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: Supporting state and local government

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

Last week, I was honored to host some of our local mayors, city council members and city officials from Southwest Alabama in Washington to hear about what they do every day for our communities.

I am a firm believer that the best people to run our towns and our communities are not the bureaucrats in Washington or the federal government. The best people to do that are the people who live, work, and play in the same place as the neighbors they represent. That is why I come home to Southwest Alabama every weekend, to be in touch with the people I serve in Washington.

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Everyone wants a great quality of life. Part of that comes down to having good roads and bridges, having high-quality schools, knowing that the fire department, police, EMS and other first responders will be there when we call, and countless other things that happen on a local level.

The federal government is not the best place to regulate those things. Heavy-handed government mandates and rules that impose “we know best” policies on our local communities don’t work. What works in Robertsdale, Brewton or Chatom might not work in Nashville, Boston or Anchorage.

One of the things that has always worked best is to have a strong partnership between our local, state and federal officials. My mission has always been to assist our local leaders on projects when they need our help, but it is not my place to tell our local mayors how to do their job or what will be best for their community. I want to be a part of their team.

This teamwork approach has worked incredibly well when it comes to bringing new jobs to our area. When a prospective business is looking at locating in a new place, they want to know that officials at every level of government are willing to work with them to support their business and their employees.

A good example of this is saving our rural hospitals. In most places, these hospitals are the bedrock of a community. No major business will locate in a town that doesn’t have a hospital. So, that’s why I have been working with our local and state officials to do everything in my power to save our rural hospitals from closing. But, this requires a total team approach from all levels of government.

Another prime example of giving more power back to the local level is Alabama’s Red Snapper recreational fishing season.

In years past, the federal government has put stringent regulations on Gulf Coast fishing that has ended up hurting local fishermen. Those of us in Alabama best understand Alabama issues, and after years of continuous advocating, this year we received great news that the 2019 Red Snapper season for recreational fishermen will take place on three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) from June 1st through July 28th, including July 4th.

As I have said repeatedly, this issue is about more than just fishing. A full Red Snapper season helps boost our coastal economies due to everything from fuel sales to hotel and condo rentals. We must continue pushing for greater state control over our fisheries.

Fixing our Red Snapper season wasn’t done by just one person. From the city councils to the state Department of Conservation to the halls of Congress, it took a total team effort to make a positive impact for our residents.

As long as I have the honor of representing Alabama, I promise to always be a part of the team to make life better for people in our communities. I am dedicated to doing what is best for Alabama through policies that give back to, not take from, our communities.

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

Byrne: Giving our students the best education possible

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This question is probably the single most-asked question of any child throughout the world. Here in the United States, many children are able to achieve their dreams through hard work, dedication and a quality education.

But, for some here in our own country, hard work and dedication are not enough when it comes to circumstances out of their control like where they live or how much their family makes. Too many students find themselves stuck in failing schools.

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Every child has boundless individual potential, and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the opportunity and freedom to realize that potential. To do that, we must ensure all children have access to choice in education.

Education has always been a passion of mine. In fact, concerns over public education first motivated me to run for office and work to make a difference. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve seen firsthand the power a quality education can have on an individual’s life.

So, I have always been an advocate for public education and worked to make sure our schools have the resources they need to do help educate our students. I’ve also fought to limit the heavy hand of the federal government in our classrooms, in an effort to make sure decisions are made by local and state officials who best understand their students.

Whether it was serving on the Alabama State Board of Education or more recently as a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I have made it a priority to put forward solutions to create a better future for our nation’s children.

Most recently, I worked with the Trump administration to introduce the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. This legislation will give students and parents in Alabama and around the country the freedom they deserve to make educational decisions that are right for them.

The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act was developed in consultation with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz as the Trump administration’s leading education proposal. Our bill responds to President Trump’s State of the Union call for greater school choice and builds upon the model that has already been successful in Alabama.

Every student in America should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, and we can help accomplish that goal through a new federal tax credit. Our bill will create a non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses to state-identified nonprofits called Scholarship Granting Organizations.

These scholarships can be used to expand students’ access to a variety of educational opportunities, from advanced or remedial courses to private and homeschooling to CTE opportunities.

It puts control in the hands of states and localities rather than the federal government when it comes to educational choice and scholarships.

Very important to me, the bill does not take a single penny away from public education. I know the vast majority of students in Alabama and in the United States attend public schools, like my children did, and I will remain steadfast in fighting for our traditional public schools, teachers, and students.

Through the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, we will increase opportunity for families to make informed decisions that work for them and their individual needs, rather than cookie cutter solutions that don’t work.

By providing greater freedom in education and continuing to fight for our nation’s children, we can help every student realize their goal of “what they want to be.” In doing so, we can make our state and our country even stronger.

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

Byrne: Defending the Second Amendment

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

This past week, Democrats in Congress again launched an attack on our Constitution and the rights we cherish as Americans. This time, they came after the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms.

H.R. 8, the latest Democrat-led gun control bill does absolutely nothing to prevent criminals or violent persons from getting their hands on firearms.

What H.R. 8 does do is violate the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans, ignores the mental health crisis behind actions of mass violence and limits the Constitutional rights of millions of responsible gun owners.

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I’m a gun owner and hunter myself. I’ve talked to lots of folks from all around Alabama who proudly own guns for sport, work and protection. Congress should not and cannot limit the rights of the American people in the name of politics.

Under the Democrat bill, almost every time a lawful gun owner wants to transfer or sell a gun, he or she will have to go through a government-sanctioned middle-man. Under this bill, no longer could I sell my gun to my cousin or my neighbor in a private transaction.

If this bill were to become law, millions of law-abiding gun owners could suddenly be subject to federal prosecution. Of course, we all know that criminals are going to do what they already do: make illegal transfers of firearms. So, this won’t make any difference in cutting down on crime.

I have a long track record of supporting commonsense bills to provide Alabamians a way to protect themselves while offering smart background check programs and mental health services to those in need. My grandfather was shot and killed by someone suffering from mental illness. I know the importance of providing important resources for those in need without infringing on the rights guaranteed by our Founding Fathers.

The so-called solutions in the Democrat gun control bill do nothing to prevent mass violence. We should not punish law-abiding citizens. Instead, we should listen to responsible gun owners and work on solutions that protect our Second Amendment rights.

I have news for the out-of-touch Democrats: Gun owners of America are watching this debate. They know what H.R. 8 is all about, and they know that this bill is just a sham to chip away at the Second Amendment and our Constitution.

Instead of trying to attack the Second Amendment, we should be trying to protect it. During the debate last week, Speaker Pelosi blocked my amendment to strip out this anti-gun legislation and replace it with nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. Instead of trampling on our Constitution, Democrats could have accepted my amendment and allowed a vote on a bill that would have actually made our country safer.

Our Founding Fathers enshrined the right to keep and bear arms in our nation’s Constitution. Throughout our history, we have seen the importance of the Second Amendment for people to make a living, to provide for their families, and to protect their life and liberty.

It is clear that this bill was nothing more than yet another sham show vote from the Democratic leadership. The gun control bill promises much but delivers very little.

I opposed this bill, and I will oppose any bill that goes against the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. It is my duty as a citizen of the United States and representative of the people of Alabama to defend our Constitution against any effort to roll back the important protections enshrined within it.

One thing is for sure: I will always stand up for our Constitution, the Second Amendment, and the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Alabama and around the United States.

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

Byrne: The nation is at a crossroads on immigration

(CBP/Flickr, B. Byrne/Facebook)

Growing up, my parents taught me the basic values of fairness and following the rules. I think these values were common in households all across our state and country.

In today’s society, those two basic values need to be applied to the ongoing debate about illegal immigration.

In terms of fairness, we have people who are going through the legal process to enter our country, which takes time and effort, only to have people skip that entire process and just walk across our border illegally. That goes against the basic value of fairness.

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Also, we are a nation built on laws, but currently illegal immigrants openly disregard the rules and laws of our country. By not holding them accountable, we are further encouraging a culture where the rule of law does not matter.

Currently, we find ourselves at a crossroads as a nation.

Down one path is the status quo of broken immigration policy, porous borders, and a steady flow of drugs, violence and human trafficking across the southern border.

Down another path is what Democrats advocate for: open borders, limited funding for national security measures at the border, and disregard for the rule of law.

But, down the final path is strong border security, including increased funding for a border wall, cracking down on criminal aliens in the United States, and reforming our broken immigration system in a way that works for American citizens, not for foreign interests.

Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership in Washington is pulling the nation down the path to the left, the path that threatens our national security.

Because of this, the president was recently left with no choice but to declare a national emergency to secure the funds necessary to adequately secure our border. As much as I wish that it had not come to this point, I stand with President Trump on this action to get a handle on our immigration crisis.

If the Democrats in control in Congress will not act in the best interest of the American people, then it is up to the president to take the necessary steps to keep our nation safe.

I have heard from countless people throughout Alabama that they are worried about the influx of drugs and violent crime across our Southern border due to illegal immigration.

We see story after story each week of criminals arrested by the dozen trying to enter our country illegally, murders committed by illegal immigrants who are members of violent gangs and the myriad of deaths caused by overdose from drugs originating in Central and South America.

This must stop.

Once we can get a handle on the countless illegal crossings each week, we can move to reforming our broken system, combatting sanctuary cities, and encouraging people down legal paths to citizenship.

For the officer killed in California at the hands of an illegal immigrant, I will fight this fight. For the three Americas killed in Missouri by an illegal immigrant released without the knowledge of ICE, I will fight this fight. For the young woman raped by a previously-deported illegal immigrant in Shelby County, I will fight this fight.

For the people of Alabama, and for the people of the United States, I will remain committed to seeing this fight through to the end to secure our borders.

We need to return the commonsense, family values of fairness and following the rules to the immigration debate. By doing that, we can take our nation down the path toward secured borders, safer communities and a more prosperous nation.

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

Byrne: Staying focused in a crazy Washington

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

Before the new Congress began at the start of this year, I made a prediction: With the new Democrat majority, we could expect crazy season from the left, with Democrat members taking every chance they could to undermine President Trump.

I don’t claim to have a crystal ball, but I think I hit the nail on the head in this case.

So far in just the first month and a half of the 116th Congress, the Democrat Party has become the Obstructionist Party: They have stood in the way of strong national security measures, our American values, and President Trump.

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We saw a prime example of this just last week when the president was left with no other option to secure our borders and get a handle on the national security crisis there than to declare a national emergency.

Ensuring the safety of the American people is a fight worth fighting, and while I wish it hadn’t come to this point, the Democrats have left President Trump with no choice. We must secure the border and build the wall.

But it seems that Democrat craziness is totally unbounded this year, not just when it comes to border security but on issues of abortion, the environment, and the Second Amendment. They have completely lost sight of our core American values and are not listening to the millions of Americans who still hold fast to those values.

As long as I am in Congress, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep focus in a crazy Washington. I remain dedicated to the issues that matter most to Alabamians, and I will continue to fight for you.

The crisis at the southern border is real, yet Democrats seem intent on doing everything they can to push their open border policies. They want to put a cap on the number of people ICE can detain, but they don’t want to do anything to secure the border. In other words, it seems they just want to let criminals get away without any consequences. We are a nation of laws, and they need to be enforced.

A few weeks ago, House Democrats blocked Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) from testifying during a committee hearing on gun violence. Democrats are pushing new gun laws that would restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans without doing anything to actually prevent crime.

As a victim of gun violence himself, it only seemed appropriate that Congressman Scalise should share his views. The issue, however, was that he still believes in supporting the Second Amendment, as do I, but this was not what the Democrats wanted to hear.

Then we have the “Green New Deal,” which is nothing more than unserious, unfocused political messaging, proposed at the expense of the American people. This plan is poorly thought out, horribly expensive, and puts partisan politics over the American people. Let’s call it out for what it is.

And far too many Democrats in Congress have made it clear they support infanticide, either with outright statements of support for radical abortion measures or through their silence in not condemning late-term and live-birth abortion. In fact, we have attempted to pass a bill to ensure a baby born alive after an attempted abortion receives appropriate medical care, but Democrats even object to that bill.

On every one of these issues, it seems common sense has lost out and Democrats are most interested in pandering to the far left than solving problems.

No matter how out-of-touch, crazy, and disconnected Washington, D.C., and the Democrats get, I will remain steadfast in fighting for the values we hold dear in Alabama.

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

Byrne: Choosing American greatness

(Rep. Byrne's office)

Last week, President Trump gave the State of the Union address to the nation. I can say that in all my time in Washington, this was the best State of the Union I have had the honor of attending, and it seems most Americans agree.

The president’s message was clear: if we stop with the political games and focus on solutions, American greatness knows no bounds. By supporting President Trump’s clear and bold agenda, the American people will be stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

He began by charging us to choose greatness in all that we do as lawmakers and as Americans. The guests the president and First Lady invited to the speech – including war heroes of World War II, relatives of victims of illegal immigration, and those who suffered from drug abuse – were expertly woven throughout the address to demonstrate the greatness that resides in our country.

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It takes these reminders of our greatness to underscore the need to come together to work on issues that matter most to the American people.

Most notably, President Trump again outlined a commonsense strategy to secure our border. After decades of inaction by both parties, it is time we finally fix our broken immigration system, restore the rule of law and keep the American people safe.

He also outlined many issues important to Alabama. From strengthening our military to expanding rural broadband to lowering prescription drug costs, under President Trump’s agenda the people of Alabama stand to benefit, and our state will become even stronger.

I appreciated the president’s call to rebuild American infrastructure. As we know in Alabama, the need for a stronger infrastructure system is vitally important to the overall success of our economy. With better roads, bridges and waterways, we can unlock the extraordinary potential of our economic future.

Rural broadband access is something that folks throughout the state will benefit from. People in rural areas deserve the same economic opportunities as those in urban areas when it comes to Internet access, and I will continue to advocate for greater access to rural broadband in any infrastructure bill put forward by Congress.

Similarly, President Trump is dedicated to the American workforce, something Congress echoed last year through a number of laws to protect workers and. In the same vein, as the president mentioned, lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs will benefit our workforce as well. With month after month of continued growth and positive economic news, it is clear that our conservative policies continue to pay off.

I was thrilled President Trump mentioned the importance of protecting the unborn in his speech. As he said, “Let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.” I couldn’t agree more.

Lastly, President Trump’s call for protecting America’s national security in conjunction with safe and legal immigration is a commonsense approach we as a nation can get behind. Border security is national security. It only makes sense that we should advocate for greater national security and strong borders.

Recently, Democrats have obstructed what is best for the American people: opposing border security measures, supporting infanticide and proposing ill-thought-out and costly plans for our environment.

It is time to stop with the politics of resistance and instead focus on realistic solutions to the problems facing our country.

President Trump is right when he said that great bipartisan achievements in this Congress are possible, especially when we rally behind a commonsense agenda building American greatness. Let’s get it done.

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

Byrne: Supporting our military, repaying our veterans

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

One of the highest honors from my time in Congress has been the many interactions I’ve had with members of our nation’s armed forces and our veterans.

Throughout the long history of the United States, countless Americans have served our country honorably in the military. Many made the ultimate sacrifice.

There is no greater way to say “thank you” to our fighting men and women and our veterans than by ensuring they are taken care of both during and after their service, with the most up-to-date weapons systems and funding to carry out their missions, and with commonsense solutions to veterans issues.

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I am proud to once again serve on the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. These are two important roles that directly impact the state of Alabama and our country.

My work on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee is important to the 4,000 people working at Austal shipyard in Southwest Alabama and the 2,000 Alabamians who work at Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula, Mississippi. These two shipyards are crucial to the U.S. Navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet.

My work on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee is crucial for Alabama as many of the missile defense systems are designed and built in places like Huntsville and Troy. Having a strong missile defense program is obviously vital to the security of our entire nation.

Not only is it necessary to take care of our servicemembers while they are on active duty, but it is our responsibility to care for our veterans as well. A career of service never ends for members of the armed forces, and we cannot fail them.

One of the ways I am continuing to advocate for our veterans is by supporting policies that will get them the benefits they deserve. For example, I am proud to support the Retired Pay Restoration Act to ensure all military retirees with service-connected disabilities get their military retirement and disability payments concurrently.

Currently, veterans with under a 50 percent service-connected disability rating have their disability pay deducted from their retirement pay, even though they are completely different benefits. I will continue to fight for this legislation until our veterans get all of their disability and retirement compensation.

I continue to fight for veterans who were exposed to the toxic herbicide, Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act allows the thousands of veterans of the Vietnam War who served in “blue-water” Navy posts off Vietnam’s shoreline to receive benefits for this service-connected disability.

And last Wednesday, I joined 20 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and the Secretary of the Army to allow American flags to be carried by visitors in Arlington Cemetery.

It only makes sense that in one of the most sacred places in the United States Americans should be able to represent their patriotism openly and clearly through the display of an American flag. It is just a small way we can express our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom our flag represents.

Ensuring our service members can adequately defend and protect our nation both at home and abroad, taking care of our veterans, and honoring those who have given their all is the least we can do as Americans.

Alabama’s role in the defense of our nation, both past and present, is something we should all take immense pride in, and I am glad to know that our great state is paving the way for a safer world and a stronger America.

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

Byrne: How to fix our broken government

(Contributed)

Over the last several weeks, we saw a prime example of how our government is broken. A portion of the federal government shut down, the Coast Guard went without pay as they completed their dangerous missions, and Democrat Members of Congress refused to negotiate after several efforts and deals were offered.

It is clear that Congress and the federal government are broken. Something must be done to make our government operate more effectively, and I have a few ideas of how we can fix our broken system.

The United States is a country wholly unique in the world, and we have been ever since our Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for our great nation.

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Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves,” and, “those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it.”

The guiding principle that underlies the American Democratic system is that the people, not the institutions, hold the ultimate power and authority. We entrust that power to our elected officials who then take the will of the people and craft it into laws that govern our daily lives, in a way that we want to be governed.

Seats in Congress belong to the American people, not any single person elected. Our Founding Fathers never expected individuals to make a career out of Congressional service.

It is for this very reason that I have once again proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would impose term limits on Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Term limits will allow us to keep fresh blood and ideas in the halls of Congress.

Elected officials who spend too much time in Washington become out of touch with what impacts the American people, and term limits would help prevent those in positions of power from becoming stale or biased in their views.

Also in an effort to make our government work, I have proposed another amendment to the Constitution, one that would require the federal government to abide by a balanced budget.

Every family in the United States knows the importance of balancing a household budget.

Businesses, states, counties, and cities must have a balanced budget. Why should the federal government of the most powerful nation in the world not have to play by the same rules.

We must stop passing debt down to future generations, and a balanced budget amendment would require is to address our nation’s spending issues right now.

I have felt so strongly about this that I have introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment at the start of every Congress since I was elected.

Operating in the red is no way to run a household or business, and it is no way to run a government.

These are two commonsense reforms that would help us reform and restore faith in our government. By enacting term limits and drafting a balanced budget, we can ensure that our leaders do not become complacent and finally rein in our national debt.

Thomas Jefferson also said, “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Congress must continue to be responsible to the people who elected them and must not waste their labors through out-of-control spending.

We need term limits, we must balance the budget, and we must never give up on our efforts to form a “more perfect Union.”

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

Byrne: The sanctity of life

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

I am proudly pro-life. Millions of Americans are as well.

The sanctity of human life is immeasurable, and the countless Americans who feel the same way should not have their voices silenced or their opinions rebuked in the mistaken claim of freedom of choice.

Since I have been in Congress, I have consistently stood up for the unborn, and I continue to stand up for life. I am proud of the hundreds of Alabamians, most of them young people, who this past weekend took a stand for life in our nation’s Capital as part of the annual March for Life.

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Those who support pro-life causes support American values, allowing all the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Too often I have seen the national mainstream media cover the handful of counter-protesters who come to speak out against those taking a stand, rather than cover the thousands of people on the side of life.

Why is it that it is so untenable to the Democrat party and those on the far left to want every unborn child to have the same fighting chance at life as they received?

Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, nearly 61 million abortions have been carried out in the United States. That is absolutely unacceptable.

I remain dedicated to doing everything I can to ensure we defund Planned Parenthood, permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion, overturn Roe and ensure all lives are protected.

As a Christian, I believe that we are all created in the image of God. As children of God, from the moment of conception, God’s breath of life resides in us. To abort an unborn child is as much the ending of life as any other form of murder.

Already in 2019, I have taken action on several pro-life initiatives.

As I have done every Congress since I was elected by the people of Southwest Alabama, I have joined the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, a group of House Members who advocate for life in Washington.

Additionally, I have signed on to key legislation to protect the unborn.

One of the bills I have cosponsored is the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2019, which would place a one-year moratorium on federal funding to Planned Parenthood and increase funding to community health centers that do not perform abortions but provide more comprehensive care.

I have also cosponsored the Heart Beat Protection Act, which bans abortion after a detectible heartbeat; the Life at Conception Act, which defines that human life begins at conception; and the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which prohibits sex-selective abortions while protecting women upon whom sex-selective abortions have been performed.

And just last Friday, President Trump agreed to support our stance outlined in a letter I signed, asking him to veto any funding bill that weakens pro-life protections and any bill that weakens federal pro-life policy.

There is a verse that is well known to many parents and grandparents, and the message is clear: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

God has a plan for all of us in life, and he knew that plan even before we were formed. Life begins at conception. God’s plan for us is something we can never know fully, and it is something that no one should ever snuff out.

I will continue to stand for life, for God’s plan for our lives, and for the incredible gift that is a child.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Byrne: Get the show on the road

(Screenshot / YouTube)

It is time for the Democrat leaders in Washington to stop posturing when it comes to border security and end the government shutdown.

The old expression “get the show on the road” is very apt in this situation. But, truth be told, the show is already on. There is no better way to describe the Democrat strategy right now than as a show, playing to their audience.

The Democrats have lost touch with what matters to Americans outside of their bubble. They continue to play to the far-left base of their party in order to placate the loudest voices. But the loudest voices don’t always have the best interests of the American people at heart.

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President Trump has made many efforts to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on a deal, but those efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Last Wednesday, the president asked Speaker Pelosi if she would be willing to negotiate for a deal to open the government quickly and provide funding for border security at a later date. Speaker Pelosi answered “no.” If Democrats aren’t willing to negotiate, then what is President Trump to do? He can’t negotiate with himself.

I have heard from many folks in Alabama expressing their disbelief that Congress has not yet provided the necessary funds to secure our border, build a wall and reopen the remaining 25 percent of the federal government.

I cannot help put echo the sentiment of my fellow Alabamians: why would a member of Congress not support something as commonsense as border security to end the partial shutdown?

In the past, Democrats have supported these commonsense national security priorities such as fencing, barriers, and increased border funding, but there is something different going on here.

It appears that it is not enough for the Democrats to earn a win. Instead, it must be that President Trump gets a loss. And the sad part is, the people that lose the most in this situation are the hardworking American taxpayers contributing their time, efforts, and skills to the betterment of our communities.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees are currently on furlough, some continuing to work without pay. Last Friday, many of those people missed a paycheck. That is simply unacceptable, especially when the solution is one that both puts these people back to work and improves our national security.

More than this, Americans have been greatly affected already by illegal immigration and the crisis taking place on our southern border.

A big issue is the flow of illegal drugs. Hundreds of thousands of men and women in the United States have fallen victim to the evils and unbelievable effects of drug addiction and overdose. Many of those illegal drugs have their origins in Central and South America.

All throughout the country, we have heard horror stories of illegal immigrants committing horrendous crimes. We had an illegal immigrant in Shelby County, Alabama rape a young girl, and everyone has heard the story of the police officer in California who was murdered by an illegal immigrant. In many of these crimes, the illegal immigrant had even been deported before and managed to reenter the country illegally a second time.

Crimes happen every day, but these crimes were preventable.

We must act, we must enforce border security, and we must provide the funds necessary to get the job done. I call on Democrats to stop with the show, come to the table, negotiate with President Trump, and let’s get the government back open.

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

Byrne: What’s ahead in 2019

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

With 2018 behind us, it is time to start looking at what you can expect from Washington in 2019. Under Republican leadership, we in Congress aimed to make America better off, and thanks to our many victories through conservative policies, we accomplished that goal.

Under Democrat control, there is no telling what craziness will come out of the House of Representatives.

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We have already seen this past week the extent House Democrats will go to in undermining our president, with one going as far as to use profanity at an event in describing her efforts to impeach President Trump.

Even more have spoken out against commonsense initiatives to fund border security and lower taxes.

It seems that the new Democrat majority has gone so far out there that they, like Alice, have gone “Through the Looking Glass” into a world of topsy-turvy nonsense for which the United States will reap the consequences.

Rest assured, though, that in spite of this atmosphere of negativity I will continue to advocate for the American people. To give you an insight into how I will accomplish that, below are just a few of my priorities this year.

Strong leadership will be needed to support traditional family values, conservative principles, and to stand up for President Trump and his “drain the swamp agenda.” I will seek to provide this leadership in opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s liberal priorities that are out of line with Alabama values.

Advocating for sound national security policy is vital for the safety of the American people. Regardless of Democrat obstruction, I will continue to fight for a border wall and increased security measures along our southern border to keep Americans safe.

Rebuilding our military is essential for the safety and security of the United States both at home and abroad, and Alabama is vital to our country’s national defense efforts. I will focus on ensuring Alabama’s service members, military installations and suppliers receive proper attention from the Pentagon and resources necessary for them to fulfill their important missions.

I will also ensure that the needs of Alabama’s large veteran population are met and continue to advocate to give our veterans better care both inside and outside of the VA system.

Although the economy is improving throughout Alabama, our rural communities continue to struggle, and our agriculture community faces many challenges. I will support sound federal investment in Alabama’s rural communities in areas like agriculture, broadband, healthcare and infrastructure to continue their revitalization.

The core element of economic development is leadership. I will continue to provide that leadership for Southwest Alabama to marshal resources, advocate for Alabama workers and foster a climate of business development in our great state.

Another element of this priority is developing Alabama’s workforce and providing for our diverse educational institutions. We must remain committed to building and training a workforce to meet the needs of the 21st Century economy.

A key bipartisan goal of this Congress will be to work with the President on an infrastructure package. Starting with the I-10 bridge, Alabama has a variety of infrastructure needs that should benefit from any such package. I will continue to see that the infrastructure needs of the state are properly accounted for and that attention is also given to projects in rural areas.

Every day I take immense pride in representing the people of our state and the people of our great nation. I will always take my role to heart because you depend on it, and I will always take the interests of Alabamians to the Floor because we cannot let the insanity of the left negatively impact the course of the United States.

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

Bradley Byrne’s 2018 year in review

(U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

2018 was a landmark year in many ways for Alabama and the United States. From defense funding to town halls, agriculture to red snapper, there was much to celebrate this year and much to anticipate in the next. Join me as we take a look back at the past year.

I kicked things off in January by celebrating my 100th town hall meeting in Grove Hill. I always enjoy meeting the folks in our area and hearing about the issues that matter most to them. This year, I hosted 25 town hall meetings throughout Southwest Alabama.

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We made real strides in 2018 when it comes to our national defense, including passing much-needed funding for Alabama’s many defense priorities. I was proud to vote in favor of a funding bill that allows for the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and one Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), which are built by Austal USA in Mobile. This funding helps us move toward a 355-ship Navy.

This marked the first time in ten years that we were able to fully fund our military on time, and in a bipartisan way. We funded critical Alabama defense priorities like the Austal shipyard; additional UH-60M Black Hawk, Lakota and Apache helicopters, which are critical to the Army aviation mission at Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass; $22.4 million went to the Stryker Upgrade program, which supports the work at the Anniston Army Depot; we increased funding to address cyber threats to our missile defense systems, which is critical to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.

This year, we were able to celebrate great developments for our local fishermen and coastal communities. In April, a 47-day red snapper season for recreational fishermen was announced. And just this December, NOAA Fisheries published a new rule to increase the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. These latest numbers further drive us forward in the fight for greater state control over the red snapper fishery.

Thanks to bipartisan reforms to our career and technical education programs, we are better able to give students tangible skills that help them succeed in real-world careers. In July, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which made reforms to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to ensure more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need.

In 2018, we made real progress on infrastructure. We passed critical legislation to support our nation’s water infrastructure, including the Port of Mobile. We are also closer than ever before to building the I-10 Bridge.

And lastly, we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement on the 2018 Farm Bill to benefit our farmers and foresters in Alabama. The Farm Bill will allow for improved crop protections and loan options for farmers, incentivize rural development, support animal disease prevention and management, and will continue our nation’s commitment to agriculture and farmers. I am especially pleased to see the substantial resources provided to improve rural broadband access to communities.

The many victories we were able to secure for the American people cannot be condensed into this brief article, but rest assured that this year, Alabama and America are better off for the accomplishments made by the 115th Congress.

The next year will bring many changes with the Democrat majority in the House, but my New Year’s Resolution is simple: I will continue to fight for the people of Alabama each and every day.

From all of my staff, my family, and myself, we wish you a Happy New Year!

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

Byrne: Christmas traditions old and new

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

I was recently asked what my favorite Christmas tradition is and found that a surprisingly hard question to answer.

It seems that nearly every moment is a tradition with my family, and that makes it hard to pick just one.

From making gumbo Christmas Eve morning to wrapping presents to gathering on Christmas Day, there are so many individual moments that add up to make the season special.

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This year, we have added new traditions to our family’s celebration with our grandchildren, MacGuire and Ann-Roberts. There was no greater scene of pure joy than when we picked out our Christmas tree with them, and then as they helped Rebecca and me decorate the tree.

After I thought more on my what favorite Christmas tradition is, I reflected on why we celebrate the Christmas season in the first place.

The church’s liturgical calendar begins with the season of Advent. From the lighting of the first candle, the new year has begun, anticipating the birth of our Savior on Christmas. The entirety of the year depends upon the preparation for and celebration of the birth of Christ. Epiphany, Lent, and Easter all rely on that first candle’s light proclaiming the coming of the Lord, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Similar, yet still very different, to our holiday preparations today, there were many small moments that added up to the joy of that first Christmas night. From the angel proclaiming the news to Mary, Mary telling Joseph, and the long trek to Bethlehem, many small parts had to come together in the Town of David.

My favorite Christmas tradition is without a doubt going to church as a family on Christmas Eve and worshipping Jesus on his birth.

From the light of the first candle, all those in attendance on Christmas Eve light their own candles. No one person’s candle could light the church, but together, we all fill the church with the soft amber glow.

In the same way, the good news of the birth of Christ cannot be proclaimed by one person alone. His light must be carried by millions, proclaiming His word and salvation.

After the readings, hymns, prayers, homily, and communion my favorite portion of the service occurs.

The first few bars of Silent Night are played, and the church joins in together with the choir. Slowly, all the lights in the church are extinguished, and we are left to sing the last verse in darkness.

The last line fades into the dark of the night, “sleep in heavenly peace…” and all is still.

That moment of calm reflection on the entirety of the past year, the highs and lows, rejoicing and tears, makes one think of how truly blessed we are in our daily lives.

Those living in the darkness of fear, illness, poverty, or other challenges this year, I hope you take comfort this Christmas season in the words written in John 1:5, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

For my family, friends, and staff, I am thankful for the past year we have shared together and anticipate the joys of the next.

And to the people of Southwest Alabama, I say thank you for your generosity, kindness, and prayers throughout the years. I look forward to hearing from you and serving you next year.

As you celebrate your favorite Christmas traditions this year, I hope you take a moment to give thanks for your blessings and remember the birth of our Savior.

From my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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

Byrne: A week of good news

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

There was much to celebrate this past week in Washington.

That sentence may surprise you if you just go off what you hear from the national news media, but the reality is we continue to get work done here in the People’s House.

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To be clear, there is still work to be done, and that starts with passing funding necessary to secure the border and protect the American people. That said, I think it is worth pausing for a moment and reviewing the wins from this past week.

One of the biggest wins last week was passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

As I have said before, our farmers and foresters are our future. I am pleased to have voted for this bipartisan legislation to better support our farmers in Alabama and throughout the country.

The 2018 Farm Bill will allow for improved crop protections and loan options for farmers, incentivize rural development, support animal disease prevention and management, and will continue our nation’s commitment to agriculture and farmers.

I am especially pleased to see the substantial resources provided to improve rural broadband access to communities. Providing Internet access to people in rural Alabama is absolutely critical to economic development and the success of these communities in the 21st Century.

A few of the other provisions in the bill will greatly benefit the cotton and peanut growers here in Alabama; help maintain access to crop insurance through reduced premiums and waived fees; boost critical funding for feral swine control; and restore funding for trade promotion efforts in an attempt to keep pace with trading competitors around the world.

Most importantly, the 2018 Farm Bill will help equip and train the next generation of farmers both here in Alabama and throughout the United States. I was proud to support this bill, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law.

Another piece of good news we received this week was the passage of a bill to help drain the Washington swamp.

The American people are sick of Congress being able to play under different rules than the rest of the country, and that must change.

That is why I am proud to be one of the leaders on the effort to reform the way sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill to increase transparency and accountability.

No longer will members of Congress be able to use taxpayer dollars to pay settlements for their own misconduct when it comes to sexual harassment. No longer will members of Congress be able to cover up their personal wrongdoings at the expense of the American people.

It was important for Congress to make this statement. With this legislation, we did the right thing. By doing the right thing, we not only do right by the people who work around us and for us, but we do right by the American people.

This has been a tough fight, but with these reforms, we will make the Washington swamp a little less swampy and shine light on what is happening in the halls of Congress.

With this week of good news, it is also important to remember that the best news of all will be celebrated next week: a small baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

This good news is the birth of our Savior, bringing God’s light directly into the world through His son.

It is easy to lose sight of the meaning of Christmas with all the bustle of daily life and routine. But this week, I challenge you to stop and remember what this season is about in preparation for the good news yet to come.

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

Bradley Byrne: The light and life of President George H.W. Bush

(AJ Guel/Flickr)

Our nation came together last week as we mourned the loss of a truly great American. No matter our race, religion, creed or political party, we were drawn toward the light that was President George H.W. Bush.

His life spanned nearly 100 years of American history and was dedicated to serving the United States.

History often records the works of great leaders. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill all led with a sense of service and devotion to their people. But what makes a leader truly special is humility, humor and a deep moral code guiding their every day.

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President Bush embodied those very attributes.

His biographer, Jon Meacham, summed up the Bush life code best in his eulogy, saying, “Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.”

In every walk of life, President Bush did just those things. Integrity guided everything he undertook, and his lifetime of achievements testify to this. He was a decorated war hero in the Navy during WWII, an extremely successful businessman in Texas, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the U.S. Liaison to the People’s Republic of China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice President and president of the United States of America.

His sense of humor was always charming, sometimes teasing, but never out of malice or needling. He knew how to tell and take a good joke, and he loved to make people laugh.

He took everything he did seriously and with dignity. His first and foremost goal was to serve the American people to the best of his ability and let the thousand points of light in our communities shine bright by one small act of kindness and devotion to each other at a time.

In his inaugural address, President Bush emphasized this point: “What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?”

Since his presidency, George H.W. Bush has remained an example of leadership. For him, it was never about accolades as much as it was about service to the American people.

He was the brightest of those thousand points of light in everything he did. The light that shone through him came from his devotion to his country, to his family, and to God.

I had the honor to pay my respects to President Bush in the Capitol Rotunda and attend the funeral service held in the National Cathedral last week. It was the most moving church service I have ever attended. The testimony shared by everyone there spoke to a life well lived and firmly grounded.

He loved life and loved the people he spent it with. As his son, President George W. Bush, said at the service, “The idea is to die young as late as possible. … As he aged, he taught us how to grow old with dignity, humor and kindness. And, when the good Lord finally called, how to meet Him with courage and with joy in the promise of what lies ahead.”

President George H.W. Bush will be remembered as a true American leader; someone who served totally, cared deeply, laughed fully and loved completely.

As we move on to the New Year, I hope that in some small way we can embody just a small measure of those traits. If we do, one can only imagine how much brighter the light of our nation will shine.

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

Byrne: ‘I am committed to trying to get a few more wins for Alabama and America before the next Congress starts’

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

Some of the greatest sporting events in history have come down to the wire. Those bottom of the ninth, fourth and inches, double-overtime plays are what stand out in our memories as the greatest successes or the worst defeats in sports history.

Similarly, we here in Washington are entering our own home stretch of the 115th Congress. It has been a long year filled with many victories for the people of Alabama, but there is still work to be done.

Next year, the game will change completely. With Democrats taking control of the House, things will be different.

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Where bipartisan progress can be made, we must take advantage of it. Instead of being the “resistance,” we should be the loyal opposition. Loyal to the country but opposing policies and ideas that do not match up with our conservative values and beliefs.

I promise you two things that won’t change no matter who is in charge of the House: I will put Alabama’s priorities first, and I will support President Trump and his pro-America agenda.

For now, the next two weeks will be like the bottom of the ninth in Washington. We still need to pass a Farm Bill that works for our Alabama farmers and foresters, ensure the national flood insurance program continues, pass a funding bill for the remaining portions of the federal government, and protect our Southern border.

As I have said before, our farmers are our future. Without the tireless efforts of farmers all across the nation, life as we know it would not exist. I am hopeful we can pass a strong Farm Bill by the end of the year to provide greater protections for Alabama farmers and ensure benefits for rural America.

The flood insurance program is very important for those of us in coastal Alabama, and I want to see the program reformed and strengthened in a way that protects our coastal communities. We cannot let the program expire, so I will be pushing hard to get the program reauthorized.

Similarly, we must work to fund the remainder of the federal government. We currently have around three-quarters of the government funded for next year, including the critical funding needed to rebuild our military. This was the first time in a decade that we have been able to reach this point on time and in a bipartisan way.

Now, we must address funding for agencies like the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security. I want to see a funding bill that reflects the need to rein in wasteful spending while also supporting programs and projects important to Alabama.

It is imperative that any funding bill also help secure our southern border. It is clear that our immigration system is broken, and we must fix it. First, however, we must build President Donald Trump’s border wall and stem the flow of illegal immigration.

I have a solution to provide funding for the wall: the 50 Votes for the Wall Act. By using the budget reconciliation process, we can avoid Democrat obstruction in the Senate and secure the funds necessary to complete this task. I hope my colleagues will make the right decision for the country and bring my bill up for a vote.

These next two weeks will be the last play of a tough-fought game. As we near the goal line, I am committed to trying to get a few more wins for Alabama and America before the next Congress starts.

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

Byrne: ‘Border security is national security’

(U.S. CBP/Flickr)

There are no two ways about it: illegal immigration is illegal. The images of a caravan of illegal immigrants trying to push across our southern border are deeply troubling.

We have laws in the United States for a reason. Everyone is bound by the rule of law, and we must all abide by the law to live in a civil society. There are ways to enter our country through clear, legal processes that have been in place for decades, used by those that show respect for our country.

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To this end, there are hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world who gain citizenship every year. According the Pew Research Center, around 19.8 million naturalized citizens currently live in the United States. We are a nation of immigrants and are proud of that fact.

But, there are correct, legal ways to become a citizen in our country.

Amassing thousands and marching on our southern border, or even just one person crossing the border illegally, is not the right way to gain citizenship.

No one is more frustrated by illegal immigration than those who followed the law and proper process to enter our country the right way. I’ve heard from these legal immigrants at various public meetings over the years, and they are some of the most passionate about strong border security. Many see it as a matter of fairness.

I visited Honduras and Guatemala at the beginning of October to learn more about what is driving much of the illegal immigration. It is true that there is much corruption, crime and hardship in Central America. But, it cannot be stressed enough: illegal immigration is illegal.

Also according to the Pew Research Center, roughly 11.3 million illegal immigrants currently live in the United States, roughly 3.5 percent of our total population. It remains clear that our immigration system is broken and has been for some time. After years of ineffective policy and Democrat obstruction, it is time we come to a solution that works for the American people.

Any immigration reform effort must start with border security. That is why I introduced the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, which creates a pathway to build President Trump’s border wall and help secure our southern border.

The bill creates a new mandatory spending program, providing up to $25 billion, to fully fund President Trump’s border wall. The bill directs this money be used by the secretary of Homeland Security to construct physical barriers and associated detection technology, roads, and lighting along the southern border.

We have passed bills funding the wall out of the House previously, only to see those bills stall out in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to pass wall funding. That’s why my bill would use the reconciliation process to build the wall. Under the reconciliation process, only 50 votes are necessary for passage of bills. This would allow us to overcome Democrat obstruction and provide the critical money to the Trump Administration that they need to protect our borders.

Not only would my bill fully fund the wall, but it would take the wall building program out of the appropriations process and prevent Democrats from bottling up funding in future years.

It is critically important that we pass my bill, the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, by the end of the year in order to help protect the American people and finally secure our southern border.

Border security is national security. We must secure our borders if we are to secure our future as a country.

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

Byrne: Let us give thanks

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Facebook)

On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln issued a Proclamation on Thanksgiving establishing the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday, encouraging every American – at home and abroad – to give pause and give thanks.

Thanksgiving had existed before in America. There was the First Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in Massachusetts in 1621, of course, and Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison also issued proclamations encouraging the celebration of Thanksgiving.

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It is interesting that during a time as perilous as the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln entrenched this holiday of gratitude and togetherness into the American year.

1863 was a time of divisiveness and uncertainty, and yet people throughout the country could still find things to be thankful for.

Only two months after this proclamation, on December 3, 1863, the final symbolic decoration was added to the outside of the Capitol Dome in Washington: a 19-foot tall statue known simply as Freedom.

The freedoms we enjoy today are some of the greatest things we can be thankful for. For many throughout the world, the freedoms we enjoy do not exist for them.

As we gather with friends and family, I hope you will take time to answer this simple question: what are you thankful for this year?

For myself, I am extremely thankful for my family, my friends and for the opportunity I have to serve you in Washington.

I am thankful for the many pieces of landmark legislation we were able to pass this year, including fully funding our military for next year, providing funds for vital water infrastructure projects, and enacting meaningful change to the G.I. Bill and the Veteran’s Choice Program.

I am also thankful for all of the positive economic news this year: our thriving economy and jobs market are creating more opportunities for people in Alabama and around the country.

With good news there is also bad. The acts of violence we have seen over recent months in Pennsylvania and California demonstrate the amount of evil there is still to combat in this world. The extremely deadly wildfires currently raging in California causes our hearts to ache for all those affected so unexpectedly and so close to the holidays.

But even in these tragedies, there are things to be thankful for. The first responders who risk their lives to help those in need; the medical professionals who provide service to the sick and those in pain; and perhaps the thing for which we as Americans can be most thankful is our interminable spirit to come together as one, help our neighbors, and make the world a better place to live through one small act of kindness at a time.

More personally, I am thankful to be a child of a loving, forgiving and all present God. I’m also thankful to call Southwest Alabama home.

Of course, I am thankful for my wonderful family; every moment I get to spend with Rebecca, our children and our grandchildren is a moment I feel truly blessed.

Lastly, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I have again to serve the people of Southwest Alabama over the next Congress.

There is a memorable verse from the book of John that reads, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

One of the truths we can hold firmly to this Thanksgiving is this: we in the United States are richly blessed with life, prosperity, and freedom. Knowing that, we can be very thankful indeed.

From my entire staff, family and myself, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

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

Byrne: Words cannot express our gratitude to those who served

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

One hundred years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the world’s largest, deadliest and costliest war to that date drew to an end. The guns that boomed over field and forest in Europe fell silent.

World War I was over.

Over 116,000 Americans had lost their lives.

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One year later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a statement to the nation in celebration of the first Armistice Day, expressing his thoughts on the war’s end: “To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

In 1938, twenty years after the Armistice, Congress formally recognized Armistice Day as a national holiday “dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

Unfortunately, the “war to end all wars” was only the precursor to an even deadlier, costlier war.

The next year, World War II broke out across Europe, a war that would cost the lives of over 400,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

For a particular Alabamian and veteran of WWII, the celebration of Armistice Day was not quite recognition enough for the service and sacrifice of veterans who had served, not just in WWI, but for all those who had worn the uniform of our nation.

Raymond Meeks, a native of Birmingham, brought the idea of a national Veterans Day, to be held on what was then Armistice Day, to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Gen. Eisenhower greatly supported this idea, and in 1947 Weeks led the first national celebration of Veterans Day right here in Alabama.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law the formal celebration of Veterans Day here in the United States, dedicated to the memory of all those who served our country in the armed forces.

To this day, words cannot express our gratitude for that service.

Today, as I serve in Congress, it is an incredible honor to know that I am able to represent a free people thanks to the service, dedication and sacrifice of our veterans.

That is why I advocate so strongly for our nation’s veterans. We need to provide them with proper access to educational and workforce opportunities, we must work towards a health care system that actually gets them the care they need and we must help them get the benefits they earned.

Just this year, I voted to provide greater funding for programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), positive reforms to the G.I. Bill and better access to career and technical education for veterans to reenter the civilian workforce. Additionally, my office has helped to resolve hundreds of cases for veterans and their families right here in Southwest Alabama.

Service in the military is so much more than just a job. It is a dedication to support and defend the Constitution and the people of the United States, both at home and abroad. That service is immeasurable, and I am humbled to represent so many of those who have fought for our freedoms.

The words of President Eisenhower on the first official Veterans Day stand as a charge for today: “Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting and enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

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

Byrne: No place, no time for hate

(Pixabay)

At a recent church service, the sermon focused on the 12th chapter of Mark’s gospel, which describes Jesus’ answer to a question from a scribe about which Commandment is “first of all.”

In it, Jesus replies with the Shema. He says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Even though Jesus was not asked about a “second Commandment,” he adds to the Shema, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In response, for once, a scribe agrees with Jesus.

It seemed timely to hear this verse and to hear a modern-day minister preach on it. Just a few weeks ago, 11 people were tragically killed at a Jewish synagogue near Pittsburgh. These innocent Jews were killed by a man filled with hate, much like the murders of innocent African-American Christians in a Charleston church three years ago. These horrific events remind us that evil is not a superstition, but an all too real presence in our society.

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The Old Testament and Jesus are crystal clear: the very essence of God is love.

Therefore, anyone who hates another person acts against God and his purposes for humankind. Jesus took it another step by joining the Commandment to love one another with the Commandment to love God. Saint John in his first letter is explicit. He writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Our obligation to love one another applies to everyone. Indeed, the very presence of hate inside us is the work of evil, and we should all strive against that evil in our own lives. And when a particularly tragic work of evil happens, as happened in Pittsburgh, we need to speak out so that we reinforce our collective resolve against it.

In the heart of election season, it is especially important to remember that more unites us than divides us. As Americans – and as humans – we are united by common bonds of love, faith and understanding. Far too often, we get caught up in the areas of disagreement, instead of realizing that far more brings us together.

We are all imperfect humans made by our Creator. While we are often divided by where we live, our age, our background, our race or our gender, we are brought together by many important common factors.

My study of U.S. history long ago convinced me that our national principle of the equality of all people, explicit in The Declaration of Independence and reiterated by President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, is rooted in our Founders’ understanding of the Bible’s clear teaching that we are all created and loved by God, and therefore must love and must value one another. So violent attacks on people because of their race or religion are truly un-American as well.

An attack on any human because of their religious beliefs or the color of their skin or their background is an attack on all of us and the values we hold most dear. When we let these actions further divide, we only fuel the fire of hatred. Instead, we should use events like we saw in Pittsburgh to unite us and bring us closer together.

So, please allow me to add my voice with many others against the evil of these and other acts of violence. There is no place, and this is no time, to hate.

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

Byrne: Our farmers are our future

(Rep. Bradley Byrne)

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting many fine farmers and foresters throughout Southwest Alabama to learn more about the incredible work they do on a daily basis. This was part of my annual “Ag Matters” agricultural tour, which brings me to farms and forests in each of the six counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Forestry in Alabama first began in Clarke County, and that is where I began my tour. I was pleased to learn more about how the people at Canfor Southern Pine carry on the forestry tradition to this day.

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Not only are they the largest employer in Jackson, Canfor produces high-quality lumber products that are used all throughout the Eastern United States. At this mill alone, they produce around 110 million board feet per year in lumber products. To produce this much material, they rely on the sustainable harvesting of private timberlands throughout our region.

I had a chance to tour some of these private timberlands and learn more about ways owners are working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered and threatened species. It is important that we find solutions that work for both our environment and for those trying to make a living through sustainable practices.

Animals such as the gopher tortoise and the black pine snake are threatened in certain areas of Alabama. Timberland owners and workers want to protect our environment, as a healthy environment is critical to their future. But, they should not be unduly limited by the government in the work they do.

I was able to talk with several foresters from all around Southwest Alabama at a forestry roundtable hosted at a local branch of Alabama Ag Credit. The people at Ag Credit also know that our farmers and foresters are our future and believe in providing them with sound financial options through responsible lending and thorough financial counseling.

As I continued my tour, I saw some excellent examples of topiary management at a garden nursery in Mobile, learned about the bumper crop of cotton this year at farms in Escambia and Baldwin counties and was informed of the status of this year’s peanut harvest.

This past year, I was one of the leading advocates to get cotton back in Title I of the Disaster Package to provide further assistance and recovery options for farmers adversely affected by unforeseen natural circumstances.

One of the biggest takeaways from my tour this year was just how fortunate we are that we were not more directly impacted by Hurricane Michael. I’m dedicated to working with Representative Martha Roby on continued recovery efforts for farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout South Alabama. We need to make sure they receive the necessary federal and state assistance they deserve to get through these unexpected and difficult times.

One thing is certain: as we enter the final legislative session of this year, we must reauthorize the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill will provide greater protections for the cotton and peanut growers in our area and for other farmers and foresters throughout Alabama and the nation.

Without the tireless efforts of producers all across the nation, life as we know it would not exist. From providing the food we eat, to the raw materials for the clothes we wear, to the foundational building elements all around us, our farmers and foresters impact our daily lives in truly tangible ways.

We owe it to them to fight for more protections to help create a stronger future for all of Alabama, and we must always remember that our farmers are our future.

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

Byrne: Conservative policies are working

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

Rarely in today’s world of instant communication and “the loudest voice wins” politics do we hear positive stories in the news cycle. Now, though, I would like to draw attention to a story that has proven to be good news, but has, for the most part, not received the coverage it deserves: conservative policies are working.

In the past two years, the Republican-controlled Congress has passed over 1,000 bills out of the House of Representatives, and almost 250 of them were signed into law by President Trump. That’s roughly 28 percent more bills that have passed out of the House than in years past.

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With the bills that have been signed into law, we have funded around 75 percent of the government on time for the first time in a decade. About 80 percent of the bills passed have been through bipartisan efforts, and 100 percent of the bills are pro-growth, pro-defense and pro-America legislation.

Part of our pro-America agenda has focused on preparing our students to enter the workforce with the necessary skills they need to thrive in today’s job market. One of the most prevalent myths in society today is that students must have a four-year degree to succeed. That’s just not true.

Thanks to bipartisan reforms to our career/technical education programs, we can give students a stepping stool directly into jobs after graduation or into post-secondary education programs centered around tangible skills and real-world careers.

Thanks to legislation like last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we are seeing confidence in our economy soar to record levels. Small business satisfaction and job openings are both at all-time highs, and our unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level in nearly 50 years. Right here in Alabama, we are experiencing record low unemployment and more Alabamians are working than at any point in our state’s history.

We have fully funded the military to help rebuild our forces after cuts under former President Barack Obama. Our servicemen and women will receive the largest pay raise in nine years, better taking care of those who protect us. And, these funds will equip them with newer and improved systems so they can better execute the mission of keeping Americans safe both at home and abroad.

We have passed legislation to take better care of our veterans as well. Service to our nation doesn’t end when the uniform comes off, and our veterans deserve to have the benefits they earned.

Improvements to the Veterans Choice Program will allow veterans to better access the health care they need at a convenience they deserve. Additionally, changes to the GI Bill will allow education benefits to better work for both veterans and their families.

We have also made progress on improving our nation’s infrastructure. Landmark legislation will make it easier to improve our waterways, ports and airports. Right here at home, we are closer than ever before to building the I-10 Bridge and completing improvements to the Port of Mobile.

Even with all the above accomplishments, there is still much work to be done.

For example, securing our border for the future is a must to ensure American safety and protect our assets here at home. That’s why I have proposed the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, an innovative solution to fund the border wall and overcome Democrat obstruction in the Senate.

While there are still challenges ahead, there is no doubt that with conservative policies the American people are better off now and getting stronger for tomorrow. As long as I serve in Washington, I will always support policies that put Americans first and work for a stronger future for all of Alabama.

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

Byrne: Water infrastructure vital to Alabama’s economy

(M. Kittrell/Alabama NewsCenter)

There are very few places in the United States that can boast the sort of diverse infrastructure we have here in Alabama. There are 11 interstates, over 3,000 miles of freight rail, 5 commercial airports, and more than 132,000 miles of rivers and stream channels in our state.

One of our state’s most important pieces of infrastructure is the Port of Mobile, the 10th largest port and fastest growing container terminal in the United States. With 41 berths, 5 million square feet of warehouses and yards, and covering 4,000 total acres, it has an economic impact of around 135,000 jobs in Southwest Alabama and generates more than $22 billion per year in economic value.

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Recent expansions and developments at the Port will only further grow the economic impact of the Port on not only Southwest Alabama but our entire state. For example, the recent announcement about a new roll-on/roll-off vehicle processing facility at the Port will help our state’s automotive manufacturing industry continue to grow.

Even with these impressive facts, it has been clear that our infrastructure throughout the country is in need of updates, repairs, and overhauls to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of transportation and innovation in order to compete economically on the world stage.

Last week, in a major bipartisan effort, Congress sent a piece of legislation to President Trump’s desk that will help to unlock the full economic potential of our region and state.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed the Senate last week, after passing out of the House a few weeks back. This bill authorizes funding for waterway projects, port improvement projects, and other important water infrastructure projects in all 50 states. Not only will this allow for much-needed infrastructure improvements, but the bill reinstates a “Buy America” provision for federally funded projects, meaning a boost for American steel producers.

Commonsense legislation like this will create jobs, incentivize the use of American-made products, and build our nation’s capabilities to produce, package, and transport goods all around the globe. It will also make our drinking water safer, improve our wastewater systems, combat algae blooms, and restore our nation’s beaches through grant programs.

The Army Corps of Engineers can move forward on improving our dams, locks, reservoirs, and shipping channels. We have a major Army Corps project that needs attention right here in Southwest Alabama. The project to deepen and widen the Mobile Bay Ship Channel has the ability to fundamentally alter the economic potential of the Port and create more jobs in our state. Senator Richard Shelby has long been a champion for this project, and I am committed to working with him to make it a reality.

Our shipyards, airports, and rail yards will all see an impact from waterway projects like this, and I am thankful to the members of the Senate and my colleagues in the House for passing this water infrastructure legislation to help propel Alabama even further into the 21st Century.

The future of Alabama rests upon our ability to look beyond the short term and into what will set us up for success for years to come. Focusing locally on important infrastructure projects will spur economic growth through business investment and job creation, and it will open up opportunities we don’t even know exist yet.

Investing in our infrastructure today will lead to a stronger tomorrow. I applaud the work of my colleagues in both the House and the Senate in making a better economic future possible through this vital water infrastructure legislation.

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

Byrne: Time to do something about the opioid epidemic

(Rep. B. Byrne/Facebook)

One of the things we pride ourselves on as Alabamians is taking care of each other. Not only should this mean we take care of those we know or our next-door neighbors, it should also mean taking care of all those throughout our region, especially those experiencing hardships.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anywhere from 115 to nearly 200 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Last year alone, roughly 72,000 people died from this public health crisis. No community or group is exempt from the crisis. This is not a political issue. The opioid epidemic has been going on for far too long, and it is time that something be done about it.

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It became clear early in the opioid epidemic, as we were just beginning to understand the problem, that treating the opioid crisis would require assistance from every level of government, but also from the private sector. This is more than a single statewide issue, or even a regional issue. The entirety of our country is being affected: every death is another loved one, friend, or neighbor that won’t see their loved ones again.

In Congress, we knew we needed to start looking for ways to support those in need in our own backyard, all across the nation. When it comes to a drug crisis like this, prevention comes down to early detection within the community, proper medical treatments, and patient support programs.

Last month, the House passed landmark legislation to address the opioid epidemic. Last Wednesday, the Senate passed that bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, and it will now be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

SUPPORT stands for Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment. This multi-pronged solution will be able to better detect, treat, and provide recovery opportunity for those at risk or suffering from opioid abuse or overdose in our communities.

Our bipartisan bill will both establish and expand upon early-detection programs to better spot those who may be struggling with opioid addiction. It will also increase health care providers’ ability to treat patients with effective solutions, and it will establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries under Medicaid.

This legislation is the most significant congressional action against a single drug crisis in our nation’s history: it is bipartisan, bicameral and it is a plan that will provide assistance to those who need it most.

This legislation comes on top of efforts over the last two years to increase funding for grant programs that help states deal with the opioid crisis. Top-down, government-knows-best solutions rarely work, so I support giving greater resources to allow states and local communities to develop programs that best meet the needs of their residents.

Oftentimes we can become wrapped up in our own world of heading to and from work, catching the game, and making sure the kids get to school on time. Rarely do we think of those who may be suffering through the struggles of addiction. But, we are all part of a community, and we cannot fail anyone in our community by not acting.

I am proud to say that Congress has done the right thing, and I will continue to support our medical providers, first responders, police officers and recovery program managers here in Alabama. They need our constant support.

I will also keep all those throughout the country who struggle through the awful grips of addiction in my prayers and will continue to look for greater ways we as a community can come together and provide for all our neighbors.

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