outside. Those are matters not for debate else we are indeed through the “looking glass.” Likewise, surely it’s not a matter of debate, among Democrat or Republican, that the President cannot make law or nullify law. He just cannot.

Thus, we must in unity call on President Obama not to go through with his stated desire to eviscerate long and duly established American immigration law. What law might the next president ignore, bend, or nullify?

At that point Sessions spoke directly to President Obama, as well as the officials inside his Administration who are, in Sessions’ view, being asked by the president to break the law.

Mr. President, frustration and pique can result in hasty and unwise decisions. Please do not do this. And, to the officials and lawyers who have received this directive, you must always remember that your first duty is to the Constitution and the nation’s laws. Our history has been littered with events when officials have had to stand up for the Constitution and tell the President “no.” Usually, after a time, they cool down and back off. That’s what you must do now.

Sessions closed by appealing to the people, urging them to push back against the president’s lawlessness and to ask their senators where they stand on the issue.

My message to the American people today is this: you can stop this. We can stop this. We will not let this stand. And that fight begins with a vote on the House-passed bill to block this new executive action. The Senate cannot be allowed to surrender to the President’s lawlessness. I am calling today on every Senator to support this bill, and to demand Majority Leader Reid call it up for a vote…

And to every member of the public, red state or blue state or purple state, call your Senator and ask them where they stand. Ask them if they support the House bill to block executive amnesty and if they will demand it receive a vote. You are a citizen of this country and you are entitled to a clear answer to this question.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Fox News: Jeff Sessions is ‘brick wall of opposition’ to Obama’s immigration plan

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) continued his rise as a national conservative thought leader on Wednesday, with Fox News “Special Report” touting his opposition to President Obama’s immigration executive orders.

Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry noted that Obama’s recent immigration proposals have hit a “brick wall,” namely, Sen. Sessions.

“The details [of President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion for the border crisis] have sparked a brick wall of opposition from Republicans, like Senator Jeff Sessions who fired off a letter saying Congress must block the President’s funding request until he agrees to swear off more executive orders on immigration,” Henry said. “Sessions charged the last one in 2012 ‘…unleashed a flood of new illegal immigration into the country. This is the disaster he created.’”

Sessions has been a member of the United States Senate for over 17 years now, but there has never been a point during his career that his star has shined brighter than it is right now.

Breitbart News recently referred to him as “the leading intellectual force against amnesty in Congress.” Mark Levin wondered aloud on air why other Republicans aren’t fighting like Jeff Sessions. Laura Ingraham bluntly told her national radio audience in March that “we need Sessions for President.”

With the contentious debate surrounding immigration expected to continue for the foreseeable future, Sessions’ profile will likely continue to rise. And if Republicans re-take the Senate in November, which appears to be more and more likely, his role as Senate Budget Chairman will boost him even higher.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Strange scheduled to go toe-to-toe with Senate’s leading global warming alarmist

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange

WASHINGTON — Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning during a U.S. Senate hearing on climate change. He is expected to voice strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced decision to place stricter regulations on U.S. coal plants.

Strange was invited by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. The subcommittee, of which Sen. Sessions is the Ranking Member, is holding a hearing titled “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will be chairing Wednesday’s hearing. The Huffington Post recently wrote that Whitehouse “has been on a one-man quest to get the Senate to talk about climate change.” He has even encouraged environmentalist’s to make climate change “the next gay rights.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Four individuals are expected to testify in favor of the Obama Administration’s approach, while three individuals, including Strange, will testify against.

“The Obama administration’s EPA ruling to cut carbon emissions at power plants is a direct affront to workers in states like Alabama which not only rely upon coal-fired plants to generate most of their electricity, but are also home to thousands of coal industry jobs,” Strange said shortly after the EPA announced its new round of regulations earlier this month. “Make no mistake, this ruling will cost us jobs and raise heating and cooling bills in Alabama.”

The EPA ruling mandates the State of Alabama cut power plant carbon emissions by 27 percent by 2030. More than half of all the electricity Alabama Power generates in the state comes from coal-fired plants. Additionally, more than 16,000 Alabama jobs are dependent upon the coal industry, which has an estimated $1.3 billion economic impact on the state.

A newly released study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts the Obama administration’s environmental mandates will cost the United States more than 220,000 jobs over the next several years.

According to the study, the proposed regulations will have a disproportionate impact on southern states, where energy costs would jump by $6.6 billion per year over the next decade-and-a-half. The “East-South-Central” region of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky would see its GDP shrink by an estimated $2.2 billion and would lose 21,400 jobs as a result of the plan.

“The extremist agenda of the Obama administration is forcing unwarranted higher energy costs upon Americans and further threatening an already sluggish economic recovery,” Strange said. “I am reviewing this latest burdensome mandate and will pursue every legal option to stop it.”

Based on past comments by both Whitehouse and Strange, there’s a good chance we may see some fireworks Wednesday morning.

4 years ago

Sessions: White House ‘oblivious,’ made ‘colossal error’ with Taliban prisoner trade

(Above: Sen. Sessions discusses the Taliban prisoner swap with Matt Murphy)

As a guest this morning on Matt Murphy’s Birmingham-area talk radio program, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he believes the Obama Administration made a “colossal error” in negotiating a prisoner swap with the Taliban.

Key national security staffers from the White House hosted a closed-door briefing with members of the Senate Wednesday night in which they detailed the decision to release five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“We had a briefing with a number of officials last night,” Sessions said. “It was one of the most troubling briefings I’ve ever been in. It had no credibility with me. The arguments and the reasons they gave for what they did just did not ring true. They didn’t meet the common sense test. We’ve got people at war right now in Afghanistan. They’re on patrol. They’re working with the Afghan allies and some of the things they’ve said about this just seems oblivious to the reality of that.”

Sessions pointed out that the president ignored the law that congress must be notified 30 days before any such prisoner release.

“He did it anyway,” Sessions said. “He didn’t tell (congress) in advance and it’s a colossal error. In my opinion, it’s a colossal error. It hurts our country. It weakens the United States in a whole host of ways and I am very worried about it. I just think it doesn’t reflect an understanding of what it means to commit men and women to combat and what we owe them. Are we going to release five of the worst terrorists? And one of these terrorists in Afghanistan – his statement has been interpreted and he basically said it’s the equivalent of adding 10,000 jihadists to our cause, this release. This is a huge victory for the Taliban and al Qaeda and I am just baffled by it. I can’t comprehend it.”

(h/t Breitbart)

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Sessions: EPA’s anti-energy regs deal crushing blow to struggling U.S. workers

Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the EPA's new energy regulations June 2, 2014. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot)
Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the EPA’s new energy regulations June 2, 2014. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) took to the floor of the Senate on Monday to blast the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to place stricter regulations on U.S. coal plants.

“Median income is down in America per family by $2,300. Your wages are down, your job prospects are down, unemployment remains exceedingly high, and we are now going to add in effect another tax, a regulatory tax on the price of energy so a person’s electric bill and their gas bill is going to go up?” an exasperated Sessions asked rhetorically. “That’s the inevitable result of [the newly announced EPA regulations].”

The EPA will finalize its stricter standards in mid-2015. The agency will then give each state a year to design a plan to implement the new regulations. States will have the option to upgrade their existing coal-fired units and promote “renewable energy,” or abandon coal all together. If a state does not produce an implementation plan, the federal government can intervene and impose one on them.

At least one state attorney general has vowed to file suit against the EPA’s regulations.

The Washington Post noted that “environmentalists consider the regulation the most important step President Obama can take to address climate change, and they have put him on notice that they consider this a litmus test for his second term.” Wind and solar energy producers favor the new regulations because they will put greater pressure on energy producers to abandon fossil fuels in favor of carbon-free sources of electricity.

Business groups and the coal industry are adamantly opposed to the new regulations, claiming they will be the realization of President Obama’s 2008 concession that his energy plan would cause energy rates to “necessarily skyrocket.”

A newly released study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts the Obama administration’s environmental mandates will cost the United States more than 220,000 jobs over the next several years.

According to the study, the proposed regulations will have a disproportionate impact on southern states, where energy costs would jump by $6.6 billion per year over the next decade-and-a-half. The “East-South-Central” region of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky would see its GDP shrink by an estimated $2.2 billion and would lose 21,400 jobs as a result of the plan.

On Monday, Sen. Sessions said the new regulations would also disproportionately impact lower income Americans, a group that President Obama frequently claims to champion.

“This is about jobs. It’s about middle income, hardworking Americans,” Sessions said. “Higher energy costs are direct negatives for poor, hardworking Americans.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, however, said that the U.S. must do something about global warming before it’s too late.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

“For the sake of our families’ health and for our kids future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate,” said McCarthy. “This is not just about disappearing polar bears and ice caps… This is about protecting our health, and it is about protecting our homes.”

Sessions has in recent months been one of the fiercest critics of the Obama Administration’s climate change agenda.

In February, Sessions blistered President Obama’s Science Czar, demanding he stop advancing a political agenda. In March, he said he believes global warming alarmists are spreading “deliberate misinformation.” And in April, Sessions said the president’s EPA Assistant Administrator nominee was flat out denying the facts by claiming global warming is leading to an increased number of extreme weather events.

On Monday, Sessions pointed his criticisms of the Administration’s fudging of the facts directly at the President himself.

“I’ve got to tell you, one of the most frustrating things and one of the most disappointing things to me is that the President in the last several years… has three times said that the temperature is increasing faster than the experts predicted,” Sessions said. “Think about that. The President of the United States, in the face of obvious data to the contrary, is repeatedly saying it’s increasing faster [than the experts predicted]. That worries me. I believe the President of the United States has a responsibility when he advocates for policies to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is not so!”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Sessions’ national profile continues to rise with speech to conservative heavyweights

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has been a member of the United States Senate for over 17 years now. He’s currently running for a fourth term. But even though Sessions has been around for a while, there has never been a point during his career that his star has shined brighter than it is right now, thanks in large part to his outspoken opposition to the bi-partisan push for so-called “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Breitbart News recently referred to him as “the leading intellectual force against amnesty in Congress.” Mark Levin wondered aloud on air last week why other Republicans aren’t fighting like Jeff Sessions. Laura Ingraham bluntly told her national radio audience in March that “we need Sessions for President.”

The media attention Sessions has garnered in recent months has no doubt elevated his profile. But it’s a more behind-the-scenes move that has some Republican heavyweights really starting to pay attention.

Over the weekend, Sessions was the keynote speaker at an event held by the Council for National Policy (CNP), an organization with a nondescript name but a reputation that borders on legendary.

ABC News called it the “self-selected, conservative counterweight to the influential center-left establishment.” It is believed by many to be the group Hillary Clinton was referring to when she told NBC News’ Katie Couric that her husband was a victim of a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” One Clinton advisor concluded at the time that CNP “has the ideology, the money and the political backing to cause social change in the United States.”

But CNP remains largely unknown to the public.

Many of the group’s members decline interviews, citing their long-standing policy against press publicity. The semi-secret air the group has taken on has made it a favorite target of liberal conspiracy theorists. In an era when every conservative organization seems to be trying to out-megaphone the others, the Council for National Policy stands out because, well, it doesn’t want to stand out.

But here is what a couple of influential conservatives have said about the group:

Since 1981, no other organization has come close to being as useful as the Council for National Policy in making it possible for a wide range of powerful conservatives to work effectively together. CNP Action, Inc., its lobbying arm, is CNP’s key to making things happen politically. – Morton Blackwell, Founder and President of The Leadership Institute

CNP Action, Inc. has the ear of the nation’s most influential conservative leaders and works to provide information and encourage their action on significant legislative issues. – Edwin Meese III, Former U.S. Attorney General

CNP holds a handful of events each year with a few hundred guests who are a veritable who’s who of the conservative movement. Past speakers have included U.S. presidents, CIA directors, presidential candidates, senators, congressmen and other leaders in politics, policy and conservative thought.

This past weekend’s event was held at the Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Va. and featured speakers like RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio.

But the group’s choice to headline the event on Friday was none other than Alabama’s Junior Senator Jeff Sessions.

According to attendees who spoke on condition of anonymity, Sessions delivered a speech titled, “How to Champion the American Worker.” His remarks covered the entire GOP agenda — ObamaCare repeal, American energy, tax reform, etc. — but focused in particular on how to boost the party’s standing with lower-income voters through a stronger stance on trade and immigration.

“He really got the people going,” one Council for National Policy member told Yellowhammer. “You would have had to see it to really understand what I mean by that. But you’ve got to remember, these are people who are used to being in the room with presidents. It takes a lot to excite that crowd.”

Another individual who attended the event said that conservative heavyweights have started considering what the future may hold for Sessions.

“It’s probably not realistic to start throwing him around as a possible 2016 contender. The national donor network isn’t there. There are a lot of guys who have in essence been running for president for years and stoking that fire for a long time,” the conference attendee said. “But I’ll say this, Jeff Sessions will be a major player when Republicans take the Senate, if he wants to be — a real thought leader. You could envision a cabinet post in a Republican Administration, too, in 2017.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Sessions: A vote for amnesty is a vote to lower wages of American workers

(Above: Sessions addresses Sens. Reid and Schumer’s immigration bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate)

Sen. Jeff Sessions took to the Senate floor this week to respond to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-Ill., who are once again pushing for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Advocates of the bill have argued that it would boost the American economy. They also cite the fact that major business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Mark Zuckerberg’s, support it as evidence that it would fuel job growth.

But Sessions has consistently asserted that their claims do not pass a simple test of common sense. This week he noted that his Senate colleagues are leaving out one important group who he believes are not in favor of the bill.

“There was one group of people not referenced when Majority Leader Reid and Senator Schumer talked earlier this morning,” Sessions said. “You know who it was? Completely omitted was the American worker. That’s who’s not being discussed in this debate.”

RELATED: Breitbart: Sessions is the leading intellectual force against amnesty

“You bring in 30 million people in the next 10 years, as this bill would do, tripling the number that would normally be given legal status in America, and it will bring down the per person wealth and it will bring down wages,” Sessions continued. “Surely the Chamber of Commerce understands the free market, do they not?”

Sessions recalled a conference call he was on earlier in the week during which they were discussing an influx of steal coming into the country. He then contrasted his Senate colleagues’ concerns over that with their lack of concern over a similar influx of immigrant labor.

“What is the impact of that? What is the concern? More steal, lower price for steel,” Sessions explained. “Bring in more cotton, lower price for cotton. Bring in more labor, you’re going to have lower wages for American workers. That’s what (the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) told us. There’s no dispute about that. Yet we have senators go on this floor and repeatedly say that this is going to increase wages. Give me a break!… A vote for the Reid-Schumer immigration bill is a vote to lower the wages of American workers. Not only that, (it is a vote to make) it harder for Americans to get a job, period.”

Sessions closed his floor remarks by calling out Senate Democrats for letting their liberal ideology and special interest groups get in the way of what is best for the American people.

“I’m glad to talk about this issue, but we’re going to talk about what’s in the interest of the American people,” Sessions declared. “We’re not going to talk about your politics and your ideology and your special interests, we’re going to talk about what is good for America. And what’s good for America is to get more of our unemployed working, to get more wages to go up rather than down.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Alabama congressman says there is ‘zero’ chance of repealing ObamaCare, is he right?

President Barack Obama's signature on the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare
President Barack Obama’s signature on the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare

“The chance of repealing Obamacare is zero,” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-AL03, said bluntly to the Pell City Rotary Club earlier this week.

The reactions to Rogers’ statement were predictable. Emails coming in through Yellowhammer’s contact page from concerned conservatives decried his remarks as defeatism — or worse, complicity. Alabama’s liberal media seized the opportunity to declare Rogers the only honest Republican in the state. “Try getting that much honesty out of almost any Republican running for almost anything across Alabama,” they said. “On second thought, don’t try. You’d be wasting your time.”

In reality, Rogers was simply saying that there is zero chance of repealing ObamaCare with a Democrat-controlled Senate and the Organizer-in-Chief still occupying the White House. Enough Democrats could theoretically defect and override the president’s guaranteed veto, but there’s probably a better chance of Ted Cruz declaring his love for Karl Marx.

“As long as Obama is president and there are too many liberals in the Senate to override a veto, a repeal is not realistic,” Rogers told Yellowhammer today. “I am in favor of voting for one every day, and if we had 60 Shelbys and Sessions, it would be gone.”

So what are the realistic scenarios in which ObamaCare could be repealed at this point? Is there a chance that the entire law could be repealed? Is it better to approach it incrementally, rolling back some of the provisions that even Democrats can’t stomach and thereby rendering the law toothless or inoperable?

There are a ton of different scenarios we could consider, but let’s take a look at a few of the most likely:

Scenario 1: Republicans win the Senate in 2014

So it’s January 5, 2015 and Republican leadership is moving into their new digs in the Capitol as the majority party for the first time since 2007. On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Obama still has two more years left in office.

Obama is a lame duck with no ability to get anything done in Congress, but he still has his weapon of choice — a pen. He normally uses it to enact legally questionable executive orders, but in this case there is a 100 percent chance he will use it to veto any attempt to repeal his signature legislation.

It requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to override a presidential veto. Even the rosiest projects show Republicans with a slim majority in the Senate, so unless a dozen or so Democrats jump on the repeal bandwagon, it simply won’t happen.

However, portions of the law could potentially be rolled back and escape a veto. Republicans would have to tread carefully, though, as some conservatives have expressed outrage over the piecemeal approach in the past.

RELATED: No state gains more than Alabama if Republicans take over US Senate

Scenario 2: Republicans win the White House in 2016, but lose the Senate

So it’s January 3, 2017 and President Elect Bush/Christie/Cruz/Huckabee/Jindal/Kasich/Paul/Perry/Rubio/Ryan/SESSIONS! is trying to get used to receiving his classified security briefings every morning. President Obama is spending his last few weeks in office taking Air Force 1 around the country to his favorite golf resorts and Michelle Obama has ditched the “Let’s Move” schtick and has resorted to binge eating ice cream in the White House kitchen. No one has seen or heard from Hillary Clinton since Nov. 8, 2016 after she was asked by a reporter what she was going to say in her concession speech and she replied, “what difference does it make?”

Photo: Nancy Lee
Photo: Nancy Lee

Unfortunately, the GOP had an uphill battle holding the Senate in 2016 because so many more Republicans were up for re-election (23) than Democrats (10). They weren’t successful and Harry Reid is back for one last hurrah.

Republicans immediately pass an ObamaCare repeal bill out of the House. But what happens in the Senate?

The newly elected Republican president would have the opportunity to use his bully pulpit to demand the Senate take up the legislation, and there is a good chance that public outcry will have reached a point that vulnerable Democrats are ready to play ball. But with the Senate Majority Leader controlling what bills actually come to the floor for a vote, this scenario leaves a lot of uncertainty as to what could happen.

Scenario 3: Republicans win the White House in 2016 and also hold the Senate

The anticipation is more than conservatives can stand. The newly elected president has said he wants an ObamaCare repeal bill on his desk before Easter and Congressional Republicans are being pulled in a thousand different directions by conservative activists, healthcare industry lobbyists, political consultants, talking heads and everyone else wanting to weigh in.
In all likelihood, Republicans would continue making sure insurance is available to individuals with pre-existing conditions and would probably allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance. But ObamaCare as a whole is on the way out.

In order to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to overcome, Republicans would have the option of using a legislative process called “budget reconciliation.” In short, the repeal of ObamaCare would be included in a budget resolution and the debate would be limited to twenty four hours, at which point the bill could pass with a simple majority vote.

With several conservative replacements to ObamaCare already circulating, it would then just be a matter of choosing which market-based solution had the broadest support.

Which scenario do you think is the most likely? Let us know in the comment section below or by tweeting @YHPolitics.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

No state gains more than Alabama if Republicans take over US Senate

United Stats Capitol
United Stats Capitol

Although Republicans have had a pretty dismal run lately in presidential election years, midterm elections have given the GOP a chance to make up some ground. Most notably, the Tea Party wave of 2010 (GOP picked up a whopping 63 seats in the House) installed a Republican majority in the U.S. House that has a very good chance of getting even larger in 2014. With the House safely in Republican hands for now and the presidency on lock for Democrats until 2016, all eyes are on the United States Senate.

Here’s a quick look at 2014 U.S. Senate races by the numbers:
35: Number of seats up for re-election
21: Number of those seats held by Democrats (60%)
17: Number of combined terms served by three longtime top Democrats who are retiring this year (Iowa’s Tom Harkin, Michigan’s Carl Levin, Montana’s Max Baucus)
6: Number of Senate seats GOP needs to regain control
6+: Average number of senate seats the minority Party normally gains in a midterm election in a president’s second term
7: Number of the contested seats held by a Democrat in a state Romney won last time

Those numbers have given Republicans a great deal of optimism this election cycle. Famed election prognosticator Nate Silver stoked the GOP fire by predicting Republicans would pick up 6 seats, the exact number they need to assume the majority.

Here’s the graphic Silver used to lay out the 36 seats up for grabs, along with the probability of each Party winning each race:

538 Senate
So having established that the political winds are favoring Republicans’ right now, what would it mean for Alabama if the GOP does indeed take the Senate?

In short, Alabama stands to gain as much or more than any other state in the country by a Republican takeover of the Senate.

Here’s why:
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
Sen. Shelby will Chair the Banking Committee and be the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations:

We’re several years into the implementation of Dodd-Frank, the sweeping — many conservatives would say onerous — financial regulatory reform package passed by Democrats in response to the so-called “Great Recession.” If Republicans take the Senate and Shelby chairs the Banking Committee, which he almost assuredly would, it would be the first time that a Banking Chairman would likely dig into Dodd-Frank and start calling out some of the more egregious regulations that have been imposed on the U.S. financial sector. That could become the basis for doing something about it.

Shelby would also be at the center of housing finance reform, an issue that has not been getting the headlines but is incredibly important for the U.S. economy. Close to 100 percent of the U.S. mortgage market is currently backed by the federal government. A bipartisan group in the Senate Banking Committee is currently trying to reform the government’s role in the market, but many conservatives don’t believe their efforts are going nearly far enough and leave the government no less involved than they were prior to the 2008 crash. With Shelby guiding the process, he would have the opportunity to build consensus around a more conservative proposal, and close the gap between the Senate and the House, where Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, is pushing major reforms.

Assuming Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, survives his primary challenge and rises to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Shelby would be the second-ranking member of the panel. Shelby is already a legendary deal-maker when it comes to Appropriations. With Republicans in the majority, he gains even more leverage over decisions about where the federal government spends tax dollars.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Sessions will chair the Budget Committee:

The Budget Control Act of 2011 set spending caps for the next several years, which has led Democrats to simply say there is no need for a separate budget. In reality, Democrats don’t want to put their name on a budget and give Republicans the opportunity to call out their big spending and deficits. Meanwhile they can spend all their time bashing House Republicans for their budget proposals.

All of that could come to an end if Republicans re-take the Senate and install Sessions as the Chairman of the Budget Committee.

Having a conservative warrior like Sessions crafting the budget is a dream scenario for many Republicans. But there would be some interesting behind-the-scenes dynamics that would be worth watching.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, remains a key Republican player when it comes to budgeting due to his time as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Bush Administration. Sessions would have an opportunity to carve out his space as the go-to-guy on budgeting matters if he positions himself well, which he is unquestionably capable of doing. But being in the minority Party has afforded Sessions the luxury of laying back and throwing stones at Democrats’ irresponsible budgeting practices. It will take some maneuvering to maintain his brand while working to build consensus around his own budget. He will have to work closely with GOP leadership (i.e. Mitch McConnell, et al) to get a budget resolution passed.

If Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, Alabama would likely be the only state with two chairmen of A-level committees. No other state has that level of seniority.

On top of that, the way that the Budget and Appropriations committees interplay with each other would create a unique situation in which Alabama’s senators would be playing leading roles in shaping U.S. economic policy. There’s a very realistic potential scenario in which one Alabamian (Sessions) sets the number for how much money the federal government has to spend, and another Alabamian (Shelby) plays a major role in how the money is spent.

That’s why it’s safe to say that Alabama stands to gain as much or more than any state in the country by a Republican takeover of the Senate.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Breitbart: Sessions is the leading intellectual force against amnesty

Sessions 1

One of the country’s most widely read conservative media outlets is hailing Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as “arguably the leading intellectual force against amnesty in Congress.”

Breitbart News said in an exclusive piece posted last week that Sessions is “coming out swinging” against what they referred to as a “secretive house immigration push” backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who enlist in the United States military.

“We are now in a period of very large troop reductions. The last thing this nation should be doing is to provide those few slots to persons who illegally entered the United States or who overstayed their visas while denying young Americans the ability to serve their country,” Sessions told Breitbart.

RELATED: Top 8 quotes from Sessions’ immigration stemwinder on the Senate floor

Sophomore Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of California is sponsoring the plan, which proposes permanent residency to illegal aliens who were under the age of 15 when they entered the country and now want to serve in the military in return for citizenship. These individuals are commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” named after the “DREAM Act” that would give blanket amnesty to young illegal immigrants.

Cantor for the first time publicly announced his support of the plan last week and pledged that he would help Denham push the bill through Congress. But their efforts hit a major road block when Sessions caught wind of what they were attempting to do.

“Such a policy would be another unacceptable action that sends a message that this nation is not willing to take the most basic actions to end the immigration lawlessness,” Sessions said. “The first step is to stop rewarding it, as with a career in the United States military — which is not a job Americans won’t do. It is a high calling and a noble career. I am not aware of any evidence indicating that there is a lack of qualified applicants to meet the needs of the armed services.”

Sessions has repeatedly said that Republicans should maintain their focus on helping Americans struggling to find jobs and work their way up the economic ladder, rather than facilitating a flood of new immigrant labor.

Head over to Breitbart News to read the full piece.

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4 years ago

Top 8 quotes from Sessions’ immigration stemwinder on the Senate floor

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., took to the floor of the United States Senate on Thursday and delivered one of his most passionate speeches yet in defense of the rule of law with regard to America’s immigration policies.

Sessions isn’t a newcomer to holding court on the floor of The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. As a matter of fact, even though Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul got more attention in 2013 for their senate talkathons, Sen. Sessions actually clocked the most hours of talk time on the floor over the last 12 months — even surpassing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who opens and closes each session.

Senate Bar Graph

On Thursday, it was less about the length of Sessions’ remarks, and more about the pointed rhetoric he was utilizing to eviscerate the Obama Administration’s complete lack of enforcement when it comes to the nation’s immigration laws.

The full five-and-a-half minute video is well worth your time and can be viewed above, but here is a lightly edited transcript of Sessions’ remarks, with the top 8 quotes numbered and highlighted.

YH Jeff Sessions 1

So this is open borders. If you get past the border, get into the interior, you go to St. Louis, go to Salt Lake City, you got to Little Rock, Arkansas, then you can just stay. That cannot be the policy of the United States of America. 1. It just cannot be the policy of a nation who expects its laws to be respected that if you can get past the border, or if you can get a visa into the country and overstay, nobody is going to have any intention of removing you or enforcing the agreement you made.

Attorney General Holder and Cecilia Muñoz, who’s the president’s policy person on immigration… they’ve described amnesty as a civil right. 2. So you come into the country illegally and the Attorney General of the United States declares that these individuals have a civil right to amnesty. How can this possibly be the chief law enforcement officer in America?

3. Vice President Biden recently said, ‘You know, 11 million people live in the shadows. I believe they’re already American citizens.’ 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans? Goodness! The Vice President of the United States would make such a statement? It’s stunning beyond belief.

YH Jeff Sessions 2

Apparently somebody whose visa is up and they were due to get on an airplane yesterday, and they read the Vice President’s statement and say, ‘Well, I’ll just stay. Why would I go back now? I kind of like this place. If I go back I’ll have to wait in line. I’ll have to compete within the system like everybody else who comes lawfully. But I’m here, I’m just not going to leave.’ Is it any wonder why we have more people staying?

4. We’ll just ignore the law when there’s a company down the street in an area of high unemployment and they’ve got five employees working illegally. Those would not be removed. They would be allowed to stay and just continue to work unlawfully. And Americans who can’t get a job would be drawing unemployment insurance or other subsidies. This is happening all over America.

More than two-thirds of all ICE removals last year were border apprehensions… 5. 94 percent of the people removed last year were either apprehended at the border, which is not a true deportation, or were convicted of a crime while in the United States. Do you hear that, colleagues? 94 percent of the people removed were either captured at the border, or had committed a serious crime. And most of the rest were repeat violators or fugitives who had been arrested on a fugitive warrant.

6. So, 99.9 percent of the 12 million illegal immigrants and visa overstays without known crimes on their record, including those fleeing from authorities, did not face removal last year.

YH Jeff Sessions

7. If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero. It’s just not going to happen. Now that’s the truth. I was a federal prosecutor. I know how the system works. I’ve worked with ICE officers and border patrol officers and prosecuted their cases. This is what the reality is.

If an individual has false documents, which is a felony for American citizens, that doesn’t count as a deportable crime. It’s only a drug dealing or a crime of violence or some robbery under the policies that we’re carrying out. 8. So it just goes to show that our law enforcement system is in a state of collapse. It’s a deliberate plan by the President of the United States and it’s wrong. And people need to be aware of it and need to stand up to it, and I think the American people are beginning to do so.

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4 years ago

Roby: US Military has been ‘cut to the bone’ by Democrats

Rep. Martha Roby, R-AL02, today called on Senate Democrats to abandon what she described as a “misguided” plan to divert defense spending to fund aid to Ukraine and reform the United States’ relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It is absolutely senseless to strip funding from the U.S. Military and send it overseas to prop up the IMF. I agree that we must stand strong in support of the Ukrainian people, and that’s why the House passed a simple, responsible package that uses funding already allocated for diplomatic purposes.

Our military has already been cut to the bone. The additional cuts proposed by Senate Democrats would further inhibit our readiness and send the wrong message internationally.

Now is a time for the United States to project strength in the world, not further erode our military capabilities. I urge Senate Democrats to abandon this misguided plan and work together with the House in a bi-partisan manner to provide responsible assistance to Ukraine.

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a Ukrainian aid bill, H.R. 4152, that would provide loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government. The House bill does not appropriate new funds, but instead redirects existing funding from within State Department.

RELATED: Alabama native becoming known in D.C. as State Department’s ‘digital diplomat’

A separate Ukraine aid package passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday includes an additional provision taking $157.5 million from the Department of Defense to pay for reorganizing the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The House passed its Ukraine aid bill last Thursday by a vote of 385 to 23.

Roby’s comments come only a day after her House colleague Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL05, issued a strongly worded statement saying he was “flabbergasted” by the idea of dolling out cash to Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund while slashing defense spending at home.

“Further cuts to national security, on top of the cuts imposed by sequestration and the Budget Control Act, embolden Russia’s Vladimir Putin and America’s other geo-political foes while making America weaker,” Brooks said.

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4 years ago

Sessions to Obama’s budget director: ‘This is the way a nation goes broke!’

President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget blueprint on Tuesday, a plan which Democrats said would build on the debt ceiling compromise they made with Republicans last year.

“This budget adheres to the spending principles members of both Houses of Congress have already agreed to,” President Obama said on Tuesday.

But as budget analysts began digging into plan, it became abundantly clear that President Obama completely disregarded the spending limits Congress agreed to in a debt ceiling deal just ten weeks ago.

President Obama’s budget “lays waste to the spending caps that the White House and Congress agreed to late last year,” the Associated Press stated plainly.

“In the next year alone, the plan would increase spending by $56 billion above the statutory caps, and the total 10-year spending breach would be $791 billion — all funded by a massive proposed tax increase,” Fox News added.

So when Obama’s Budget Director Sylvia Burwell testified before the Senate Budget Committee Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the panel, pressed her to admit that the Obama Administration is indeed shattering through the previously agreed upon spending caps.

“The question is, do you spend more than was agreed to in the spending limits of the Ryan-Murray bill?” Sessions asked.

But Burwell absolutely refused to directly answer the question for several minutes as Sessions asked her again and again.

“I will answer it,” an exasperated Sessions finally said. “The answer is that you’re asking us to raise the spending limits by changing the Ryan-Murray law so you can spend even more than you agreed to spend 10 weeks ago. This is the way a nation goes broke!”

Watch the video of the exchange above.

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4 years ago

Heritage Foundation hails Sessions as ‘Senator who most vigorously opposed amnesty’

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

At the height of the debate over the so-called Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill last May, Yahoo! News published an article in their “Power Players” section titled “Sen. Jeff Sessions almost single-handedly trying to derail ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill.”

Although he wasn’t able to stop it in the Senate, the consistent pressure he put on House Republicans to hold the line was a major factor in getting the bill bogged down in the lower chamber.

And that wasn’t his first rodeo.

“Many blame [Sessions] for the defeat of the last immigration reform bill in 2008,” Yahoo! News noted.

But last week, House Republican leadership released a new blueprint for immigration reform.

Sessions immediately sprang into action.

Once again, we have the same recycled talking points—crafted, it would appear, with the help of the same consultants and special interests. Each time, the talking points are followed by legislation that fails to match the promises — legislation that, at bottom, ensures only the amnesty and not the enforcement. The leadership talking points look like an attempted repackaging of the tired Gang-of-Eight-style formula that has been proposed, rejected, and re-proposed for years. It is no surprise then that Senator Schumer and former Speaker Pelosi are so encouraged by these developments. But while Democrat leaders and interest groups appear satisfied, this document was not voted upon by the GOP conference and clearly does not represent the consensus of Republican members. Is it not time we pushed aside the stale proposals stitched together in concert with the same lobbyists, and asked what is in the best interests of the hardworking American citizen—and the nation?

With that kind of rhetoric being aimed at members of the Washington establishment in both parties, it’s no wonder that conservatives around the country are starting to realize what we here in Alabama have known for a long time — Sen. Sessions is one of us.

#SESSIONS2016: Here’s an idea for the 2017 State of the Union Address

Over the weekend, James Carafano of The Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s top experts on defense and homeland security, wrote a piece for The Washington Examiner praising Sen. Sessions for his efforts.

“In person Sessions doesn’t look like the bill-slayer type,” Carafano wrote. “Polite and affable, he comes across as a perpetual ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ rather than a bulldog. Yet over the years, Sessions has proved to be very serious about some very serious issues. He hates higher taxes, has no use for Obamacare, and has a passion for providing for the common defense.”

The Heritage Foundation scholar noted that Sessions’ decision to get so far out in front on the immigration issue has made him a favorite target of leftwing bloggers and TV personalities like Rachel Maddow.

“But, Sessions doesn’t back off,” Carafano proclaimed. “One might wonder why he picked an explosive issue like immigration for his lonely crusade. But the impetus for his determined stand is clear: a total commitment to the rule of law. Before running for the U.S. Senate, he served as both a federal prosecutor and state attorney general. After serving as a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Ronald Reagan nominated him for a federal judgeship, but later withdrew it in the face of Democratic opposition. Sessions’ entire professional career has been shaped by the belief that impartial justice is the glue that holds a free society together.”

“In the end, Congress may do the right thing and put the principle of rule-of-law above a politically-driven amnesty,” Carafano concluded optimistically. “If that happens, no one will deserve more credit than the not so quiet lion from Alabama.”

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