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: Hope in the time of the coronavirus

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Pixabay, YHN)

In Genesis 2, God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” He made us for Himself, but he also made us for one another. We are intimately connected to one another, and separation, even though for our own physical health, and even though on a temporary basis, is painful for us all.

John Donne, the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London during the 17th century, said, “No man is an island, entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” He went on to say, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

We are not “islands,” we are part of the “main” of all humans and “involved” in the life of the world here and now. Disease and death diminish us all. But, they don’t have to defeat us. We can and will defeat this disease.

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This fight against the coronavirus called COVID-19 is hard. We are forced to separate from one another, a necessary infringement on our humanity, and however necessary, an infringement on basic liberties. Our economy is sorely wounded. Worse, our neighbors are infected with this disease, some fighting for their lives, some tragically losing that fight.

We are better, stronger than this disease. Brave men and women on the frontline, doctors and nurses, first responders and health paraprofessionals, pharmacists and those working to provide us food and necessities, are showing the indomitable American will, the will to win. And, yet, all of us have a role to play, to responsibly social distance from one another, to practice proper hygiene and to know when its time to be tested and/or to quarantine ourselves.

We have weathered diseases before in our history. The 1918 Flu Pandemic. The Polio Epidemic of the 1950s. Yellow Fever ravaged early Mobile and all of Alabama off and on during the 19th century. But, in all of those we didn’t have the public health resources in near the abundance we do now.

The public health professionals tell us that we must slow down the spread of the disease so it doesn’t overwhelm our hospitals and health care providers. That’s why we have social distancing.

We know the disease is spread person to person or when one of us touches a surface where the virus is still alive. By stopping our natural human contact, in our jobs, our schools, our restaurants and bars, our non-essential retailers, our group meetings, our social meetings and even in our worship services, we stop the spread and give our health care professionals the time and resources to help us, to heal us and, for some, to save us.

This obviously hurts us economically and socially. And we don’t need to continue it one minute longer than is needed. We will know when we can start to relax the mandates against social mingling. It will be when the number of new cases starts to come down on a sustained basis; not when we have no new cases, but when the number of new cases, or the rate of new cases, comes down day after day. As we get more tests out there, and new tests are increasing at a fast pace now, we will have a lot more cases. That doesn’t mean it’s spreading at that rate. In part, it just means that we are seeing the natural result of all this new testing.

A couple of data points are important to keep in mind. Only between 10 and 15 percent of all people tested in the US at present are testing positive. The vast majority tested here don’t have the disease. And remember, we are in many places only testing those at risk. As testing gets far wider, that rate may come down. Of those who do test positive, 80 percent have no or only mild symptoms. But, 20 percent need some form of significant care. They are of all ages, by the way, so the fact that you are young doesn’t protect you. And, tragically around 1 percent to 1.5 percent die. That may not sound like much but it’s 10 to 15 times higher than the flu.

Meanwhile, all levels of government play an important role. Our governors and mayors, as well as public health officers, must issue the appropriate orders to protect us all. Closing restaurants and bars, beaches and parks, small retailers and large group meetings, are each hard decisions. The economic and social ramifications are far-reaching. They must start, and they must end, at the right times, based upon sound medical and professional advice, and plain common sense.

We at the federal government must work with state and local leaders to inform their difficult decisions and help them, where appropriate, carry out these tough decisions.

The fathers of two of my House colleagues have served at the highest level of our government. I asked them both if their dads had seen anything like it. Jimmy Panetta, whose dad, Leon Panetta has been White House chief of staff, secretary of Defense and CIA director, said his father had never seen anything like it. Liz Cheney, whose dad, Dick Cheney has been vice president, White House chief of staff and secretary of Defense, said the closest experience in her father’s career was 9/11. Jimmy and Liz, Leon and Dick, Democrats and Republicans. We’ve rarely, if ever, seen anything like this.

When last week’s unemployment insurance filings were reported at over 3 million, the highest ever by far in our history, and when the number of cases and deaths dramatically expanded, it was clear we had entered truly extraordinary times, calling for extraordinary government action.

So, with broad and deep bipartisan support, we passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security Act (CARES Act), providing over $2 trillion in support for individual citizens, workers who have lost their jobs, small businesses so that they will not close or lay off their workers, larger businesses in the way of loans and not bailouts, healthcare, education, transit, and more. Unprecedented resources have been quickly directed for more tests, more personal protective equipment, research and development for treatments and even a cure, and ultimately a vaccine.

I don’t like everything in the bill. In fact, there were parts that I strongly disagreed with. The time to talk about those, and how they came to be stuffed into an otherwise crucial bill, will come later, and those responsible will be named. But, our people are hurting, our way of life threatened, and this is no time to let these issues slow down the effort to get the job done. Indeed, I had hoped that the vast majority of us in the House could have avoided having to take the risk to actually travel to Washington and be in a room with hundreds of others as we have ordered the rest of the country not to do, but one member threatened to further delay the bill and so I and another 200-plus members made the trip and got the bill passed.

Like most of you, I am working from home and maintaining social distance. My staff is also working and our offices open for you but we ask that you call and not try to come in. We have helped repatriate a number of citizens from our district who have found themselves stuck in a foreign country closing its borders. We are answering many phone calls on the laws we have passed to respond to this disease and with questions about the disease itself.

I must confess, I don’t like to be kept at arm’s length from the people I serve. It runs against everything in me, but I recognize the wisdom of it. We in positions of public authority have the heavy responsibility of gauging how long this must continue and I pray that it is a matter of weeks, not months. But, unfortunately, the virus dictates that; I just want us all, at every level of government, to exercise good common sense. In the meantime, I feel like the words of the old song by one of Alabama’s sons, Hank Williams: “I’m so lonesome I could cry.”

Last week, I was on a number of conference calls with groups in the district and a teletownhall with nearly 4,000 constituents. In one, a person asked me to give them hope. I was struck by that simple request, that we provide hope.

So, here goes.

We are a great and powerful nation. We were born in an uncertain and dangerous revolution, invaded even in our Capitol by the greatest power in the world just 40 years after our founding, suffered a civil war costing 600,000 of our lives, fought two desperate world wars, watched our economy nearly disappear in a Great Depression, tore ourselves apart in the social upheavals of the 60s, and endured an attack by terrorists on our largest city and the center of our national defense. And yet, after each one we Americans not only survived, we learned how to make our country greater, how to perfect our union.

The prophet Isaiah, writing during the Babylonian captivity, put it in beautiful language:

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

And, as we approach Passover and Easter, let us remember the hope expressed in the miraculous delivery of the Jewish people from slavery and the resurrection of Christ who defeated death itself. Indeed, Solomon said in his Eighth Song, “Love is as strong as death.”

That’s the ultimate reason for hope: God’s love for us all overcomes death.

As we mourn those we have lost to this disease, as we continue to miss the physical presence of one another, as we struggle with the testing and spread of the disease, and as we fight to preserve our economy and our way of life, let us be confident in the ultimate result, using our own strength and leaning on God’s.

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

Byrne: Slowing the spread requires all hands on deck

(Wikicommons, YHN)

As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to change the way we live our daily lives, it’s important to take note of the ways this challenging time has brought our communities together. It has been reassuring to see stories of neighbors helping neighbors in communities in Southwest Alabama and beyond. As we continue to treat this unprecedented challenge with the seriousness it deserves, let’s not forget to help our neighbors as best we can.

Whether dropping off supplies to senior citizens or supporting local businesses, we all can do something for others in our community.

As expected with increased testing, the number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen. The first coronavirus aid bill passed by Congress included more than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available, and more test kits are on the way to Alabama. It is important to remember that approximately 90 percent of tests are coming back negative, and most who contract the coronavirus show no or mild symptoms. To slow the spread, it is critically important we all continue practicing social distancing, keeping our hands washed, and using common sense.

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Your federal government is continuing to work aggressively. Vice President Pence and the coronavirus task force have exhibited outstanding leadership. On March 16, with the consultation of medical professionals on the task force, President Trump instituted a “15 days to slow the spread” initiative to encourage Americans to stay home, avoid gatherings greater than 10 people, choose takeout rather than dine-in, and avoid travel and social visits whenever possible. The more we encourage others to follow these guidelines, the sooner we can “flatten the curve.”

This problem truly requires an “all hands on deck” solution. President Trump has called for the private sector to help, and the response has been encouraging. Some automobile manufacturers are working to transition from cars to ventilators. Just this week, Governor Ivey announced an anonymous donation of 100,000 masks to the state. Even my colleague in Congress, Denver Riggleman from Virginia, has transitioned his family’s distillery from making bourbon to hand sanitizer to supply to those in need. This is the kind of response Americans have always had during a crisis.

Our governor has shown strong leadership. She declared a state of emergency to mobilize all the state’s resources necessary to address the coronavirus. With this declaration, small businesses across Alabama negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are eligible for assistance under the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. She authorized the Alabama National Guard to activate up to 100 guardsmen if needed. Following the federal government’s actions moving the filing deadline for federal taxes from April 15 to July 15, Governor Ivey did the same for state taxes. And she has continued to follow the best guidance from medical professionals to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

There are important state resources available to Alabamians that you should know about. The Alabama Department of Public Health established a toll-free hotline at 1-888-264-2256 to answer questions regarding testing locations and options. Their website is a great location for information, updates, and guidance specific to the state. Additionally, the Alabama Department of Labor announced that workers who are unable to work due to the coronavirus are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. If you are eligible, you can file online at the department’s website or call 1-866-234-5382. As always, the Centers for Disease Control maintains an excellent resource for information at www.coronavirus.gov.

We are far from out of the woods, but we are making great progress. Thank others for their sacrifices and work for others, especially our medical professionals and first responders. I’ll continue keeping you updated on new developments from Washington. Americans are resilient and strong, and we will get through this!

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

Byrne: Embrace precaution, not panic, for coronavirus safety

(PIxabay, Bradley Byrne/Youtube, YHN)

I wanted to update you on the latest COVID-19 coronavirus developments. While the situation remains serious, the risk to most Americans remains low. It is important that we stay calm and do not panic unnecessarily.

The federal government continues its aggressive response to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, secure access to testing for those who need it, and ensure those who have contracted the disease receive the treatment they need. Vice President Pence and his coronavirus response team have been outstanding and have held regular press conferences updating the nation on the latest developments.

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Working closely with President Trump, this team of professionals has done much not only to address this crisis but to calm the fears of Americans. Last Friday, the president declared a national emergency, opening billions more in aid, announced partnerships with private companies to help in the response, coordinated with the CDC for expanded guidelines, and declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer over the coronavirus. In addition to using existing powers, the administration continues to make serious efforts to work with Congress.

The work now is to limit the spread of the coronavirus and “flatten the curve” by limiting exposure. As most researchers and medical professionals predicted, the number of confirmed cases in the United States has increased over the past week. Aggressive actions by the administration and close cooperation with states and Congress can continue our progress in curbing new cases and preventing a crisis like Italy has experienced.

While the Trump administration is taking this situation seriously and working in the best interest of the American people, some of my colleagues in Congress are adopting President Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s maxim to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” With varying success, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tried to jam as many unrelated Democrat wish list goodies into House coronavirus legislation as possible. Even many Democrats have been unhappy that their leadership seems content rushing to pass huge bills that include drastic, permanent policy changes, but Pelosi’s actions should surprise no one. Remember, it wasn’t long ago during the Obamacare debate that she famously said “we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.”

The American people deserve better, and I promise to work with this administration and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to make serious and effective efforts to govern appropriately during this time.

To everyone at home, I encourage you to embrace precaution, not panic. Keep in mind that most rumors you hear about drastic actions will be just that—rumors. The best way to keep your family safe and avoid getting the coronavirus is simply to avoid exposure as much as possible. The simplest steps are to practice social distancing and good hygiene practices. Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and keep six feet apart from others whenever possible. Know the warning signs of fever, shortness of breath, and a consistent cough. Above all, use common sense. The best resource for information on the coronavirus and how to prevent its contraction and spread is www.coronavirus.gov.

As Congress, the administration and other entities such as the Federal Reserve continue pursuing actions to limit the economic ramifications of the coronavirus, there is no doubt there will be significant short-term repercussions. But, our country remains strong and I have every confidence that the economy will rebound once we have contained the coronavirus. My office remains open to answer any questions you may have about the coronavirus and assist you however possible. Together, our nation will get through this and emerge stronger than ever.

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

Byrne: Combating coronavirus misinformation

(Contributed)

Although the COVID-19 coronavirus is dominating the news, it’s important to know the facts about the virus and the ongoing work to prevent its spread. I’d also like to dispel some misinformation regarding your government’s actions to fight it.

Despite what some fearmongers have said, the federal government has been preparing for a public health challenge such as this. In fact, according to the 2019 Global Health Security Index, the United States ranks number one in a “comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries.” No country is better prepared than we are to deal with a challenge like this. And despite politically motivated accusations by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Republicans have increased funding to public health agencies. For example, since 2015, we have increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) by 24%, National Institutes of Health by 39% and infection disease response by a whopping 70%.

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Just last week, Congress passed a coronavirus bill that provides over $8 billion in emergency funding. This package will speed the development of vaccines, increase access to testing and treatments, and expand access to telemedicine services so more people can see their doctor remotely — a trend that will continue to accelerate in the years to come. This bill will ensure the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Department of Homeland Security have the resources needed. If further action is needed, Congress stands ready to act quickly.

The Trump administration has also acted aggressively to protect Americans. I’ve been very disappointed in my colleagues who have used this opportunity to mislead and divide Americans. We must be better than that. Make no mistake, since day one, President Trump and his administration have made the safety, security, and health of the American people their top priority. The administration instituted travel restrictions for incoming flights from places like Iran and China, declared a public health emergency, and appointed Vice President Pence to lead the coronavirus task force. They have continued to host bipartisan briefings for members of Congress and called for health care providers across the county to ensure they are implementing their infection control procedures. And HHS is purchasing 500 million respirators over the next several months for the Strategic National Stockpile.

The risk to the average American remains low, but as testing continues, there are certain to be more cases. Most cases will be mild, but seniors, especially those with underlying health conditions, can be most at risk. The CDC says there is no need for Americans to change their day-to-day lives, but there is plenty that you can do to protect yourself. CDC’s website is the best source of information about prevention and treatment. Most importantly, avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And you should know the warnings signs of fever, shortness of breath and a consistent cough.

Most importantly, there is no need to panic. If we all work together, we can continue to control this situation in the best interests of every American.

While this situation can and most certainly will change rapidly as more data and information becomes available, you can be assured that your government has prepared itself for this challenge and is doing all it can to continue prioritizing the health and safety of Americans and mitigate the spread of the virus. I will continue to monitor this situation and do all I can in Congress to work with the administration to take all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of the American people. We can all do our part by staying informed and practicing good hygiene.

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

Byrne: No fight is more noble than defending the unborn

(Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Pixabay)

I can think of no fight more noble or important than defending unborn children. The Scriptures make clear that God makes every person in His image, so this issue is very near to my heart. I am proud to be a leader in the fight to end abortion. With the election of President Trump, we have never been closer.

Just last week, two very important pro-life bills received a majority vote in the Senate! The first was the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. This bill is common sense. It just requires abortionists to provide the same medical care to a baby born alive in a failed abortion as they would an infant born prematurely at the same age. The second was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which says abortions cannot be permitted when the child can feel pain, about 20 weeks. Only seven countries in the world permit these terrible late term abortions, sadly including the United States.

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Unfortunately, Democrats in the Senate filibustered both these bills, preventing them from advancing despite a majority of senators supporting. Speaker Pelosi has used similar tactics. She has forbidden these bills, and many other pro-life bills, from even receiving a vote. After Virginia’s governor said he would allow children who survive an abortion to die, I came to the floor and tried to call up the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. Pelosi cut off my mic. Since gaining power last year, she has blocked my colleagues and me from bringing up this legislation over 80 times!

Democrats can pull these stunts, but the truth is the American people are not on their side. According to a Susan B. Anthony List poll, 77% of Americans believe that Congress should protect babies born alive after a failed abortion. And 62% oppose legislation allowing late-term abortions. The Democrats may have used procedural gimmicks to stop us for now, but we will prevail in the fight against abortion.

This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in one of the most important abortion cases in years. The Supreme Court hopefully will end the practice of allowing abortion businesses, such as Planned Parenthood, to sue to block pro-life laws. Federal courts have twisted the rules to give them what is called “standing,” allowing big abortion businesses to file expensive lawsuits against pro-life states like Alabama. Changing this rule could be a game changing moment, as lawsuits are one of the biggest hold ups in making progress in the pro-life movement.

That is why appointing conservative judges to the Supreme Court and other federal courts is so important in the fight against abortion. President Trump has kept his promise to give us judges that will be pro-life. With the successful confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, it is now possible that we could see further changes to the court’s position on abortion. These appointments are on top of the many other pro-life efforts of the Trump administration. Just this week, President Trump’s regulation that will defund Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning dollars will go completely into effect!

It saddens me beyond measure that abortion is permitted inside this great country. How long can a nation that practices abortion and infanticide continue to be great? I believe wholeheartedly that mass abortions will be one of the greatest stains on this nation’s history. I am fully committed to fighting for life and protecting the unborn. The cause 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: We can’t let up in the fight against gun-grabbers

(Wikicommons, YHN)

The Second Amendment is under attack like never before in our nation’s history, but I am leading the fight to preserve your constitutional rights.

Last year, just weeks after taking power, House Democrats passed a bill to limit the constitutional right to own guns. Their misguided legislation would do nothing to address the underlying problem behind actions of mass violence. That bill, H.R. 8, would prevent lawful gun owners from selling their guns to other law-abiding Americans. If that bill became law, anytime a gun owner like me wanted to transfer or sell a gun, he or she would have to go through a government-sanctioned middle-man. Of course, this process would be prohibitively time consuming and expensive. The authors of this bill’s true intent not only was to freeze all gun transactions through the power of a slow and inefficient federal bureaucracy but to subject millions of Americans to federal prosecution. Even transferring a firearm to a family member or friend could require federal permission!

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Let’s not kid ourselves. Criminals are not going to put their illegal enterprises on pause while waiting for permission to buy or sell a gun. H.R. 8 does nothing to stop crime and only burdens lawful citizens. And it does nothing to address the mental health crisis behind so much of the mass violence we have seen. During the debate on that bill, I introduced an amendment to strip out this anti-gun legislation and replace it with nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. My amendment actually could make our country safer. Unsurprisingly, Speaker Pelosi blocked my amendment.

Fortunately for gun owners, we have a true friend in the White House. President Trump has been the biggest advocate for the Second Amendment ever to sit in the Oval Office. To appreciate the significance of that, contrast his Second Amendment policies with those of his opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.

In 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller, in a major victory against zealous gun-grabbing liberals, the Supreme Court ruled against a District of Columbia law criminalizing handgun ownership. That law made it illegal to possess an unregistered firearm in the city but also effectively prohibited registration itself, a blatant attempt to block constitutional rights to own a gun. Clinton, however, disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling! Can you imagine if we had a president in the White House who thought it should be illegal to own a gun? Unfortunately, her beliefs are now standard for Democrat politicians.

The battle to preserve the second amendment continues in the courts. Last year, I wrote an amicus brief, often called a “friend of the court” brief, to the Supreme Court. The Court is working on a case, N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, to determine if New York’s ban on transporting a handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is constitutional. Like the District of Columbia law found unconstitutional in Heller, this law is a backdoor attempt to weaken your Second Amendment rights. I was proud to have 120 lawmakers sign onto my brief as well as the support of the NRA and Gun Owners of America.

Last week, I signed on as an original cosponsor to an important bill to strengthen and protect gun rights. The Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act would ban states from prosecuting lawful gun owners simply traveling through their state. This commonsense legislation would protect against liberal states’ sneaky schemes to circumvent the Second Amendment. I’ll continue fighting for this bill with my colleagues, including Mo Brooks of Alabama who introduced the bill.

The gun-grabbers aren’t letting up, so we can’t stop fighting either. Rest assured I will keep leading the fight in Washington to protect your Second Amendment rights.

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

Byrne: The New Way Forward Act is an assault on our borders

(B. Byrne/Facebook, CBP/Flickr, YHN)

A clear warning of how far to the extreme left the Democratic Party has moved is the recently introduced New Way Forward Act. This immigration bill would totally uproot the rule of law, provide amnesty for illegals here and import dangerous criminals into the United States. By allowing foreign citizens who committed serious felonies to stay in our country, all Americans would be at risk. And by granting new rights to illegal aliens, the New Way Forward Act would prevent our immigration officials from detaining most illegal immigrants. Shockingly, over 40 of my Democrat colleagues in the House have cosponsored this legislation.

We have long known that many on the far left have the goal of global open borders. They do not appreciate that to keep our country prosperous and strong we must have real, enforceable borders. Put another way, our country won’t be any different from the rest of the world if we eliminate our borders and let whoever wants here to enter.

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Simply put, the New Way Forward Act aims to decriminalize illegal immigration altogether. It would turn us into a sanctuary nation where anyone who desires entry can come in almost unchallenged. It grants new rights to illegal border crossers that would effectively shut down our already overworked immigration courts. For example, those detained for illegally entering would be entitled to an initial custody hearing within 48 hours, and detainees would be entitled to a new bond hearing every 60 days. This is designed by the bill’s authors to be impossible!

The bill also includes provisions to block local law enforcement from performing immigration enforcement activities. Why would we not want our law enforcement to actually enforce our laws? Isn’t that what they are for? This explains a lot of what some of my more liberal colleagues in Washington think about law and order.

Perhaps most shockingly, the New Way Forward Act removes certain felonies from consideration when considering whether detainees should be allowed entry to our country. Why would we want to protect convicted felons from being deported? This legislation would roll out a welcome mat for them. The bill would even repeal laws that make illegal entry into the United States a crime. Can you imagine the chaos this would bring?

This bill has one goal – open borders. That’s why Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says this bill would “gut the rule of law” in the country.

I have been to our southern border. I’ve seen firsthand the challenges facing our border patrol agents. Without question, gutting our immigration laws would make their jobs tougher. It would erode American safety and incentivize illegal immigration. Yet Democrats overwhelmingly support sanctuary city laws that allow jurisdictions to refuse to enforce our immigration laws. These sanctuary jurisdictions go further by stonewalling federal officials seeking to enforce our immigration laws. But it gets even worse. States like California have passed laws to grant driver licenses to illegal immigrants. Shockingly, these laws could even automatically register illegal immigrants granted driver licenses the right to vote in elections!

Last week, I signed on as an original cosponsor of the Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act. The premise of this bill is simple: if you are a sanctuary city blocking the enforcement of our federal immigration laws, you should be blocked from receiving federal money. This bill would prevent states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens from receiving important federal grants.

Unfortunately, common sense is something lacking in Washington. I’m proud to be able to serve you by bringing Alabama values to the swamp. I’ll continue working with President Trump to fight bills like the New Way Forward Act and to ensure our immigration policies serve and protect you, the American people.

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

Bradley Byrne: Abolishing the U.S. Department of Education

(Rep. Byrne/YouTube)

The federal government is just too big and too intrusive in the daily lives of the American people. Our Founders never intended for it to have the gross overreach that it does today. Indeed, they had just won their independence from an overreaching English king, and they wanted their new government under the Constitution to be limited.

The Founders also valued the role of state and local governments, using the Tenth Amendment to reserve to the states and the people those powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. Many things the federal government does today are not even mentioned in the Constitution.

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Education was important to the Founders, but they left that function to the states. So, it was the states of Georgia and North Carolina that formed the first public universities in 1785 and 1789. The first public high school was started by the City of Boston in 1821. Other than creating the service academies and providing federal land to states for them to sell for the endowment of agricultural and science colleges, like our own Auburn University, the federal government was not involved in education until well after World War II.

The federal government provides less than 20% of all education funding. So, in the U.S., education should be a state and local endeavor.

Nonetheless, during the Carter administration, Congress created a federal Department of Education, which now has 4,000 employees and a budget of $68 billion. It has no schools or colleges, but, like most federal departments and agencies, puts out lots of regulations and red tape to state and local schools.

This regulatory burden adds enormous expense to the cost of educating our students, a cost which cripples state and local governments and ultimately means state and local taxpayers. Worse, the federal government wrongfully steals the appropriate role of state and local governments in setting standards and policies for state and local schools. Remember when the Obama administration tried to dictate how public schools would run their bathrooms? They also tried to tell public universities how to handle student discipline.

The federal Department of Education should never have been created in the first place, but it’s time to abolish it, saving billions of dollars in administrative costs and removing the federal government from education decision making. They don’t know near as much about how to educate our students or run our schools as our superintendents, principals and teachers do. And their politically correct meddling is egregious.

I served on the Alabama State Board of Education and as the leader of our two-year college system. I have seen firsthand the costs of federal regulation at the state level and pushed back against the overreaching federal regulations. But, when I got to Washington, I was appalled to the waste, expense, and size of the federal Department of Education.

Everyone in America, except for the Washington bureaucrats at the Department, would benefit from doing away with it. Taxpayers would save money. State and local education officials would be free to do their jobs. And teachers, parents and citizens would reclaim control of our schools.

I know this would mean different choices in different states and localities and that we wouldn’t have a uniform national education system. But, that has been our tradition in this country. What Massachusetts wants will be different from what we want here in Alabama. There’s nothing wrong with that.

To be sure, we can learn from one another, as when Massachusetts studied the Alabama Reading Initiative to use parts of it in their state. The states were meant to be laboratories of innovation regarding these types of government functions. Let them do so, and we all will be better off.

The opponents of this idea want the power to control education from Washington, a power never intended by our Founders. And they want this power to dictate standards and policies for educating our children, and ultimately what we teach, including morality and values. It’s part of a broader agenda to reorder our society from the regressive Left. The Founders sure never intended that.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. And abolishing the federal Department of Education is clearly the right thing to do. As Alabama’s Senator, that is exactly what I will do.

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

Byrne: President Trump has the best week of his administration

(White House/Flickr)

Last week was President Trump’s best since moving into the White House. After giving a well-received State of the Union Address, the president was acquitted by the United States Senate, announced the killing of a major terrorist [and received a great jobs report. On the other hand, Democrats suffered several significant embarrassments.

It began Monday at the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. Despite months of work to manufacture enthusiasm, Democrats experienced extremely low turnout across the state. Things went from bad to worse as a host of errors prevented the counting and reporting of votes! Of course, it isn’t hard to see why the people of Iowa were not eager to support Democrat priorities. Socialist policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and confiscation of firearms are radical and dangerous, and most Americans reject them.

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In contrast, the very next day, President Trump presented a clear vision for keeping America great in a rousing State of the Union speech. I left my seat many times to applaud the president and his many guests, each of whom had inspiring stories. Two of his guests were Stephanie Davis and her daughter Janiyah from Pennsylvania. Janiyah had been on a waitlist of over half a million students to receive a scholarship to go to a better school. President Trump shocked the crowd by awarding her a scholarship right then and there!

The story of Janiyah was especially important to me because the president called on Congress to pass my bill, the Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act, so that one million American children could have the same opportunity for a scholarship! I developed this bill with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz. President Trump is right that no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school, and I am proud to lead this important Trump administration priority.

The State of the Union ended on an embarrassing note for Democrats as Speaker Pelosi ripped up her copy of the president’s speech. This petty, undignified tantrum plainly displayed the level of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” that she and her cohorts suffer from. They simply cannot stand to see President Trump succeed. They are in crisis after their impeachment plan failed. In fact, it backfired and lost support as their rigged process was exposed. Realizing her mistake, Speaker Pelosi appealed to Facebook and Twitter to have videos of her ripping the speech taken down!

I was proud to be a leader in that fight against the sham impeachment. Thursday, a day after the president was exonerated, I was among a handful of House members invited to the White House to celebrate. It was an amazing honor and surprise to receive President Trump’s personal thanks for fighting by his side throughout this process.

Later Thursday, the President announced that an American airstrike had killed Qassim al-Rimi, a terrorist and the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. AQAP claimed credit for the December 2019 shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station that took the lives of three service members, including Ensign Joshua Watson from Coffee, Alabama. President Trump has made clear that our enemies will pay for taking American lives, and terrorists across the globe now know that he isn’t messing around.

Finally, an excellent January jobs report was released. Employers added 225,000 jobs as the economy continues to strengthen. Importantly, wages for working Americans are rising.

Put it all together and it’s obvious why the president’s approval rating is at the highest levels of his administration. Clearly, the Democrats’ misguided prioritization of an unpopular impeachment scheme has them in dire straits. I vow to keep fighting with the president against radical socialism and to support his America First agenda.

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

Byrne: Fighting to keep the state of the Union strong

(Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook, White House/Flickr, YHN)

This week is one for the history books as President Trump gives his State of the Union address only hours before he is acquitted of impeachment in the Senate. There could hardly be a greater contrast between work being done for the American people and a sham scheme to prevent it.

The president can tout remarkable achievements over the last year despite unprecedented obstruction from Democrats afraid of his success. Facing a gridlocked legislature, President Trump has used his deal-making shrewdness to negotiate deals abroad and fight for his America First agenda at home.

With the Trump tax cuts in full swing and his success rolling back unnecessary regulations, the economy is at full throttle. The blue-collar boom we are experiencing has led to record low unemployment even while Americans are keeping more of their hard-earned money. His tough stance on trading partners like China who have a history of cheating us is paying off. Just weeks ago, he signed a new Phase One trade deal with China.

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In December, with polling showing overwhelming disapproval for their unpopular impeachment focus, Democrats gave in to public pressure and passed the bipartisan U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). President Trump’s deal had been waiting for House action for a year. USMCA will have major benefits for American workers, and Alabama is poised to benefit more than most states. Ironically, many Democrats now taking the credit for USMCA are the same ones who said that a new deal replacing NAFTA couldn’t get done.

The president has also prioritized lowering healthcare costs. His vision is in stark contrast to the socialist proposals offered by the left. Remember, in last year’s State of the Union, when President Trump proclaimed that we would never be a socialist nation, Democrats sat on their hands while Republicans cheered.

President Trump ran on the promise of restoring our national security after years of neglecting our servicemen and women. His America First policies are doing just that. Defense spending has increased, and we are honoring our commitments to our warfighters. While President Trump rightly has questioned our involvement in the Middle East, he has taken firm action when needed. He recently took out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the most dangerous terrorist in the region. And he has proposed a historic Middle East peace deal.

For all the Democrats’ foolish talk about the Senate being a legislative graveyard, Mitch McConnell and his Republican majority have continued confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees at an extraordinary clip. That itself is an amazing accomplishment! Meanwhile, the House has rejected any meaningful legislation and instead continued its impeachment focus. Pushing through partisan messaging bills that won’t become law might please their liberal base, but it does nothing for the American people.

Don’t forget border security, one of President Trump’s key issues. His commonsense policies have lowered the number of illegal border crossings and contributed to American safety not just at the border but in all 50 states. I visited the border last year and know firsthand the challenges there. I will continue fighting with him against sanctuary cities and open borders.

I am pleased that one of President Trump’s priorities for 2020 is school choice. I am honored to lead his school choice legislation in the House and excited to have over 100 cosponsors of my bill. When I met with President Trump at the White House in December to discuss his education priorities, he made clear he will push for action on this initiative this year.

While Democrats will continue seeking their only goal to undermine President Trump, I will continue fighting to keep the state of our union strong, this year and always.

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

Byrne: Walking the walk in the fight for life

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

Last week, tens of thousands of Americans took part in our nation’s most important rally for the unborn, the March for Life. I am so proud of the large number of Alabamians who traveled all the way to Washington to participate. Sadly, it is mostly ignored by the mainstream media. But, this year’s rally received unprecedented support, as President Trump became the first sitting president to attend and address the group!

President Trump’s pro-life record is truly unmatched among presidents. He has been front and center in the fight. He has blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning money. Just last week, his administration challenged the state of California over a rule that violates federal law in mandating insurance plans cover elective abortions.

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Perhaps the most significant contribution President Trump has made to the pro-life cause has been his judicial nominations. The Senate has confirmed 187 of President Trump’s judicial nominations, a staggering number that will leave a permanent legacy. Candidate Trump promised to appoint constitutional conservatives to the courts, and he has kept his word. After eight years of President Obama appointing judicial activists who want to legislate from the bench, we have made remarkable progress in short order restoring integrity to our courts.

President Trump’s two most important nominations have been to the Supreme Court. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are brilliant jurists who truly seek to uphold the Constitution. Each of them could serve another three decades or more on the court.

To appreciate the magnitude of the makeup of the Supreme Court, look no further than Roe v. Wade. Since the horrific ruling in this case, over 60 million unborn children have been aborted. That’s over twelve times the population of Alabama. But, for the first time in my adult life, I can see a path to overturning Roe, thanks to the President’s leadership.

I’m proud of my record of fighting for life and against radical extremists seeking unlimited access to abortions. As a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, I’ve sponsored and fought for legislation to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected, and define that human life begins at conception.

Unfortunately, Washington is no longer a safe place for pro-life Democrats. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said last year, “[A]s a party, we should be 100 percent pro-choice, and it should be non-negotiable.” It is astonishing to see how far the Democrat party has moved. As President Trump correctly stated when explaining his reasoning for attending the March for Life rally, “religious liberty is under siege.”

Look at Senator Gillibrand’s own state. Last year, New York passed a law essentially making abortion legal up until the moment of birth. In explaining a similar proposed law in Virginia, Democrat Governor Ralph Northam said their law would make it legal to abort a baby after birth, essentially permitting doctors to allow infants to die after a failed abortion. This is infanticide! It is unthinkable that such a barbaric act could take place, much less be tolerated, in a civilized nation like ours. I tried to force a vote on legislation making this practice illegal, but the Democrat majority blocked me on the House floor and even turned off my microphone.

Let me be clear. I unequivocally believe that God makes every person in his image. Every single life is precious. I am fully committed to fighting for the unborn. As President Trump said in his address, “every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting.” Thank God we have such an advocate in the White House! I’ll continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump in this fight.

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

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.