The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

Byrne: Impeachment is nothing to smile about

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne, White House/Facebook, YouTube)

For three years now, the American people have been forced to endure the efforts by Democrats and the liberal mainstream media to impeach President Trump and remove him from office in the face of his clear electoral victory in 2016. They have tried everything, from a needless special prosecutor investigation, which resulted in nothing, to an Adam Schiff-coached whistleblower who admitted he had no firsthand information and relied on news articles by that same liberal media.

The farce produced just two articles of impeachment, neither of which alleges “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” as required by the Constitution. An unprecedented and totally partisan process in the House produced nothing that Democrats could even allege is impeachable.

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Then Nancy Pelosi, after insisting for weeks that impeachment couldn’t wait and had to be done by Christmas, held onto the articles, refusing to send them to the Senate as is required. This prolonged the spotlight on her, as the ever-worshipful liberal media gushed over her political brilliance, ignoring the inconvenient fact that her strategy of forcing the Senate to adopt her preferred process for the trial completely failed.

The Constitution is clear. While the House has “the sole Power of Impeachments,” the Senate has “the sole Power to try Impeachments.” And the Constitution clearly states that each house of Congress sets its own rules. Pelosi had no right or power to dictate trial rules to the Senate. Her behavior was unconstitutional and brought embarrassment and dishonor on the House. So, I filed a resolution censoring the speaker for her inappropriate behavior.

Finally, last week as Democrats began to abandon Pelosi’s position, she relented, and the House appointed seven “managers” to present the House’s articles and “case” to the Senate. Led by Schiff, who literally made-up words for the transcript of President Trump’s call to the President of Ukraine in his first day of impeachment “hearings,” and by the bumbling and incompetent Jerry Nadler, the House managers will finally have to behave according to the rules of a truly fair process, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the competent John Roberts, who will tolerate none of the misbehavior the Democrats repeatedly engaged in as this mess moved through the House.

Pelosi couldn’t stand to lose her spotlight, and, in one last shameful act, had a “signing ceremony” where she and other Democrats smiled and laughed as she pronounced President Trump “impeached forever” and handed out pens. Even some of her adoring fans in the liberal media said she went too far.

What now? The Senate will meet every day except for Sundays beginning at 1:00 p.m. Every senator must attend. They cannot talk or bring electronic devices. They will initially hear the House managers’ “case” for the articles of impeachment, and then the president’s lawyers will finally be allowed to present his case. Be prepared for the House managers to be longwinded and ineffective. Be prepared for the president’s team to be briefer and speak clearly to the essential points of weakness in the articles. Then senators will be allowed to ask questions through Chief Justice Roberts.

What happens next is unclear. Will the Senate dismiss the articles? Will they acquit the president? Will they unnecessarily delay things further by calling witnesses? We don’t know.

But, we do know that not a single Republican voted for these articles in the House and even a few Democrats voted against them. One Democrat changed parties over the vote. We also know there are not nearly enough senators to meet the two-thirds threshold to remove President Trump from office. And we know this will have all been a complete waste of time.

This fall, in the general election, the American people will finally have their say, as the framers of our Constitution intended. I predict Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler won’t be smiling.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: More important than ever to fight for the Second Amendment

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

Once again, the radical left has taken things too far. Recently, the Virginia legislature voted to put unconstitutional restrictions on law abiding citizens regarding the right to bear arms. These new laws go directly against the Second Amendment, which unequivocally guarantees this right.

Don’t be fooled: while the fight today is in Virginia, that doesn’t mean our Second Amendment rights are safe here. Any attempt to restrict the Second Amendment will have consequences across the country. If we let the radical Left get away with this, they will try this at the federal level next.

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The Constitution couldn’t be clearer when it comes to the Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” There are no qualifiers or restrictions in that statement. The Second Amendment is straightforward and crystal clear.

This is about more than just the rights of gun owners. This is about defending the Constitution against attacks from those who wish to rewrite our laws, destroy our values and fundamentally transform our country.

Our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they were able to see the steps that Virginia’s Democrat politicians have taken to restrict freedom. Now more than ever, freedom loving Americans across the nation have to remain vigilant and push back against policies that threaten our God-given, inalienable rights.

The Declaration of Independence makes it clear that our rights come from God, our creator. The government was intended to protect the rights that were gifted from God, not place restrictions on our rights.

As a gun owner myself, I have always fought to protect the Second Amendment. I have consistently voted for concealed carry reciprocity, to make sure that Americans are able to carry their firearm across state lines. I’ve voted to protect the right to carry on federal lands, which is incredibly important for hunters and outdoorsmen. I’ve also strongly advocated to end restrictions against carrying a gun on military bases. It is ridiculous to think that American service members trained in the defense of their nation cannot defend themselves on their own bases.

Last year, I led some of my conservative colleagues in supporting the Second Amendment during a major Supreme Court case against the City of New York. The liberals in New York City passed grossly overreaching and unconstitutional ordinances infringing on the Second Amendment. It is crucial we continue confirming conservative judges so that we have justices on the bench that will honor their oath and protect the Second Amendment in times like this when are rights are under attack.

It is saddening to see that now, in 2020, the tyranny our forefathers fought against with blood, sweat and tears is returning. Let us be honest with the American people: gun control is not about safety. It is about power. Radical Democratic politicians are attempting to strip power away from the everyday American before our very eyes.

With their latest political games, the radical left is not just attacking gun owners. They are again trying to tear our Constitution and our country apart by growing government and putting more restrictions on law abiding Americans.

It is more important now than ever before that Alabama has a senator who will fight back against the radical left and who will always stand up for the Second Amendment. That’s why I’m running for the Senate: to defend the Constitution and protect our Second Amendment rights.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: With Soleimani dead, the world is safer

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Tasnim News Agency/Wikicommons, YHN)

You may not have known his name, but the most dangerous man in the Middle East has finally received justice for a lifetime of brutality.

Before being taken out by an American airstrike, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was a major general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its extra-military, clandestine Quds Force. He left his stain on this world by organizing, training and leading terrorist groups across the Middle East and beyond.

The blood on his hands included that of at least 600 Americans and thousands more.

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Consider the scope of his activities. Soleimani attacked Americans in Afghanistan. His forces were active throughout Iraq. He armed Hezbollah with rockets that have indiscriminately killed women and children in Israel. He attempted attacks in Europe against our allies. He even planned at least one failed bombing in our nation’s capital.

To put it simply, he was a terror mastermind. Taking Soleimani off the battlefield leaves a gaping hole in the Iranian regime’s ability to orchestrate terrorist activities throughout the Middle East. Make no mistake, the Middle East, and the entire world, is safer without him.

We can’t be naive. The evil Iranian regime’s goal is to destroy the West and its way of life, no matter the cost. Soleimani and the government of Iran have never had any intention of adhering to any global norms or abiding by any treaties.

That’s why policies of appeasement towards Iran are misguided and dangerous. The Obama-era Iranian deal was, at best, an empty public relations victory for the Obama administration that did little to slow down Iran’s public support for global terrorism and quest towards its goal of securing nuclear capabilities. In reality, as we pumped up their economy with billions in cash and sanctions relief, Iran never wavered. With international scrutiny relaxed, Iran successfully took their operations underground. Iran continued and even escalated its proxy support of terrorist groups while the Iranian deal was in place. And Soleimani was the unquestioned leader.

Unlike the previous President who drew a “red line” regarding Assad’s evil Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, President Trump means what he says. He made clear that any Iranian attack on Americans would be punished. The killing of Soleimani came just days after his proxies attacked our embassy in Baghdad and a military base in Kenya that resulted in the loss of an American life.

President Obama may have capitulated in Syria, but global terrorists and the regimes who support them now know with certainty that President Trump does not make idle threats. He will act decisively to defend Americans and our interests around the world. After two face-saving attacks from Iran in the region that took no American lives, the Iranian regime appears to be wisely deescalating their aggression.

Last week, House Democrats introduced a War Powers Resolution designed to discredit President Trump for using his constitutional powers to eliminate Soleimani. It is disappointing that when Congress should be showing national resolve and unity against an evil Iranian regime, Democrats are playing politics. Last week, I received a classified briefing from national security officials that made clear the continued threat Soleimani posed to Americans. We should be thanking the president and the brave men and women who successfully carried out this attack, not engaging in political grandstanding.

The evil Iranian regime is growing weaker at home. President Trump’s sanctions are continuing to damage Iran’s economy. Iranians are protesting in the streets, shouting “death to the dictator!” After President Trump’s show of American strength, the Iranian government can’t risk further antagonizing the United States. Their leaders would be wise to continue their de-escalation.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Fighting the swamp spending culture

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

The national debt of our country now stands at a staggering $23 trillion. By failing to act, we are placing an unearned and undeserved burden on our children and grandchildren. That is why I voted no when Speaker Pelosi rammed the $1.4 trillion 2020 spending bills through Congress in December.

We are spending too much money in the funding bills that Congress passes every year. But, these annual bills that get so much attention are just a part of the problem.

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Most Americans do not know that around 61% of federal spending is on autopilot. Another 8% is spent on interest on the debt. That leaves just over 30% of federal spending for Congress to actually control each year. In 2020, the federal government will spend $4.826 trillion dollars, and $2.962 trillion of that will go out the door in the form of mandatory spending without Congress ever taking a vote on it. Unless Congress acts, the mandatory spending number will only grow larger with time.

As long as certain requirements are met, these mandatory spending programs receive money almost automatically. This is contrary to what our founding fathers envisioned when they gave Congress the power of the purse and allows Congress to have a convenient excuse to duck hard spending choices.

Within mandatory spending are many entitlement programs that we are wasting billions of dollars on and that are in desperate need of reform. These include programs like Medicaid, Disability, Obamacare, Food Stamps and other welfare programs.

With spending for these programs on autopilot – and rising every year – the incentive to pursue new reforms and innovations to more responsibly spend taxpayer money is not there. Once mandatory spending programs are established, there can be very little future accountability for their operation.

For example, in 2009 during the Great Recession, the federal government spent $59 billion on food stamps. At the time, this was a record-breaking number, a 41% increase, but it was supposed to go down as the economy improved and we got over the financial crisis. Unbelievably, during the best economy in years, we will spend $63 billion in 2020 on food stamps! These are dollars that could go towards important priorities such as increasing our military readiness or reducing the national debt. Yet, Congress has ceded control of them and the spending continues to rise.

Until we address the inherent problems with mandatory spending, our progress towards increasing spending accountability will be limited. That is why I have introduced H.R. 5538, the Mandatory Spending Control and Accountability Act. My bill would end all autopilot spending other than the Social Security retirement program, Medicare, TRICARE and VA Benefits. That reduces mandatory spending to a manageable 35% of the federal budget and limits autopilot spending to just programs people have earned through their work or service to our country.

Making programs like Obamacare and food stamps subject to the annual Congressional spending process will make Congress more accountable for those dollars. It will give us new sources to cut to reduce the deficit or to reprogram for priorities like protecting our national defense or job training without having to borrow new money.

Most importantly, it’s just common sense. Imagine if your family had a serious credit card problem, but you consistently tried to fix it by only changing 30% of your spending. You probably would not get very far, just like Congress hasn’t over the years.

I take seriously the responsibility to be a wise steward of your tax dollars. My bill won’t do everything to fix our debt and deficit, but it is an important start. I will continue fighting against the swamp culture that resists making tough decisions on spending, and I will continue working towards spending your money responsibly.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: 2019 — A year in review

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

At this time last year, I predicted that the upcoming year with a Democrat majority in the House would be much different. While most activity in the House centered around efforts to impeach our president, I did not let that stop me from fighting for you and our state.

One of our most significant victories this year for Alabama was reforming the Medicare wage index formula. For three decades, hospitals in rural states like Alabama have been underpaid in Medicare reimbursements. Upon taking office, I began fighting for a fix.

With the election of President Trump, I found that we had an administration willing to listen and work with us, and as a result, Alabama’s hospitals have begun receiving significantly higher Medicare reimbursements. In the past, these dollars were siphoned off towards high population areas like New York and Los Angeles at an unfair rate.

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I was also proud to lead the Trump administration’s school choice bill in the House, the Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asked me and Senator Ted Cruz to be their champions in Congress for this Trump policy priority, and support continues growing for our bill.

It was an honor to join President Trump several weeks ago in an education roundtable at the White House and to advocate for providing options for students locked into failing schools.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I’m proud of my record advocating for a strong national defense. This year Congress passed an important National Defense Authorization Act that enables us to rebuild our military readiness after years of stagnation in the Obama administration.

The bill allows for continued counter drug enforcement at our border, accelerates programs to counter Chinese and Russian aggression, and authorizes important bipartisan nuclear modernization programs. It also gives our troops the largest pay raise in a decade, repeals the widow’s tax, and establishes the Space Force.

Sadly, our Second Amendment rights are under assault like no time in our history. I was proud to lead 120 of my colleagues in filing a brief before the Supreme Court in support of protecting these fundamental American rights.

The case, N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, will determine if New York’s ban on transporting a handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is constitutional. Our Constitution is clear that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed, and I am glad to have had so much support from my colleagues in taking a stand against these radical efforts to take away our gun rights.

Finally, just weeks ago, the House passed President Trump’s USMCA trade deal to replace NAFTA. Our state stands to benefit significantly, particularly our automobile manufacturing and agriculture sectors as well as steel, energy and high-tech. The USMCA is projected to create 176,000 new American jobs and raise our GDP by $68.2 billion. We will reap benefits from this deal for years to come.

Of course, I continued holding constituent town halls throughout Southwest Alabama, and I have now held over 125 since taking office. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate everyone who has participated over the years. We have a great state full of amazing people, and I am glad to be among the leaders in Congress in the number of town halls held.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Congress. I will continue fighting for you in 2020.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Bradley Byrne: Reflecting the light of the world

(Wikicommons, YHN)

The first chapter of John’s gospel tells us “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

It often seems as if we live in a dark world, doesn’t it? Evil lurks all around us and too often bad things happen to good people. Falsehoods are accepted above truth and reality distorted to unreality. We value the cheap and empty things of the world and disvalue the truly worthy things.

It’s easy to be discouraged and disappointed to the point of becoming cynical.

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But that is not the Christmas story, is it? God so loved the world that he became one of us. He literally lowered himself to become a part of His own creation and for the sole purpose of saving us. The babe in the manger became the tortured man dying on the cross – for us.

He experienced hate and rejection, betrayal and estrangement, pain and death. All for us.

What kind of a God does that? A God who only wants one thing: love. That’s why John talks about light in a dark world, a light which cannot be overcome. The Song of Solomon says that love is strong as death. In Jesus, love was actually stronger than death.

So, in the midst of this dark world, as we deal with the difficulties of life, we need to go back to Bethlehem and hear the songs of angels, see the gifts of kings, feel the love of a young mother and adore the divine baby. We need to go and find the light out there in the darkness. It’s there shining brightly and waiting for us to just believe.

This has been a hard year and we ended it in Washington on the sad and avoidable note of the impeachment of a sitting president. I’ve repeatedly made my position on that issue clear, but the fact of the vote and the way in which it was handled was a big disappointment. The nation is worse off and for nothing at all.

Yet, I believe in our country, in our Constitution and in the ultimate goodness of our people. We have come through so much over our history and triumphed every time. We will do so again.

That’s not me being trite. I really do believe it, because we are what Jesus meant when He talked about the city set on the hill, the lamp that belongs on a stand. And we will continue so long as we reflect the Light of the world in the darkness around us.

This Christmas, I hope you will make the most out of quality time with family. Dust off an old photo album or board game. Tell the Christmas story to young children. Ride around the neighborhood and look at Christmas decorations. Never miss an opportunity to share God’s love, to reflect the Light of the world in the darkness around us.

There is so much to be grateful for, and I hope you will think about all the ways you have been blessed.

May God bless and keep you and your family this Christmas season and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Answering the call – Fighting a phony impeachment

(WH, Hillary for America, Nancy Pelosi/Flickr, Adam Schiff, Joe Biden/Facebook, YHN)

This year, Democrats finally did what they have wanted to do since November 2016 – move to impeach President Donald Trump. This plan was politically motivated from the beginning, and I decided to lead the fight against it.

This initial investigation into Donald Trump should never have begun in the first place. During the Obama presidency, partisan government officials abused their power and used a phony dossier paid for by Democrat political operatives to justify the investigation.

How could they run a phony investigation into then-candidate Trump while giving Secretary Hillary Clinton a pass on her many clear violations of the law?

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I introduced a bill called the Investigate the Investigators Act to get the answers the American people deserve. This bill would enable the Department of Justice to determine what President Obama and his administration knew and when they knew it and why numerous questionable decisions were made in 2016 and beyond.

As expected, Pelosi had no interest in bringing to light answers that could undermine her impeachment scheme.

One of the key facets of her plan was to hold proceedings in the House Intelligence Committee instead of the Judiciary Committee. The Intelligence Committee is one of the House’s smallest committees, where the Speaker essentially handpicks its members.

Pelosi had a ready-made impeachment team loyal to her, led by Chairman Adam Schiff.

Another characteristic of the Intelligence Committee is that it often examines classified material and has wide latitude to hold secret hearings to protect classified information.

Schiff and Pelosi abused this to hold hearings in a classified meeting room called a SCIF, deep in the basement of the Capitol where the public and press could not access the facts.

Even though the information they reviewed was not classified, the public was kept out.

Several of my colleagues and I had enough. We entered the SCIF to observe the proceedings as we should be entitled to do as the people’s representatives.

Amazingly, Adam Schiff shut down the hearings. But we kept up the pressure. Eventually, Democrats agreed to release their secret transcripts.

Let’s not forget what started this whole Ukraine mess – Hunter Biden’s shady foreign business dealings.

While Hunter’s dad, Joe, was Vice President of the United States, Hunter was making lucrative deals in countries like Ukraine and China.

In Ukraine, where his dad was leading U.S. foreign policy efforts, Hunter was serving on the board of a sketchy energy company called Burisma Holdings.

In the past, Joe Biden has bragged openly about successfully pressuring the Ukrainian government to remove Ukraine’s top prosecutor or risk losing United States assistance. That same prosecutor was allegedly investigating Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden sat at the time!

President Trump recognized the importance of rooting out corruption in a country to which we give millions of dollars in foreign aid, and he was totally justified in being skeptical of a new administration in a notoriously corrupt country.

If the same facts in the Biden case occurred with someone named Trump or Byrne, Democrats would have already launched a full-scale investigation. I decided to expose this hypocrisy.

In October, I introduced a House resolution calling for an investigation into the Bidens’ shady business dealings. Democrats will not consider it. The fact that they are continuing their sham Trump investigation while ignoring the real Biden scandal reveals their political motivations.

Throughout this investigation, I’ve continued to lead the charge against Democrats’ phony charges and hypocrisy. Democrats will not let up working to remove President Trump from office, even after he is acquitted by the Senate. You can rest assured I will continue to be a strong leader in the fight to protect President Trump.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Empowering Alabama with education opportunities

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

Education is an amazing tool. It can transform the lives of both the young and old. A quality education empowers the powerless and provides opportunities in otherwise bleak circumstances. It can provide a path out of poverty.

I think of Abraham Lincoln, who famously walked miles to borrow books from neighboring towns and farms. Despite being poor, he used what little money he made from farm chores and labor to buy candles. He spent many long nights reading books by dim candlelight to achieve the life he wanted for himself.

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Lincoln used his hard-earned education from dogeared textbooks and candlelight to become a country lawyer, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and President of the United States. Today, he is remembered and revered as one of the greatest Americans of any generation.

Of course, the absence of opportunity for a quality education can be devastating. Those without the means to be educated often have difficulty determining a pathway for a productive life. The temptation to fall into crime to escape can be strong, even overwhelming.

I’ve seen these challenges firsthand in Alabama. As a former member of the Alabama Board of Education, I’ve discussed the downside of lack of quality education options with teachers and administrators, parents and students. These are not merely academic issues. They have a real, direct impact on lives.

As chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, I saw what can happen when students get stuck in a system that does not prioritize the wellbeing of its students. Immediately upon taking over, I cracked down to remove corruption and install reform-minded leadership throughout our state. Many of those leaders are still in place, and our two-year and technical colleges are among the best in the nation.

I’m proud to have played a role in ensuring the promise of a quality education to so many Alabamians who wanted the opportunity to gain a career and comfortably put food on their table through education. Offering that opportunity has been a passion throughout my career.

That’s why I was delighted when earlier this year the Trump administration asked me to lead their school choice bill in the House. President Trump has prioritized empowering American students through education, and the opportunity to work with him and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on such a critical issue was exciting.

Working closely with Secretary DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz, who is carrying our legislation in the Senate, we developed the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. This bill creates a non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses to state-identified nonprofits called Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs), a program that has already been used successfully in Alabama.

The Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act also provides for the granting of scholarships to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, from advanced or remedial courses to private and home schooling to career and technical education opportunities. The bottom line is this bill increases opportunities for families to make informed decisions that work for them and their individual needs.

Importantly, our bill allows states to control their SGO programs, not the federal government. As someone who has spent a career in education, I can promise you that the more we allow education decisions to be made at the family and local level, the better off students will be.

I’m thankful to President Trump for his trust in allowing me to shepherd his education legislative priority in the House, and I am hopeful that both parties can fully get behind this legislation to empower our students and their families to make the education decisions right for them.

Working together, we can give students the educational opportunities they deserve. And they won’t even have to study by candlelight.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Impeachment lessons from the distant past

(WH/Flickr, Wikicommons, YHN)

The first true test of the legislative branch’s impeachment powers occurred over two centuries ago in 1805. Its parallels with the current impeachment process, and the important precedent it set for determining impeachable conduct, make it worth examining today.

That long-ago impeachment battle was waged against Samuel Chase of Maryland, a justice of the United States Supreme Court. The episode is a stern warning against the use of the power of impeachment for political purposes.

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson resoundingly won reelection, and his Democratic-Republican party won large majorities in both the House and the Senate. With his control over the executive and legislative branches secure, Jefferson looked to the third branch – the judiciary.

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The Supreme Court, comprised at that time of only seven justices, consisted primarily of appointees of George Washington and John Adams, both members of the opposing Federalist Party. Jefferson had been angered by several Supreme Court rulings and considered the court an obstacle to his political agenda. He resolved to remove that obstacle.

Jefferson saw Chase, an unabashed Federalist appointed by Washington, as the justice most vulnerable to being removed by a partisan impeachment. Jefferson and his allies blamed Chase’s partisanship for several of his rulings against Jefferson. They claimed this conduct was worthy of impeachment.

However, what some of Chase’s opponents considered “judicial excesses” weren’t the real issue. Chase’s partisan leanings were merely a convenient excuse to eliminate an obstacle to the Democratic-Republicans’ unchecked political power.

Our Founders warned against falling into the trap of impeachment over partisan squabbles. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton warned of the “danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” Therefore, the Constitution makes clear that the only impeachable offenses are “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Did this disagreement on policy grounds rise to an impeachable offense?

Nevertheless, with Jefferson’s directive, the House impeached Justice Chase on a party-line vote in a partisan show eerily reminiscent of today’s episode.

It would be in the Senate, where Chase’s trial was to take place, where the Democratic-Republicans’ political motivations would come to a head with the Founders’ intentions.

Some partisans would ignore the intent of our Founders. Senator William Giles of Virginia said impeachment is “nothing more than enquiry, by the two Houses of Congress, whether the office of any public official might not be better filled by another.”

Of course, that contradicts what the Constitution clearly says about impeachment.

Yet Chase’s opponents would leave no stone unturned in seeking a charge to stick as an impeachable offense. One of his defenders said Chase’s “footsteps are hunted from place to place, to find indiscretions, which may be exaggerated into crimes.”

Does this sound familiar?

Those Senators were keenly aware of the important precedent at stake. Most realized that whatever short-term political gains they might achieve would pale in comparison to the lasting detriment to our young nation if the Constitution and its separation of powers were to be undermined.

Ultimately, after great deliberation, the Senate acquitted Chase, even with the Senate’s 24 Democratic-Republicans outnumbering its nine Federalists.

Despite lacking evidence of an impeachable offense, Democrats have gone too far towards impeaching President Trump to turn back. Never mind that only months ago, Speaker Pelosi said “impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country.”

Just like in 1805, one party seeks impeachment to gain political power. This time, a president is targeted. This poses a great threat to our Republic, and I’ll continue fighting hard to stop this scheme and protect our Constitution.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Much to be thankful for

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

As the year draws to a close and we enter another holiday season, I’m reminded we have much to be thankful for.

First, I’m thankful for those who answer the call to service at home and abroad.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the never-ending news coverage of political squabbles, but the men and women of our military are doing extraordinary things to keep global threats at bay.

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Our country remains the freest nation in the world because of their sacrifices.

Imagine for a moment living in the volatile Middle East, or in Hong Kong in an escalating battle against China for basic rights, or under an oppressive regime like North Korea. Think of how fortunate we are not only for our military but our system of government!

Just recently, our military scored a major victory by taking out the top ISIS commander. The American people are safer as a result of their courage and incredible work and planning.

Earlier this year, I visited our Southern border with Mexico. During this eye-opening visit, I gained a new appreciation for the work our law enforcement agencies and military are doing to stem the tide of drugs, human traffickers and other criminals crossing into our country.

And in a world full of danger, our law enforcement keeps our communities safe. Last week, we were tragically reminded of the very real danger our law enforcement officers face every day when Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams was killed in the line of duty.

We should thank God each day for our military, veterans and law enforcement officers. This great American experiment could not proceed without the daily sacrifices of those like Sheriff Williams. The remembrances and kind words pouring in from across the state have been incredibly moving.

I’m thankful for my brother Dale. My brother retired from the Alabama National Guard as a command sergeant major. I think of Dale and his selflessness in serving our nation every day.

This Spring, I was afforded the opportunity to speak at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens. In a speech titled “what does it mean to be an American?” I discussed the great gifts, and responsibilities, of our representative democracy. It was a treasured experience and poignant reminder of how thankful we should be for this nation.

I’m thankful for the state of Alabama, its wonderful people and the opportunity to serve you in Washington. It is a blessing and an honor to represent you in our nation’s capital, and I do not take it lightly.

I could not serve without my dedicated staff who care deeply for our country and the people we serve. I’m thankful for their commitment to the people of Southwest Alabama.

Little is more important than family, and I have been blessed beyond measure by mine. My wife Rebecca is an amazing woman, and we are so proud of our children. I’m thankful for the opportunity Rebecca and I have gained in recent years to spoil our grandchildren!

I’m thankful for the fall season, the changing leaves in Alabama and football. This time of year reminds me of some of my happiest memories hunting with my boys and spending time with family at the farm.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my God. I would not be able to accomplish anything without His constant encouragement and blessings.

Through the seemingly nonstop bustle of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, it’s important to keep the big things big and the little things little. As Philippians 4:6 instructs us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

I pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: The facts about Ukraine

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

With all the allegations being made against President Trump, it’s important to examine some background and facts.

First, let’s talk about what has been going on in Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. Like many former Soviet countries, oligarchs control almost all the political power. Corruption is so rampant that many American business people refuse to operate there.

For nearly 30 years, Republican and Democrat Presidents have pressured Ukraine to reform without much success. Part of that outreach was aimed at preventing Russia from gaining influence there.

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But five years ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, and the two countries have been at war ever since. After the invasion, President Obama rightly began providing them non-lethal aide. But to maintain goodwill with the Russians, he would not sell them weapons.

Now let’s move to 2016. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump ran on a deep skepticism of foreign aid. Partly as a result, senior members of the Ukrainian government took Secretary Clinton’s side.

After his victory, Ukrainian officials scrambled to make amends with President Trump.

Despite President Trump’s understandable skepticism towards Ukraine, he pursued policies towards Ukraine that began leading to progress. He began selling real weapons to Ukraine to help them fight the Russians, with enormous positive effects.

However, a few individuals in the administration tried to convince President Trump he should forget Ukraine’s past and immediately embrace its new president. They began, in their own words, working to change President Trump’s mind.

It was office gossip among a handful of these individuals that led to the impeachment investigation.

The drama started with the “whistleblower” (who lacked firsthand knowledge of what he reportedly blew the whistle on) alleging that President Trump made “demands” on President Zelensky on a phone call. He alleged President Trump threatened to withhold security assistance to Ukraine for political favors.

But despite this allegation, President Zelensky has publicly, clearly, and repeatedly denied any demands were ever made on him. And the Justice Department reviewed this allegation and declined to pursue a criminal investigation.

Further, President Trump released the transcript, and it showed that neither person said one word about the hold on that call! You would think that if President Trump were trying to use the aid for extortion, he would have at least mentioned it.

President Zelensky did not mention the funds either because he did not know they were on hold and, as the transcript confirms, President Trump never told him! If that is the case, this would be a very strange quid pro quo indeed.

Let’s use common sense here. With President Trump’s clear skepticism of foreign aid and Ukraine’s reputation for corruption, is it surprising his Administration would want to review millions in aid to a new Ukrainian President and parliament?

In contradiction to the bureaucratic gossip fueling this latest Democrat impeachment fantasy, not one person has testified that they had any direct knowledge that President Trump ordered aid held in exchange for a political favor. Witnesses have speculated about the reason for the hold, but when pressed, they’ve all said some version of “I don’t know.”

Despite this sham process, we have no evidence that President Trump ordered any kind of quid pro quo. The Ukrainians got the aid money, within days of even finding out it was on hold, and they got the meetings with President Trump and the vice president that they wanted.

There is no impeachable offense here, but most Democrats know that. This is all about defeating President Trump in the 2020 election, but I think their efforts will backfire as the American people learn the truth.

Armed with the facts, I won’t quit fighting against this sham impeachment scheme.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Serious about corruption? Investigate the Bidens

(Wikicommons, Bradley Byrne/Facebook, YHN)

Speaker Pelosi, Adam Schiff and their Democratic colleagues have spent countless hours and taxpayer dollars to find evidence that President Trump was involved in corruption. At the same time, Democrats refuse to even consider the fundamental issue at hand – was President Trump right to question the activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine?

Months ago, media reported Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings. But, once impeachment began, the mainstream media moved to kill the story. We’re told nothing to see there. Yet each week, new information continues to emerge demanding a full investigation of the facts.

We know that Hunter Biden essentially made his living as a high-powered lobbyist benefiting from his father’s career as a senator and vice president.

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When Joe was elected vice president, Hunter claimed to leave lobbying, but really he just shifted his game. He formed a series of companies with Christopher Heinz, the stepson of Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and later Secretary of State John Kerry. These kids, trading on their fathers’ names and political ties, made a pretty powerful combo.

As the New York Times reported, Biden and Heinz pursued multiple foreign business investments “where connections implied political influence and protection.”

These guys closed lucrative deals with China right after Hunter visited China on Air Force II with his father. Importantly, they were working in Ukraine while Joe was leading Ukrainian policy for the U.S to fight corruption.

Ukraine is known for its corruption. A small group of oligarchs holds most political power. Hunter and his company went to work for one of these guys and his notoriously corrupt energy company, Burisma Holdings. Hunter was paid up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board.

We know Hunter knew nothing about energy or Ukraine. But, when you’re dealing with a corrupt country like Ukraine, and the son of the vice president of the United States is involved in a corrupt company, that sends a signal to government officials when considering pursuing investigations.

At the same time, Vice President Biden was threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine unless they fired the prosecutor allegedly looking into Burisma. Senior State Department officials raised concerns about Hunter to the vice president. Yet, the arrangement continued until recently.

The bottom line is that there are serious allegations here, they directly relate to impeachment, and Congress needs to find out what happened. In fact, I introduced H.Res. 631 directing the relevant committees to investigate alleged Biden corruption. Despite having a substantial number of cosponsors, my resolution has been bottled up by Speaker Pelosi.

Last week, Republicans on the Intelligence Committee echoed my resolution, requesting that if Hunter Biden is going to be the basis for impeachment, Congress should get his testimony in the impeachment inquiry. But, Democrats have signaled they won’t allow it. My question is, why?

We know the answer – this is a partisan witch hunt against President Trump. President Trump never once demanded a quid pro quo from President Zelenksy. You can read the transcript yourself. While the Democrats and their allies in the press have trashed President Trump for raising Burisma and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 elections, those are serious issues worthy of investigation.

I am proud to be a leader in the pressure campaign to expose the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ sham process. And I will continue leading the fight to investigate the Bidens and expose real corruption that may exist. If Democrats are serious about exposing corruption, investigating Hunter Biden cannot be ignored.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t win a fight you don’t join. When you fight, good things can happen. That is why I am going to keep fighting, to make sure the truth is out there.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Star Chamber impeachment driven by Trump hatred — not American values

(WH/Flickr)

An abusive, unlawful practice of the English courts from the 15th to 17th centuries was so rampant and unfair that protections against it were written into our U.S. Constitution.

This hated and feared practice took place in the Star Chamber.

The creators of the Star Chamber described it as a tool to stamp out corruption and seek justice for those in English society who were so powerful that no ordinary court would ever find them guilty.

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In practice, it was used to punish political enemies without the constraints of the law or the prying eyes of the public.

Sound familiar?

Our Founding Fathers were keenly aware of the abuses of the English government. They valued the rights of the individual so highly that they included a Bill of Rights – our first 10 amendments – to protect them.

One of the most important, the 5th Amendment, states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The principles of due process and fairness towards the accused are not only enshrined into our Constitution but the very nature of our Republic. These are values held deeply by all Americans.

Unfortunately, in today’s House of Representatives, the Star Chamber is alive and well.

For weeks, secret impeachment proceedings held by Democrats in the basement of the Capitol have deprived President Trump of his due process rights.

Adam Schiff and his cabal of Democrats have monopolized the Intelligence Committee’s power, withholding facts, denying the President the right to participate, and extending the Republican Minority party little more than token rights.

The few Republicans allowed to participate are prohibited by Schiff’s arbitrary rules from detailing to their fellow Republican members – or the Americans they represent – what is going on behind closed doors.

Of course, Schiff and his Democrat staffers have shown no restraint breaking their own rules by leaking cherry-picked, misleading bits of testimony or outright lies.

I’ve had enough of this Star Chamber, and I chose to fight back.

Recently, my colleagues and I walked into the basement room of the Capitol where Schiff is holding his secret hearings. We demanded to watch the proceedings.

Schiff immediately shut them down, even though we only wanted to observe — a right required by House rules and normally extended to all members of Congress.

We may not have gotten to see the hearings, but the American people are beginning to see what’s going on. They are making clear they do not approve. And Democrats have been feeling the heat back home.

Last week, Democrats introduced a resolution supposedly to move forward with formal impeachment proceedings in the public eye. In reality, this resolution validates the Star Chamber proceedings we’ve seen so far and even instructs them to continue!

This resolution was nothing but political cover for Democrats. All Republicans in the House saw through Nancy Pelosi’s resolution and voted against it.

Importantly, two Democrats rejected this deeply flawed process by voting with Republicans.

Yet, Democrats continue taking a phony moral high ground. They insist Republicans only support the President because of a “personality cult for Donald Trump.”

Anyone looking at the facts, including the Democrats who voted against the joke impeachment resolution, know this is absurd.

Just watch five minutes of national mainstream news to see the “anti-Trump personality cult.” Trump Derangement Syndrome is an epidemic. For those who suffer from it, no step is too far, no rule too sacred, to eliminate President Trump. For them, the ends justify the means.

This Star Chamber fundamentally violates the principles of fairness and due process Americans value so dearly. It should never be used against Democrats or Republicans.

This scheme is flat-out un-American, and I won’t stop fighting against it and defending our values.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: To fight impeachment, Republicans must get off the sidelines

(CBS Evening News/YouTube)

For weeks, Democrats have been holding secretive impeachment proceedings behind closed doors, out of sight of the American people.

Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Select Committee on Intelligence has been interviewing witnesses in a restricted area deep beneath the Capitol in a small room called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, known as a SCIF.

The SCIF is specifically designed for classified briefings and other extremely sensitive committee business, not for non-classified witness interviews.

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It shouldn’t be this way.

In the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings, the House held a formal vote to begin. In addition to giving the inquiry legitimacy, the vote outlined the rights not only of the minority but of the accused.

In the Nixon and Clinton impeachment hearings, the respective minority parties were allowed to call witnesses, issue subpoenas, and access hearing information. Additionally, each president and their teams were allowed to participate to ensure fairness and due process.

How can someone defend themselves – in this proceeding or in the mind of the public – if they do not know what those accusing them are even saying?

Nancy Pelosi and Schiff’s reasoning for enacting this scheme is obvious. By locking down impeachment proceedings, Democrats control what information the public receives.

Open hearings have been disastrous for Democrats. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony was an embarrassment. Sometimes the truth hurts!

But by choosing to interview witnesses in a classified room – even though they admit the information is not secret in nature – Democrats hold all the cards.

The public receives only whatever Democrats leak to their media allies. Lies, misinformation, and cherry-picked snippets are all the public – even most members of Congress like myself – can access.

Efforts to impeach a duly-elected president behind closed doors require all Americans to get off the sidelines to end this scheme.

Republicans want to get the truth out. Americans deserve it.

I’ve had enough, and I took action.

Last week, a group of Republicans led by my colleague Matt Gaetz held a press conference outside the entrance to the SCIF to bring attention to the Democrats’ scheme to hide the truth.

After the press conference, leaving the media behind, Republicans entered the restricted area outside the hearing.

Once inside, a staff member informed me I was unable to enter the hearing but would not say why or what rule prohibited me and the Members of Congress with me from entering.

So I led my colleagues in.

Once inside, we quietly and orderly prepared to observe the proceedings. Nonetheless, Democrats were dumbfounded.

Instead of continuing, Schiff shut down the proceeding. Despite me asking him to stay, he walked out of the room!

It is noteworthy how the mainstream media reported our actions.

Without being inside, the media was given free rein to report whatever they wanted with no accountability.

CNN falsely reported I yelled in the face of Adam Schiff. Other fake news outlets mistakenly claimed we refused to turn over our phones, which is not true. I turned over my phone to staff of the Intelligence Committee.

Could there be a better example of why we need to have open impeachment hearings in the public?

Our actions are working. Within hours, after public outcry, Democrats announced a tentative plan to open hearings in several weeks.

However, a vague promise for future transparency isn’t good enough. The public narrative is continuing to be misshaped through leaks and lies.

We must end secret proceedings now. Democrats cannot continue withholding non-classified information from members of Congress and the public.

The American people should be demanding open hearings. You can bet I’ll keep fighting in Washington for an open, fair process so the American people can have the truth. This is too important to sit on the sidelines.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: How do you solve a problem like Syria?

(WH/Flickr, Wikicommons, YHN)

Recent developments in Syria highlight the need for the United States to revisit its broader Middle Eastern policy.

Early last week, I joined a small meeting of House Republicans for an update on Syria from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper where he discussed a phone call from President Erdogan of Turkey to President Trump.

During that call, Erdogan notified President Trump that after years of waiting at the Syrian border, Turkish troops would finally cross over. He assured that Turkey was not coming after our troops but targeting certain Kurdish factions they consider terrorists. He gave President Trump 48 hours to relocate the two dozen or so American troops stationed on the border.

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President Trump was faced with a difficult decision. Ultimately, he decided to remove American servicemembers from harm’s way to prevent a full-blown conflict with Turkey.

Turkey’s incursion into Syria is wrong and very troubling. Erdogan should never treat our president and our country the way he did on the phone call. There will be serious consequences for his behavior.

I support seeking methods of leverage with Turkey that do not endanger our troops.

After President Trump proposed harsh economic sanctions, the administration negotiated a cease-fire with Turkey. The cease-fire has been shaky at best, but it probably prevented many more deaths in the region.

This is happening in the context of a greater strategic problem in the Middle East. For at least a decade, we’ve lacked a well-defined mission. What are our interests in the Middle East? What do we do to pursue and protect those interests?

Since coming to Congress and serving on the House Armed Services Committee, I have not seen a strategic, conventional interest for the U.S. in Syria, other than destroying the ISIS caliphate.

To be sure, Kurdish forces were the largest part of the successful campaign against the caliphate, and we need to stand by them as best we can under these challenging circumstances.

But Syria is a failed state. It is bewildering the number of groups in some form of combat. With so many factions, it is often difficult to know who the good guys are. Problems between the Turks and Kurds will persist for generations, but this dispute is one of many combustible problems in the Middle East today. Just weeks ago, Iran attacked our Saudi Arabian ally.

We need to work with our allies to determine our strategic goals and how to reach them. We should continue providing assistance to our allies, including the Kurds, but progress requires buy-in from all of our allies in the region.

Turkey, as a NATO member, does currently play a role in supporting our alliance goals. Turkey is the home of an important U.S. airbase and many other critical NATO assets including U.S. nuclear weapons.

However, Turkey’s actions cast serious doubts on whether they will honor their NATO commitments going forward, and frank discussions between Trump, Erdogan and other NATO leaders are needed.

We must be tough with Turkey. I still believe strong sanctions to weaken and punish Turkey are needed, and I signed on as an original cosponsor to Liz Cheney’s resolution to impose very tough sanctions.

After the Turkish incursion, I was disappointed that the House hastily put forward a resolution condemning President Trump’s actions without knowing the full facts. The very next day, I received a classified briefing shedding more light on his tough decision. I think everyone in Congress should have access to these classified briefings to gain a fuller understanding of what happened.

Instead of attacking the president, we need to have sincere bipartisan conversations and propose concrete solutions for Syria and the Middle East. On critical national security issues, we must put America first.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Congress must investigate the escalating Biden scandal

(Screenshot/FOX 10)

While Democrats recklessly intensify their partisan scheme to impeach President Trump, the Biden scandal has escalated to a level Congress can no longer responsibly ignore.

As more details come out regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings overseas, their connection with actions taken by his father, Joe Biden, in his official capacity as vice president raise new questions that must be answered.

For example, we have learned that Hunter Biden accompanied his father aboard Air Force Two to China six years ago. Ten days after the trip, Hunter Biden’s new Chinese private equity firm, formed in partnership with the communist government-owned Bank of China, received a license.

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Hunter Biden admitted to meeting with his Chinese partner in the fund during the visit but insists they did not discuss business. That sure doesn’t pass the smell test.

At least one Chinese government-owned company Hunter Biden’s firm later invested in, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, exists primarily to compete with the United States and has a history of stealing American technology.

Think about that. Hunter Biden partnered with the Chinese government in a lucrative business venture whose purpose is to weaken the United States.

We still do not know where else Hunter traveled or who else he met with on this trip.

But Joe Biden may have played an even more direct role in promoting his son’s financial prospects in Ukraine.

Joe Biden has bragged openly about successfully pressuring the Ukrainian government to remove its top prosecutor or risk losing United States assistance. We’ve now learned this prosecutor was investigating Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian company on whose board Hunter Biden sat at the time.

Some reports have Hunter Biden earning as much as $50,000 per month on the board – a hefty salary for someone with almost no experience in foreign policy or business.

Democrats can’t in good faith continue investigating every single action the president has ever taken—many predating his time as a political candidate—while the Biden scandal stares them straight in the face.

But this gets back to the purpose of the Democrats’ impeachment effort. It was never about corruption or any high-minded ideals. Democrat Congressman Al Green told us back in 2017 why Democrats want to impeach President Trump: “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get reelected.”

If the same facts in the Biden case occurred with one of President Trump’s children, Democrats would have already launched a full-scale investigation. We must expose their hypocrisy.

This week I am introducing a House resolution calling for an investigation into the Bidens’ shady business dealings.

This resolution calls for the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Government Reform, and Financial Services to begin investigations of business dealings of Hunter Biden during the period in which his father Joe Biden served as Vice President of the United States, whether those business dealings resulted in improper conflicts of interests, and whether Hunter Biden’s work affected United States foreign policy or a foreign government or foreign entity’s response.

As more information comes to light regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the Ukrainians and Chinese and his father’s apparent actions to use his position as vice president to facilitate his son’s financial pursuits, it stretches all credibility to deny an investigation is warranted.

Instead of neglecting all their legislative responsibilities to investigate President Trump, Democrats must acknowledge a serious scandal festers in their own ranks and take appropriate action.

We need to stop playing politics and look to get to the bottom of a potentially real scandal.

If Democrats continue to ignore the Biden scandal, this impeachment inquiry will be haunted by a legacy of illegitimacy, and the American people’s faith in their representative government will suffer a demoralizing blow.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: The consequences of impeachment

(WH/Flickr)

In the summer of 1973, as a student intern in Washington far from my home in Mobile, I got a firsthand view as the Senate held its Watergate hearings. For a young person, it was an amazing introduction to politics, and I was fascinated by what I saw.

I followed the subsequent impeachment proceedings in 1974 carefully. Unfortunately, as the facts came out, it was clear President Nixon couldn’t continue in office.

During the Clinton impeachment drama, I was a busy father, attorney and part-time state school board member. I could not pay as close attention, but I still watched everything unfold with great interest.

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Clinton was, and is, a perjurer and abused his office by having sexual relations with a young intern – literally in his office in the White House.

Even so, I worried that the Republicans were overreaching with impeachment, and the voters told us we were.

After the House impeached Clinton and he was acquitted by the Senate, Republicans lost seats in the House and Newt Gingrich was forced to resign as speaker.

Fast forward to November 2016 and Donald Trump’s election as president.

Since Day 1 of his presidency, factions in our nation have called Donald Trump an illegitimate president. Many Democrats in elected office have publicly called for his impeachment for over two and a half years.

They’ve tried almost every trick in the book to manufacture something worthy of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” our Constitution requires for impeachment.

Look no further than Adam Schiff’s recent statement before the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff used his position as chairman of the committee to describe to a captive American audience a completely fabricated phone conversation between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.

This is the same Adam Schiff who spent months on cable news networks promising some vague bombshell in the Mueller Report. By now, all his credibility is in shambles.

I was proud to co-sponsor a resolution to condemn and censure Schiff for his blatant attempt to mislead the public through lies and deception. The American people deserve better.

The Ukrainian deal is just the latest impeachment flavor of the week after earlier attempts fell flat.

As with all the manufactured scandals from Russia to Justice Kavanaugh, Schiff and his allies in the national news media do not give the full truth in order to keep scandal in the headlines.

With regards to the President’s phone call to President Zelensky of Ukraine, the Department of Justice reviewed all the evidence in August, found no evidence of a federal crime, and closed their case. What do Democrats in the House think they will find that our nation’s criminal division could not?

The national news media won’t tell you that because it weakens the impeachment narrative. They are complicit with efforts to impeach at all costs.

We must stand up during tough times like these.

This process we are following now is unprecedented, bad for the country, and, ultimately for the Democrats, bad politics. The substantive basis for the present line of the impeachment “inquiry” is ludicrous.

Today, I have a much closer seat for impeachment than I did as a student in 1973. I have followed it as closely as anyone.

Next year, voters will have the opportunity to repudiate the Democrats for their baseless impeachment efforts. Speaker Pelosi, Schiff, the Squad and other Democrats would be wise to pay attention to history.

If not, and Democrats continue their impeachment crusade, Speaker Pelosi might be looking for another job as President Trump is sworn in for his second term.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Holding their feet to the fire

(G. Skidmore, majunznk/Flickr, YHN)

With her announcement that the House will finally move toward impeachment, Nancy Pelosi has set in motion what the Democrats have wanted to do since election night of 2016.

They will seek to remove President Trump at all costs.

It is frustrating for me that Washington is focused on these partisan impeachment proceedings when there is so much we could get done for the American people. For example, the president’s trade deal has bipartisan support but has not moved forward in the House.

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Of course, the border security crisis continues as well. Last week, I participated in the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row. Radio hosts from all over the country, including several from Alabama, assembled in our nation’s capital to discuss the urgency of solving the border crisis and fixing our immigration system.

This should be a priority for Congress. Instead, Democrats are offering plans to cater to their base that make things worse.

Democrats brought a bill to the House floor last week that would create a new government agency to provide vast new services to illegal immigrants. Common sense suggests we should end policies that drive illegal immigration, but what could encourage illegal immigration more than the promise of millions of additional dollars from American taxpayers?

Unfortunately, there is no appetite in the House for solving real problems like border security. And while we are distracted by impeachment, little else will get done either.

This entire charade is politically orchestrated theater. Looking at statements made by Democrats during the Bill Clinton impeachment in 1998 reveals the hypocrisy of the Democrat impeachment fantasy.

Back then, Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor “we are bringing dishonor to it with our hypocrisy here in this chamber. Today, the Republican majority is not judging our president with fairness, but impeaching him with a vengeance. … We are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of President Clinton; and until the Republicans free themselves of this hatred, our country will suffer.”

Is there any doubt that the current impeachment efforts are driven entirely by hatred of Donald Trump and his policies? There is a clear double standard!

Jerry Nadler, who as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has been one of the fiercest proponents of impeaching President Trump, said in 1998 that “there must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by the other.”

Those comments from two decades ago should destroy any fabrications that today’s partisan impeachment probe is driven by principles.

Maxine Waters, who famously encouraged Democrats to publicly confront and harass Trump officials, said in 1998, “I am greatly disappointed in the raw, unmasked, unbridled hatred and meanness that drives this impeachment coup-d’etat, the unapologetic disregard for the voice of the people.” Her colleague Sheila Jackson Lee said after the impeachment vote that “we leave here today void and empty because our president will have been toppled against the will of the people of the United States.” Rosa DeLauro, a close Pelosi ally, said impeachment “is wrong and it is unfair. It denies the American people their right to representative democracy.”

Clearly what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. These representatives seem to think that the will of the voters should be honored, but only when those voters select Democrat candidates.

Those of us who remember the Clinton impeachment battle know that impeachment sucks all the air out of the room. Everything else in Washington will stop. The American people deserve better.

Democrats will continue to be distracted by their impeachment fantasy, but I will continue fighting to hold their feet to the fire.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Americans want results, not impeachment

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

The first year of Democratic control of the House of Representatives is almost up, and we have nothing to show for it.

For the first several months, perhaps some of this lack of results was understandable. After a decade in the minority, Democrats were anxious to vote on issues they prioritized. In other words, they could hold some political show votes to please their base before moving on to serious efforts at governance.

Nine months later, it is clear this initial aimlessness was not just a case of backlogged priorities. House Democrats continue to prioritize messaging for the 2020 elections.

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When traveling throughout Alabama, I consistently hear two concerns: border security and the high cost of healthcare. While both issues are complex, there is room for compromise and results.

I visited the border earlier this year, and after seeing the crisis firsthand, I can tell you how serious it is.

For years, there was bipartisan support for building a wall. After President Trump took office by promising to get serious with our border security, Democrats flipped. They insisted there was no crisis. Many refer to a border wall as “Trump’s vanity wall” despite voting only years ago to build it!

The fight for border funding has even stymied Congress’ ability to fund our government on time.

There is widespread agreement that our healthcare costs are too high. Clearly, Obamacare did not deliver on its promises. To me, the commonsense options are to repeal and replace it or improve it.

I was proud to vote in 2017 to repeal Obamacare. This bill was the result of months of compromise between the House and Senate. Unfortunately, that bill did not pass the Senate. It is one of my biggest disappointments since coming to Washington.

Although repealing Obamacare is not an option with Democrats running the House, for now, making improvements to our healthcare system to benefit working Americans is an area where both parties should have interest. Sadly, we have not seen efforts to pursue this option either.

Instead of trying to pass meaningful legislation with a chance of becoming law, Democrats have put all their eggs in the impeachment basket.

This isn’t a good way to run Congress. I don’t believe it is wise politically either. The American people want us to get something done on the issues they care about. After all, that is why they elected us. They don’t want us to spend all our efforts to impeach the president they elected lawfully. They want results.

Yet almost every committee in the House is pursuing some sort of investigation against President Trump. Many of these investigations are looking into Trump’s activities as a private citizen well before he ran for office.

For two years, special counsel Robert Muller’s report was all Democrats and their national media allies talked about. They promised the American people the report would be damning to the president.

When Mueller’s report and Congressional testimony landed with a whimper, many who had predicted bombshells were left looking silly or downright dishonest.

Democrats went into damage control mode. Nonetheless, many decided to double down. Instead of accepting the report, Democrats expanded their probe.

They are even seeking to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Recently, The New York Times reported allegations from Justice Kavanaugh’s time at college. These were similar to the baseless charges we heard during his confirmation hearing. But right on cue, many Democrats immediately began talks of impeaching Kavanaugh.

When the Times embarrassingly revealed they had knowingly withheld the fact that the alleged victim did not recall the incident, stunned Democrats went back into damage control.

If Democrats continue pursuing their impeachment fantasy at the expense of getting their job done, they’ll be doing damage control in November 2020.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Rural Alabama worth fighting for

(Pixabay, B. Byrne/Facebook, YHN)

Our rural communities truly are the backbone of our nation. They clothe us and feed us, and they manufacture many of the goods we use every day.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 60 million Americans live in rural communities.

For too long, these 60 million Americans have been fighting global forces alone. Thankfully, we now have a fighter in the White House for rural America.

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Not only has Washington neglected to fight for rural Americans. It has often been part of the problem.

During the Obama administration, officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) conspired to propose a new Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule. This rule would redefine the term “navigable waterways” to include everything from family fishing ponds to small backyard ditches.

I pride myself on championing commonsense policies to protect our natural resources. But to call a ditch that only holds water after a heavy rain a “navigable water” does not pass the smell test. Some of these bureaucrats hidden away in Washington should take a ride up the Alabama River to see a real navigable waterway.

This vast expansion of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction to areas never intended by Congress was, at best, misguided. It may have violated the law.

It would have subjected farmers, foresters, municipalities and small businesses to additional federal regulation and added compliance costs. It was a job killer that did little to protect our environment.

Let’s call it what it was – a power grab by an overzealous federal government.

Last week, the Trump EPA and Corps finalized a rule repealing the Obama-era WOTUS rule.

It is difficult to overstate the significance of this victory. It was a promise made by President Trump in his campaign to overturn the harmful WOTUS rule, and he truly delivered here.

The Trump administration has done much more for our rural communities, including in health care.

If you live in a rural community, you know how vital a hospital can be. In addition to treating us when we are sick and caring for us in an emergency, rural hospitals are a critical selling point to prospective employers and job seekers.

You also are aware of the struggles so many of our rural hospitals have faced. A significant driver of these hardships has been an outdated wage index formula that gave millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursements that should have gone to Alabama to large urban centers.

This issue has been a priority of mine. Thankfully, the Trump administration was willing to listen to me and other colleagues on the severity of the wage index problem. Earlier this year, after over two years of working with the administration, the decision was made to implement a much more equitable formula.

This means millions of dollars will be sent to Alabama hospitals. These dollars will mean so much to our rural hospitals and the communities they serve.

Another area our rural communities have lagged is broadband access. Broadband is almost as important today as electricity was a century ago.

Not only is it essential for most modern jobs, but our schools increasingly rely on high-speed internet to teach our children. Without access to broadband, our rural communities lack access to much of the modern technology of today.

I’ve been proud to support President Trump’s actions to aid rural broadband expansion by expediting federal permitting and making it easier for wireless operators to put cell towers on federal lands.

With government out of the way, our rural broadband infrastructure will continue to grow.

Our rural communities are worth fighting for. I promise to continue advocating for our people and our values in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: August recess roundup

(B. Bryne/Facebook)

It is a very old tradition for Congress to recess during the hot and humid month of August. Years ago, Congress had completed its work by this time and took the rest of the year off. However, we now reconvene after what has become known as the August District Work Period.

This time has always been valuable for me to spend listening to my constituents. This year, with Speaker Pelosi setting aside six whole weeks for my colleagues and me to spend in our respective districts, I took advantage. I was glad to be able to see so many old and new friends and speak directly with people I represent throughout the district.

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During the first week of the District Work Period, Alabama got some good news. That week, I received a call from Seema Verna, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Administrator Verma informed me that the Trump administration had finalized a new rule containing reforms to the Medicare Wage Index I have fought for since coming to Congress.

These reforms mean millions of dollars that should have been coming to Alabama hospitals will now come our way. In the past, these dollars were going to hospitals in more populated areas like New York and Los Angeles. This important news will especially aid our rural hospitals who have struggled for too long.

Our district has a diversity of interests including our Gulf fisheries, manufacturing and industry, diversity small businesses, and agriculture. I held an Economic Development Roundtable in my Mobile office with community leaders from the district to discuss all the issues and challenges they face. I also attended a franchise roundtable at CertaPro Painters in Daphne.

Fortunately, the Trump economy is benefitting small businesses and local economies, and tax cuts and reduced regulations have freed business owners to do what they do best.

Of course, the water resources in our district are second to none. It was a pleasure to speak at the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Conference about our port and waterways and the need to responsibly manage these valuable resources.

In Spanish Fort, I was able to speak to the Society of Military Engineers about all the work they do for our national security. And I was able to make the drive to Ozark to speak with members of the Association of the United States Army.

As you probably know, I enjoy hosting town hall meetings so I can hear directly from constituents. Since taking office in 2014, I have held over 100 district town halls. In August, I held lively town halls in Grand Bay and Atmore.

Even when I am not in the district, my staff is working for you. They hold monthly community office hours in each of the six counties I represent. Here members of my staff can personally help you with any problems you may be experiencing with federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare and Social Security. We can help you with your passport too.

Of course, you can always call or email my office as well if you need our assistance. I am proud that we have helped hundreds of constituents navigate the federal bureaucracy. Little is more satisfying to me or my staff then helping a veteran get the assistance he or she deserves.

Speaking with Alabama nurses, farmers, mechanics, veterans, teachers and retirees over the past six weeks was a great pleasure. Getting the chance over Labor Day to spend time with my grandkids was a wonderful treat too.

With Congress reconvening this week, I look forward to continuing my service to you and bringing Alabama values to Washington.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Let’s dump Doug in 2020

(B. Byrne, D. Jones/FB)

The people of Alabama deserve to know what’s at stake in this 2020 Senate election. Our state will face a choice: will we stand with President Trump and replace Doug Jones with a conservative who will fight for our Alabama values? Or will we send Doug back to Washington where he will fight against the president every chance he gets?

This question will be answered at the ballot box in November 2020 when Alabama voters elect their next U.S. senator. As Doug Jones kicks off his reelection campaign, now is an important time to make sure Alabama knows we have to Dump Doug. Because one thing is certain: he does not represent our Alabama values.

Doug and his Democrat colleagues want our free and strong America weakened, they want more government, and they want to tax and regulate our economy to death. They want to take our guns, kill babies right out of the womb, and open the borders for illegal immigrants. With people like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leading their party, Democrats have become increasingly radical and extreme.

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The so-called “Squad” and socialism are a rapidly growing threat to our American values. These are Doug’s Democrat colleagues, and they want to turn the America that you and I love into a place where government infringes on every one of our God-given rights.

Doug is so out of touch with Alabama that he joined his Democrat colleagues in blocking a bill that would have ensured hard-earned American tax dollars could not be used to fund abortions.

Since I have been in Congress, I have consistently stood up for the unborn, and I will continue to stand up for life. Time and time again, I’ve gone to bat against the evils of Planned Parenthood and voted to ensure not a single penny of taxpayer money is used to fund abortions.

Doug is in lockstep with the “Socialist Squad” in opposing President Trump every chance they get. Doug betrayed the people of Alabama when he voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. On a critical Supreme Court appointment, Doug Jones voted against the will of Alabama because he said he was smarter than us.

I’m one of President Trump’s strongest allies, voting with him 97% percent of the time. Alabama deserves a senator who will fight alongside, not against, President Trump to defend the Constitution, build the wall, stand up for the unborn, push for lower taxes, make health care more affordable, and protect the Second Amendment. While Doug is focused on attacking President Trump, I promise to work with President Trump to make his pro-life, pro-wall, pro-worker agenda a reality.

We have a decision to make, Alabama. Let’s Dump Doug and elect a Christian, conservative reformer who will always fight for Alabama. That’s exactly what I promise to do.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Byrne: Celebrating Alabama’s workers

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Labor Day is a wonderful time to celebrate Alabama’s exceptional working men and women. From Tennessee River Valley engineers to Black Belt farmers and Gulf Coast shipbuilders, our workers are powering an economic boom that has reduced unemployment and raised wages.

President Trump and his commitment to prioritizing and empowering American workers continue to pay dividends in our state.

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Commonsense pro-growth strategies like slashing unnecessary regulations and reducing taxes are keeping more money in the wallets of employee and employer alike. That’s more money to fill up your car with gas or buy school supplies for your children.

But we cannot be satisfied. As we deal with an evolving global economy, it is important we do what is necessary now to have the workforce we need tomorrow. Education and job training are more critical than ever.

I’m working to keep us prepared. This summer, I introduced the Modern Worker Empowerment Act with my colleagues Representatives Elise Stefanik and Phil Roe. This bill recognizes that the modern workplace has changed dramatically, and it updates or removes outdated laws and regulations that could hold back economic progress or limit job opportunities.

We must continue looking for opportunities to empower American workers instead of holding them back.

If you’re like me, your first experience earning a paycheck was as a teenager in a low wage job. The lessons provided by such opportunities are invaluable in teaching the dignity of work as well as the soft skills necessary to excel in the workplace, whether it’s a factory, a classroom, or an office.

Unfortunately, some in Washington are pushing to increase the current minimum wage by over 100%. While we all want our workers to earn more for a hard day’s work, such a drastic shock to the system would eliminate countless entry-level jobs. Employers would increase automation, outsource labor, or simply not hire additional workers. That is not the solution we need to help workers.

Instead, we must continue supporting pro-worker policies that reduce barriers to opportunity, help small businesses grow, and raise wages organically.

In 2017, I introduced the Save Local Businesses Act to eliminate the confusing and burdensome joint employer rule that hits our franchise businesses particularly hard. My bill, which passed in the House of Representatives, would provide important clarity regarding labor laws for both employer and employee.

I am preparing to introduce this bill again and hope it can pass the House again and go to the Senate.

President Trump’s efforts to help American workers extend globally. When he took office, he promised a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada that would repair some of the flaws of NAFTA. His goal to help our workers and create new markets for American goods is one I wholeheartedly support.

Many critics scoffed at him for trying to achieve the impossible, but nonetheless President Trump was successful in negotiating a new deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

This was a huge victory for American workers. USMCA would help many industrial sectors in Alabama, particularly our automobile manufacturing.

I am hopeful Speaker Pelosi will take steps this month to move this important deal through the House so it can be enacted. This agreement is too important for America’s workers for us to let politics get in the way.

With the parades and barbecues of Labor Day behind us, a transition to cooler weather, a new school year, and football season begins. But first, I hope you were able to enjoy time this Labor Day with your family and loved ones – the reason most of us labor so hard the rest of the year!

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Byrne: We must stand with Israel

(B. Byrne/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

Israel means so much to our nation. The American people have no better friend. As the only democracy in the volatile Middle East, Israel is one of our greatest partners on the global stage. And Israel, particularly Jerusalem, holds a close personal significance to many Americans of different faiths.

Israel is a very special place to my wife and me. Four years ago, Rebecca and I traveled together to the Holy Land in a visit that affected us deeply. On this transformational trip, we renewed our baptismal covenant in the River Jordan. From the Golan Heights to the site of Solomon’s temple, our travels reinforced our Christian faith.

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Last week, I once again visited Israel. My visit coincided with a diplomatic dustup between Israel and two members of The Squad, Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

The Squad’s hatred of Israel, support of the BDS movement, and denial of Israel’s right to exist weighed heavily on the minds of many Israelis who already live in danger. With all Israel faces, I respect Israel’s decision to block Tlaib, Omar, and their anti-Israel activism out of the country.

The week brought many moments of poignancy that provided important perspective. As part of our tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, we visited the Western Wall, which offered a meaningful opportunity for me to pray for our nation and state. This was a very special moment for me.

Looking down upon the City of David from the Temple Mount, one of the holiest spots in the world, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed. Being near the location where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac and walking the Southern Steps, where so many biblical figures traveled, was equally moving. And it was thrilling to see the Bethesda pool from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John. Perhaps the highlight of the week occurred at the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. Praying at the site where Jesus prayed to his father before being crucified was a truly amazing experience.

We met with several American and Israeli officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who provided unique insights on Israel’s challenges. Ambassador Friedman is a true champion of the U.S.-Israeli relationship

A highlight of the week was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The opportunity to reinforce in person our two nations’ commitment to one another was of critical importance. He is a great friend of the United States.

Speaking with Israeli military officials about Israel’s missile defense programs like Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling made it clear that Israel is in a tough neighborhood. Adversaries like Iran would wipe them out if the chance arose. Israel’s high-tech defense programs are impressive, and I’m proud of U.S. support for these programs.

Without question, President Trump’s steps to strengthen our alliance with Israel, including the bipartisan action of relocating the American embassy to its rightful location in Jerusalem, are beneficial and long overdue. Both parties should support actions to strengthen this alliance. I wish all my colleagues would visit Israel and talk directly with Israelis about the challenges they face. Israel is a special place, and we must stand firm in our alliance with its people.

Israel remains a crucial American ally in a dangerous world. Though anti-Israel sentiments are only held by a minority of Americans, I am increasingly concerned they seem to be finding a sympathetic mouthpiece from the mainstream media. Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel cannot be tolerated or go unchallenged. I promise to continue proudly standing with Israel.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.