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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.

Roby: Lawmakers must stop playing games with the Second Amendment

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As a gun owner myself, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. The overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who use firearms for sporting purposes, as historical collector’s items, to go hunting with their children or friends and, if necessary, to protect themselves and their families.

The Second Amendment states that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes. Unfortunately, some lawmakers view the Second Amendment as an inferior amendment, subject to being restricted and curtailed whenever political winds blow. But, the bottom line is that the Founding Fathers included the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, because they understood the need to place restrictions on the federal government in order to protect Americans’ individual liberties.

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Any time Congress discusses placing restrictions on an enumerated constitutional right, it is our responsibility to very carefully weigh the many competing interests, which is ultimately why I recently voted against H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, during its consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. This is a poorly drafted and ill-considered bill that would punish lawful gun owners without doing anything to prevent gun violence.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, H.R. 8 would implement a system of universal background checks that make the following actions illegal: Loaning a gun to your neighbor, donating a historic firearm to a museum, and gifting a gun to a relative.

Democrats in Congress have been campaigning on ending gun violence in America for years. I, along with my fellow Republicans, want to see a reduction in violent crime and gun violence, too – but H.R. 8 won’t accomplish that, especially in relation to mass shootings. In fact, none of the recent mass shootings in this country would have been prevented by this bill.

The State of California has some of the strictest firearm laws in the country, and their system of universal background checks has proven to be a failure. A recent study by the liberal-leaning Violence Prevent Research Program at the University of California – Davis and Johns Hopkins University found that the implementation of universal background checks has had no effect on the rates of homicide or suicide by firearm.

In order to actually combat gun violence, we must take a long, hard look at making improvements in our society, like repairing our mental health care system. Our country has been experiencing a mental health crisis for far too long, and it is past time we address it with meaningful change. We must also more effectively enforce the laws that are currently on the books before implementing new regulations that criminalize law-abiding gun owners.

To put it plainly, Congress should not be wasting valuable time on ineffective bills that would only serve to impede upon Americans’ constitutional rights. While I voted against H.R. 8, it ultimately passed the Judiciary Committee, and it will be considered for a vote by the full House in the coming weeks. I have and will continue to urge my colleagues to oppose this measure and get to work finding real solutions to gun violence. We must stop playing politics with legislation that will not benefit the American people.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

2 weeks ago

Roby: Reflecting on the president’s State of the Union and pro-life call to action

(M. Roby)

Every year, the State of the Union address provides an important opportunity for the sitting president to speak directly to Congress and the American people and offer an update on his priorities and plans to accomplish them. I recently attended President Trump’s second State of the Union address, and I was glad to hear what he had to say.

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted the economic success hardworking Americans are experiencing thanks to the implementation of pro-growth policies, including the historic tax reform overhaul. I was also pleased to hear more about his plans to work with Congress to secure our border, reinvigorate our badly aging infrastructure, strengthen our military, bolster our national security efforts, improve care for veterans and defend the unborn.

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The last item on that list has received a lot of attention lately due to the heartbreaking news that has come out of New York and Virginia in recent weeks. If you’ve not heard, the legislature in the State of New York recently cheered loudly upon their passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions.

In Virginia, the Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is facing severe backlash over his support for a similar state measure. He said: “Third trimester abortions are done in cases where there may be severe deformities. … If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired.”

These comments are a horrific defense of born-alive abortions – infanticide. No matter your position on abortion generally, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given.

I truly never dreamt I would see the day America would have government officials who openly support legal infanticide. It is stunning, appalling, and heartbreaking. During this challenging time for the pro-life movement in this country, I am very glad that President Trump utilized his platform during the State of the Union address to offer a call to action: We must put legal protections in place for babies who are born alive during botched abortions.

I remain unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and am opposed to abortion at any stage. I understand that not everyone shares my views, but still, I am severely disturbed that this country now requires written legal provisions to protect a living baby. Sadly, in the aftermath of the news coming out of New York and Virginia, it is clear that this step is immediately necessary.

In the House, Republicans wasted no time in responding to the President’s demand for action. Two of my colleagues in particular, Congressman Steve Scalise from Louisiana, who is our House Minority Whip, and Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, are leading efforts to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during abortion procedures.

I cannot express how strongly I support this commonsense measure, and I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it. We must swiftly advance legal protections for these newborns and punish any doctor who allows an infant to die. I also support our Republican leadership’s efforts to quickly bring up a vote on this legislation. Every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.

The challenges we face with a divided Congress have been made abundantly clear. I was encouraged by President Trump’s remarks during his State of the Union address, and I was especially glad that he stood in strong defense of the unborn and rallied our pro-life community to action. I am eager to continue working with his administration and my colleagues in Congress to deliver results on this important issue and others. The American people and Alabama’s Second District deserve nothing less.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

3 weeks ago

Roby: New Congress brings new opportunities for the Second District

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Last month, the 116th Congress was sworn-in, and I was honored to take the oath and begin my fifth term serving Alabama’s Second District. A new Congress often brings new committee and subcommittee opportunities, and I am excited to share with you my new responsibilities as I continue to work on your behalf.

For the 116th Congress, I will continue to serve on the House Appropriations and Judiciary Committees. On Appropriations, I have been assigned seats on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee and the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee.

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The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee has jurisdiction over some programs at the Department of Defense and the full range of funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee has jurisdiction over diplomacy and development funding – perhaps most importantly supporting the operations carried out at the Department of State, exports and trade, the Department of the Treasury, and more. The Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice and science agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

I am thrilled to continue serving on the Appropriations Committee as it gives me an important opportunity to advocate for conservative funding and have oversight over the spending that affects most every area of our federal government. These subcommittee assignments give me a seat at the table to advocate for the priorities that are important to those of us who live and work in Alabama’s Second District, including properly supporting our national security interests at home and abroad, ensuring adequate resources to care for our nation’s veterans, and more.

On the Judiciary Committee, I am honored to report that I have been selected to serve as the top Republican, formally known as Ranking Member, of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. As an attorney, I am excited to work closely on the important issues this subcommittee touches and to be a stronger voice in this leadership capacity on behalf of our district and state.

As you may know, in Congress, the process of debating and amending legislation begins in committee. That’s why it is so important for me, as your representative, to secure assignments to committees and subcommittees that handle legislation directly impacting our district and state. Being assigned to two major committees is rare, and I am grateful to have this opportunity on your behalf.

While the 116th Congress will hold new challenges with a Democrat majority in the House, I will continue to use my committee positions to be a strong voice for Alabama and the Second District. I am excited about the possibilities these assignments will bring, and I will keep fighting for the conservative ideals we share.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 weeks ago

Roby: Prayers for Wetumpka during this time of recovery

(CBS 42/YouTube)

On the afternoon of Saturday, January 19, a powerful tornado hit the City of Wetumpka in Elmore County, ripping through the beautiful downtown area and inflicting heartbreaking and significant damage. By the grace of God, no lives were lost, and only minor injuries have been reported. Still, the destruction is extreme, and the road to recovery is long.

The Monday following the tornado, I joined Governor Kay Ivey and other local officials to spend time on the ground with those impacted. I had the opportunity to see the devastation firsthand, and it was heartbreaking, to say the least. The beautiful, historic First Presbyterian Church was destroyed, and First Baptist Church of Wetumpka sustained terrible damage. The Wetumpka Police Station, senior citizens center and recreation center were also lost in the tornado. More than 35 homes and dozens of businesses were damaged or destroyed. Wetumpka and its residents are in the midst of determining the extent of damages and planning for what needs to be rebuilt, and we must do our very best to help however possible.

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I am deeply grateful to the local leaders and first responders who immediately jumped to action to begin securing the area and putting the pieces back together for the people who have lost so much. During this very challenging time, it has also been encouraging to see the community come together and begin the rebuilding process like a family. Mere hours after the storm, the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) heard from more than 1,000 individuals who signed up to volunteer their time and resources to the clean-up efforts.

If you are local and personally interested in helping out with clean-up in downtown Wetumpka or in Elmore County, please contact the Elmore County EMA by calling (334) 567-6451. The Elmore County Commission and City of Wetumpka are tremendously appreciative of volunteers who are willing to assist, but they ask that volunteers please call ahead and follow instructions to ensure proper coordination in order to maximize recovery efforts and resources.

If you are a resident of Wetumpka or Elmore County and need non-emergency assistance related to the tornado, please call 211 until further notice. Any emergency calls should still be directed to 911. Call the Elmore County EMA with any damage reports.

I would like to take this opportunity to directly address the people impacted by this tornado: My office stands ready to assist in whatever ways we are able. My staff and I work for you, and we want to be a resource for you during this challenging time.

The rebuilding process won’t be easy, but if we continue to work together and help each other out whenever possible, we will get through this. In the meantime, my family and I will continue to pray for all those impacted by this devastating event.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

1 month ago

Roby: Commemorating the 2019 March for Life

(March for Life/Facebook)

Forty-six years ago this month, the Supreme Court of the United States offered its infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in this country. While many abortion activists celebrate this anniversary as a victory for so-called “women’s health,” it represents a very somber occasion for those of us who advocate for life at all stages.

Since that 1973 ruling, more than 60 million unborn children have had their lives ended by abortion. To say this is a tragedy is an understatement. I don’t think it’s any secret that I am unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and that our laws and policies should protect it.

Of course, not everyone shares my convictions about life or the rights of unborn children, but still, our pro-life momentum is strong – especially around this time each year. On Friday, January 18, thousands of Americans gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to participate in this year’s March for Life. As you may know, this is an annual event where the pro-life community comes together to advocate for the lives and rights of unborn children.

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I had the opportunity to speak on the House floor to offer encouragement and thanks to participants of this year’s march. I’m truly grateful for the individuals who made the trip to Washington out of dedication to what I believe is a deeply worthy cause.

When Republicans held the majority in both the House and the Senate during the 115th Congress, we made great progress in our pro-life efforts. In the House, we passed a number of important bills to protect the unborn, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks based on the medical evidence that babies can feel pain at this point.

We also passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to require that medical care be given to any child who survives an attempted abortion and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which makes the Hyde Amendment permanent and government-wide. If you’re not familiar, the Hyde Amendment is a longstanding measure directing that no taxpayer dollars be used to perform abortions.

During the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that prevented states from redirecting Title X dollars away from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. In the 115th Congress, we passed H.J. Res. 43, which I proudly cosponsored, to overturn this rule. President Trump signed the measure into law in April of 2017.

Of course, now that Democrats gained the majority in the House, our pro-life efforts will likely face significant challenges. So, I recently joined 168 of my House colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump asking him to reject any legislation that would weaken our existing pro-life policies. For some background, Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush both promised, in writing, to veto any legislation that weakened pro-life laws during their presidencies. I believe this type of commitment is a great way for President Trump to underscore his dedication to the pro-life cause, and I am eager to see him make this promise.

Regardless, as I said during my most recent speech on the House floor, my commitment to the people I represent and to all pro-life Americans is that I will continue to use this platform I have been given in Congress to be a vocal advocate for the unborn. This is a very important responsibility, and it’s one I do not take lightly. We’ve made some real progress, but a lot of work remains, and I won’t stop fighting until our laws and policies protect life at every stage.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

1 month ago

Roby: Congress and the administration are fighting human trafficking

(WhiteHouse.Gov, M. Roby)

In the spirit of welcoming a new year, I have recently spent time reflecting upon the many positive developments we experienced in our district, state, and country in 2018. Unemployment is historically low, our economy is booming, and hardworking Americans are getting to keep more of the money they earn thanks to our tax reform overhaul.

2018 brought many accomplishments that we should absolutely celebrate, but last year also included a devastating statistic that we cannot ignore: In the United States, more than 8,500 human trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) in the last 12 months alone. According to the NHTH, for the first half of 2018, there were 36 human trafficking cases reported in Alabama. There are nearly 25 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and until this number is zero, we have work to do.

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This problem is out of control, and I am glad to report that President Trump has designated the month of January 2019 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In recent weeks, he has signed into law four bills that demonstrate our commitment to ending human trafficking and bringing these criminals to justice. Most recently, the President signed S. 1862, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which tightens criteria for whether countries are meeting standards for eliminating trafficking.

Last month, President Trump signed into law the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, which strengthens programs supporting survivors and increases resources for combatting this modern-day form of slavery. Here in Alabama, there are several organizations that provide shelter, transitional housing, and other services to individuals who have been trafficked. You can visit here to learn more about these critical resources available to survivors in our state.

The president also recently signed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act. This legislation authorizes $430 million to fight sex and labor trafficking.

Finally, President Trump signed into law S. 1312, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to establish new prevention, prosecution, and collaboration initiatives to bring human traffickers to justice swiftly. It is imperative that we hold these criminals responsible for their heinous crimes, and I am proud of this measure to do so.

Human trafficking is plaguing our country, but the underground nature of the problem often makes it difficult for authorities to estimate the full scale of its impact. Still, it happens in our communities every single day in plain sight, and it is our responsibility to tackle the issue head-on. It is especially important that we act quickly when we see these crimes occur. If at any point you have information or believe you see something questionable, immediately call the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation at 334-242-1142, or file a report online. The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-373-7888.

It’s hard to grasp the severity of a problem that often goes unseen, and it is especially difficult to combat it. That’s why I am very grateful that Congress and the Trump Administration are working together to make real strides towards addressing this crisis. We must continue to make it crystal clear that this horrendous form of modern-day slavery has no place in the United States and that we are committed to fighting it every step of the way.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

2 months ago

Roby: Reflecting on 2018 and looking ahead to the 116th Congress

(M. Roby)

2018 was a fantastic year in many ways for our district, state, and country. From outstanding economic news here in Alabama’s Second District to a strong new farm bill and proper defense funding, there was a lot to celebrate last year and much work to continue as we welcome 2019. The 116th Congress was recently sworn-in, and I am honored to represent our district in the House for another two years.

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For starters, in 2018, we began to see the results of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our historic tax reform overhaul that fosters economic growth, creates jobs here in the United States, and allows hardworking Americans to keep more of the money they earn. As a direct result of tax reform, here in Alabama’s Second District, we saw several businesses open facilities in our communities, expand existing operations, offer pay increases to employees, hire additional workers, and more. I am looking forward to seeing this positive momentum continue in 2019 – Alabama is open for business!

2018 also marked the first year in a decade that we were able to fully fund our military on time. This measure included funding for Army Aviation programs important to Fort Rucker. The legislation also allocates funding for F-35 aircraft, some of which will soon be flown by the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery. Throughout my time in Congress, I have said time and time again that we must ensure our military remains the tip of the spear. I am proud of our efforts in 2018 to make good on that responsibility, and I’ll continue this important work through the 116th Congress.

This past year, we also received the exciting news that Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base will receive funding from the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2019 military construction account for a new air traffic control (ATC) tower. I have personally climbed up the ATC at Maxwell and can attest to how dangerous it is and how badly it needs to be replaced. I’ve advocated for this project for several years, and I am thrilled it is finally becoming reality and that Alabamians will see some of their tax dollars at work in this tangible way.

In still more positive news for 2018, Congress passed and the President signed into law historic reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the VA MISSION Act, which funds the Choice Program that countless veterans depend on to receive care. I believe this important measure will make it easier for veterans to secure private care when they need it. While I am proud of this step, much work remains to ensure that our veterans receive proper treatment, and I will continue to fight for improvements at the VA in the year ahead.

Most recently, Congress passed and the President signed into law the 2018 farm bill to provide certainty to the American families who work every day to provide the food and fiber we depend on. In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the largest employer, so I know how important it is that Congress honor our commitments to the farmers and producers all over our country. I am very proud of our efforts to do just that, and I will continue to advocate for smart agriculture policy in the new Congress.

There are many more noteworthy accomplishments that our unified Republican government was able to deliver for the American people in 2018, and while the 116th Congress will bring some changes and challenges with a Democrat majority in the House, I will continue to fight for the commonsense conservative priorities I share with the people I represent. From my family to yours, Happy New Year. May God bless you, and may he continue to bless our country.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

2 months ago

Roby: Sharing the true spirit of the season

(M. Roby/Facebook)

For many of us, life can get really busy during the holiday season. There are countless errands to run, meals to prepare, friends and family to visit, and so much more. It is all too easy to become distracted from what really matters during this special time of year.

I hope we will all commit to making a dedicated effort this year to demonstrate the true spirit of the season by spreading joy and hope in our communities. In particular, I encourage all of us to spread these holiday blessings to those who will spend this time of year in more difficult circumstances than most of us.

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At this very moment, there are brave men and women, moms and dads, in our Armed Forces who are stationed overseas. They won’t experience the joy of spending this Christmas at home with their families. During my time in Congress, I have had the opportunity on several occasions to participate in the American Red Cross’ Holidays for Heroes campaign by writing holiday greeting cards to our active duty military personnel stationed around the world. For me personally, this has always been a moving experiencing. Sitting down to write directly to the men and women who spend their holiday away from family so that I might be able to spend the season with my own is incredibly humbling. I encourage you to reach out to the American Red Cross Central Alabama Chapter to find out how you and your family can spread joy to our troops overseas this Christmas. The Central Alabama Chapter is located at 5015 Woods Crossing in Montgomery and can be reached by calling (334) 260-3980.

At the same time, there are individuals right here in our own communities who are less fortunate and could greatly benefit from our efforts to offer hope by lending a helping hand. For those among us who are struggling financially, fighting an illness, or dealing with emotional difficulties, the holiday season can especially challenging. There are many organizations, including charities, shelters, volunteer organizations, and food banks, in our state that help connect individuals in need to others with the means to help. There are local opportunities to provide Christmas gifts to children in families who need assistance providing them. There are other opportunities to help organizations provide food for families who are unable to afford a nice holiday meal. If you cannot commit to some of these efforts for financial reasons, you can always serve your community by volunteering. The Alabama Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services is a great place to start if you’d like to find ways to give back and offer hope to those who need it. You can reach them by visiting this link or by calling (334) 242-1549.

As the busyness of the holiday season continues, let us all commit to making a special effort to spread joy to our service members overseas and offer hope to those who are less fortunate by giving back to our communities.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas! We have so much to be thankful for, and I am thankful to serve you in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

2 months ago

Roby: The 2018 Farm Bill includes key wins for farmers and our communities

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

Agriculture is the largest revenue-producing industry in the State of Alabama, responsible for more than $70 billion in economic impact annually. Our state is a national leader in food production and a global competitor in the livestock, peanut, cotton, poultry, timber and catfish industries. In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the largest employer, responsible for more than 93,000 jobs.

Agriculture is at the core of countless issues that impact the Second District and our state as a whole. Throughout my time in Congress, I have been proud to serve as a strong voice for our farmers of all commodities and to ensure that we craft smart agriculture policy that they can rely on in their important work. It is imperative that Congress honor our commitments to the hardworking farmers and producers across the country.

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That’s why I am glad to report that both the House and Senate have approved the 2018 farm bill. This legislation now heads to the White House where it awaits President Trump’s signature. The 2018 farm bill provides certainty to the American families who work every day to provide the food and fiber we all depend on. I was proud to support it on behalf of our Second District farmers.

The 2018 farm bill includes key wins for farmers and our rural communities. It improves farm policy by providing a nationwide yield update for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) commodity program, beginning with the 2020 crop year and allowing PLC to better respond to market conditions; making several key improvements to the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) commodity program, including increased yield plugs and yield trend adjustments; protecting and improving crop insurance; investing in research, extension and education projects, and protecting farmers from additional costly, burdensome red tape.

The bill also lays the groundwork for an improved Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by preserving the Trump Administration’s flexibility to rein in SNAP work requirement waivers for able bodied adults without dependents. We are focused on improving welfare integrity by encouraging able-bodied Americans to work rather than enabling dependency on the federal government.

Additionally, the 2018 farm bill dedicates funding to rural health projects to help Americans battling opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders. It’s no secret that the opioid epidemic is gripping our state and the entire country, so it is imperative that we utilize every tool available to combat it. I’m especially proud this legislation allocates increased resources to that end.

Importantly for Alabama’s Second District, the farm bill also makes significant improvements to rural broadband delivery. This includes the implementation of forward-looking standards to ensure we are meeting the next generation’s rural broadband needs.

This farm bill makes good on our commitment to farmers, producers, and all of rural America by providing certainty moving forward. My goal with agriculture policy is always to create a responsible framework of laws and programs that promote a sustainable and profitable agriculture industry in Alabama while allowing our farmers to do what they do best: provide the sustenance that feeds our state, our country and the world. I am proud of Congress’ action to make this happen, and I’m eager to see President Trump push the farm bill over the finish line.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

3 months ago

Martha Roby: Honoring the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush

(Wikicommons)

As Americans, one of our most important, solemn duties is to honor our great heroes and patriots as we lay them to rest. On November 30, 2018, President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed on from this life surrounded by some of the people he loved most in this world. He was a great leader and a truly good man, and our country will be forever shaped by his legacy.

George H.W. Bush was born on June 12, 1924, to Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. He graduated from high school on his 18th birthday and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy, becoming one of the youngest naval aviators. In September of 1943, George Bush was assigned to the squadron that would end up being victorious in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, one of the largest air battles of World War II.

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A year later, junior Lieutenant Bush piloted one of the four planes that attacked the Japanese on Chichijima. His plane was shot down, and he was stranded for hours in an inflated raft before being rescued by a U.S. submarine. Between 1943-1944, Bush flew 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in September of 1945, one month after Japan’s surrender.

During his final year of naval service, George Bush married Barbara Pierce, and they had six children together, five of which are still living. Their second child and oldest daughter Robin passed away at age three from leukemia. At the time of Barbara’s death earlier this year, the couple had been married for 73 years, the longest presidential marriage in American history by nearly 20 years.

Upon receiving his military discharge, George Bush enrolled at Yale University where he continued his remarkable leadership track by serving as his fraternity’s president and captain of the university’s baseball team. After graduating, he moved his family to West Texas where he became very successful in the oil industry.

In 1966, George Bush was elected to serve Texas’ Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1968, and then unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1970. In 1971, George Bush was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations. During his impressive career, he also served as the U.S. Liaison to China and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Bush was President Ronald Reagan’s Vice President from 1981-1989. He succeeded Reagan as President in 1989 and completed one term, losing his reelection bid to former President Bill Clinton in 1993.

While President George H.W. Bush’s resume is certainly impressive, it’s not his professional achievement that will stand out in the hearts and minds of Americans for generations to come. President Bush was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was also a dedicated public servant who placed significant emphasis on volunteering as a way to improve American communities.

He often used the “thousand points of light” theme to describe the power American citizens have to solve problems. In his 1989 inaugural address, President Bush said, “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good.” Four years later, he offered an update to the country on the Points of Light Movement, saying, “Points of light are the soul of America. They are ordinary people who reach beyond themselves to touch the lives of those in need, bringing hope and opportunity, care and friendship. By giving so generously of themselves, these remarkable individuals show us not only what is best in our heritage but what all of us are called to become.”

President George H.W. Bush lived his life as a shining example of these words he spoke. He is truly among what is “best in our heritage.” President Bush gave our country the very best of himself, and thereby inspired countless Americans to voluntarism and public service. May we never forget his outstanding leadership and his remarkable legacy. I hope you will join me in keeping the entire Bush family in your prayers as our country mourns the passing of their loved one.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

3 months ago

Roby: Border security is a priority for Alabamians

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, one of my jobs is to work alongside my colleagues to see that the government is funded on time each year.

It’s no secret that the process is far from perfect and Congress often falls short of executing this important responsibility in the way our founding fathers intended, but this year, I am glad to report that we have taken steps in the right direction.

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As you may know, current government funding expires on December 7, and as of now, we have already funded 75 percent of the government under regular order. We have done our job to fund our military and the Department of Veterans Affairs on time, and now it is imperative that we build upon this positive momentum by properly funding the rest, including the Department of Homeland Security, in order to crack down on our country’s illegal immigration problem.

I’m sure you have seen the recent news reports about the caravan of individuals trying to force their way across our southern border. This situation is deeply troubling, and it is a direct threat to our national security. The unfortunate truth, however, is that this isn’t the first time something like this has occurred, and until we truly secure our border, it won’t be the last.

Let me be clear: Our immigration system is broken, and it badly needs to be reformed. But, any real, meaningful discussions about reforms to the existing system absolutely must begin with securing the border. As I always say, if you have a leak in your house, you don’t replace the drywall until you fix the leak. In the same way, we cannot attempt to solve the larger problem with our immigration system until we stop the flow of illegal immigrants across our border.

That’s why it is critical that Congress fully fund the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security and immigration, to provide the resources and tools necessary to secure the border, including President Trump’s request for a border wall. Last year, we put a down payment on construction of a wall along our southern border, and this year, it is our responsibility to direct additional funds towards this important measure and others.

With my seat on the House Appropriations Committee, I’m in a strong position to ensure that many of our Alabama priorities are properly funded from year to year. Border security is one of those priorities, and I am eager to get this important work done.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

3 months ago

Roby: A season of thanksgiving and rebuilding

(Rep. Martha Roby/Facebook)

Thanksgiving is a uniquely special holiday because it provides us an entire day each year to pause as a country and give thanks to God for the countless ways He has blessed us. The stress and craziness of everyday life often make it easy to lose sight of just how much we have to be thankful for, so as we all have the opportunity to gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, I hope we all take time to count our numerous blessings.

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While we have a lot to be thankful for in our state and country right now, there are also people in our district and throughout the Southeast who are in the midst of a very challenging recovery period in the wake of Hurricane Michael. When this horrific storm made landfall just over a month ago, areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia were completely ravaged. Hundreds of people lost everything, and more than 30 people were killed. Needless to say, this Thanksgiving will be a very emotional time for many people in our country.

Here in our district, the agriculture community faces the most significant devastation. While the full scale of damages is still being assessed at this time, Hurricane Michael dealt a terrible blow to our cotton, timber, and peanut farmers.

In the aftermath of the storm, I have traveled to the Wiregrass several times to be with our farmers and to see firsthand what they are experiencing. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to visit a farm in Houston County with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan to assess damage and discuss recovery efforts with some local farmers.

I appreciate the local leaders and hardworking farmers who took the time to sit down with Secretary Perdue, Commissioner McMillan, and me. Secretary Perdue is a friend to Alabama, and I’m deeply grateful that he made this visit happen and participated in this important dialogue with Alabama farmers. I will work alongside Secretary Perdue and my colleagues in Congress to provide the proper resources and assistance to our farmers. My job is to be on the front line fighting for Alabama, and we are making the push to get this done quickly and correctly. We must get this right, and we must ensure that Alabama’s farmers are included in all recovery efforts.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have made it a priority to fight for our farmers of all commodities. Their work to provide the food and fiber we depend on is vitally important. I will continue to advocate for them, especially during this time of uncertainty as we work to put the pieces back together for these hardworking men and women who have suffered tremendous loss to their livelihoods.

During this season of Thanksgiving as you’re gathered with family and friends, I hope you will join me in prayerfully remembering our neighbors in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast. While the challenge of rebuilding won’t be easy, I am confident that we will get through it together.

In the spirit of the holiday, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that I am thankful for the responsibility to serve our state and country in the United States Congress. It is a true honor to be in a position to make a difference on behalf of Alabama’s Second District, so thank you for allowing me to serve you. From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

3 months ago

Martha Roby: YouthBuild Eufaula is making a difference in Barbour County

(M. Roby)

Did you know that there are an estimated 4.9 million 16 to 24-year-old individuals in this country who are not in school and are also unemployed? This is an unfortunate but true statistic, and roughly 3 million of these young people are living in poverty.

During the recent district work period, I had the opportunity to visit Eufaula Housing Authority’s (EHA) YouthBuild program, an organization in Alabama’s Second District that is really making a difference in the lives of these individuals in Barbour County. YouthBuild is a youth development program that serves these out-of-school youth by providing them with the opportunity, hope, and support to rebuild their lives while equipping them with the necessary skills to facilitate success in both the workforce and their communities.

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EHA’s YouthBuild program serves young people ages 16 to 24 who are not currently enrolled in high school or have recently dropped out and re-entered. Participants also represent at least one of these six disadvantaged groups: low-income household, parent(s) incarcerated, youth aging out of foster care, youth with a disability, homeless, and adjudicated. Students who meet these criteria must complete a three-week mental toughness orientation before being accepted into the program. During this time, applicants learn more about YouthBuild, participate in daily physical training exercises, teambuilding activities, various skills workshops, and a community service assignment designed to teach the importance of giving back.

This mental toughness orientation is important because leadership and giving back are two ideals YouthBuild works extremely hard to instill in each and every participant. The program is well-equipped to facilitate growth in these important areas because they’ve partnered with various organizations, such as Youth Leadership Barbour County, to offer skills training and leadership development workshops.

In addition to fostering personal growth and development, YouthBuild provides excellent educational opportunities for participants by partnering with Wallace Community College and the Eufaula Career Center. Because of these local partnerships, YouthBuild is able to offer classes for GED preparation, Ready to Work (soft skills certification), welding, air conditioning and refrigeration, and electrical line work.

On top of these great opportunities, YouthBuild also offers its participants exceptional professional opportunities in construction. If they desire, students have the option to receive classroom and lab training in addition to hands-on training on construction sites. Oftentimes, these opportunities lead to paying jobs for students.

It’s no secret that at-risk youth often, understandably, need strong support to overcome the conditions that contributed to their challenging circumstances. YouthBuild offers students supportive services to help them overcome these barriers. Each student has access to career coaching, legal advocacy, tutoring, transportation and childcare vouchers, a graduation stipend, job placement assistance, and post-graduate follow-up engagement.

When I stopped by EHA’s YouthBuild, I saw firsthand the positive impact these service-driven educators and mentors have on the students in the program, and I was especially moved by personal testimonies I heard about how YouthBuild and its staff helped two young men in particular turn their lives around. The YouthBuild philosophy is to convey the importance of post-secondary education as a vehicle for personal advancement and growth, and during my visit, it was very clear that this ideology truly guides the program and all the hardworking men and women who dedicate their lives and careers to making it successful.

YouthBuild is invaluable to at-risk youth and young adults in Barbour County, but when I talked with staff there, I was informed of a tough challenge they face: Demand is so high that they’re continually forced to turn away applicants due to funding and space limitations. As a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee, I have proudly supported funding for YouthBuild, and I will continue to advocate for proper support for these important programs. They are meeting critical needs in our community, and it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure they are able to grow and thrive. I enjoyed my visit to YouthBuild and am already looking forward to next time.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Roby: Reflecting on October

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

There have been several exciting, noteworthy developments for our district, state, and country lately. For starters, now that November is upon us, President Trump has again declared this month the second annual National Veterans and Military Families Month to “salute the brave and dedicated patriots who have worn the uniform of the United States, and… celebrate the extraordinary military families whose selfless service and sacrifice make our military the finest in the world.”

I am glad that the president has once again demonstrated that we are committed to veterans and military families more than just on Veterans Day.

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Next, you may be aware that each year the month of October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities to increase awareness and raise funds for research. It was recently brought to my attention that Medicare and Medicaid only cover two options for women following a mastectomy: surgical breast reconstructive surgery or a prefabricated breast prosthetic. The latter has been described as shapeless, heavier than the normal breast, and cumbersome to wear – but there’s another option.

Custom fabricated breast prosthetics exist, and while they are significantly less expensive than reconstructive surgery and are custom-fit to a woman’s body shape, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has deemed this option not reasonable or necessary for coverage. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I sent a letter to the CMS Administrator urging her to modify this coverage determination. I believe it is only right that women who have battled breast cancer be given the options that work best for them and not be subjected to a one-size-fits-all approach. I will keep you informed on any developments.

In still more news, we recently learned that the Air Force is directing $18 million for the construction of a new air traffic control tower at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery. I have advocated for this project for years and have personally climbed up the antiquated tower. It badly needs to be replaced, so I am very pleased that this issue is being addressed through the recently passed military funding bill. I look forward to seeing this improvement become reality as Maxwell continues to support the needs of the Air Force in the River Region, including the 187th Fighter Wing’s missions. Construction is expected to begin in June of 2019 and conclude in December of 2020.

Amid all of this news, I also had the opportunity this past week to spend more time traveling throughout Alabama’s Second District as the October district work period continued. I had productive visits in Wetumpka, Montgomery, Tallassee, and Dothan.

In Wetumpka, I sat down with Keith Barnett, the new Director of the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency, and other community leaders to discuss infrastructure, rural broadband, prison reform, and economic growth in the region. I also appreciated this group giving me an update on Elmore County’s priorities. In Montgomery, I met with members of the Alabama Ag Credit, officials from New York Life, folks from Cardiovascular Associates, and more.

While in Tallassee, I had the opportunity to speak to the Lions Club during their lunch meeting. I appreciated being able to give them an update from Washington and fill them in on my priorities as their representative in Congress.

In Dothan, I spoke to our community leaders at the annual Second Congressional District dinner. Each year, this event serves as an excellent time for those of us in public service to discuss the ways we can better assist the people we represent. I reminded the group of the many ways my office can be of service to them as we work to serve our shared constituency.

The month of October brought several positive developments to our region, state and country, and I was glad to be part of the excitement on your behalf. I am looking forward to seeing what the month of November holds for Alabamians and all Americans, and I am eager to spend more time on the road visiting with the people I am grateful to represent in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Roby report from the road — Hurricane Michael, education and meeting with business leaders

(M. Roby/Facebook)

With Congress out of session for an October district work period, I have taken this valuable time to be on the road in Alabama’s Second District visiting with the people I represent and sharing with them an update from Washington. I believe this time we spend together is truly invaluable. It’s so important for me to hear from local leaders, business owners and employees about how the issues of the day impact them in their daily lives so that I can better represent their views in Congress.

During this district work period, I spent time in Columbia, Headland, Dothan, Gordon, Luverne, Goshen, Opp and Troy. Since parts of our district were ravaged by Hurricane Michael this month, I have been especially grateful for this time away from Washington to visit impacted communities to assess the damage and talk with our farmers on the ground.

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In Columbia, I met with Mayor Rhonda Freeman, and she updated me on the damage her town is facing. In Headland, I had lunch with a group of Henry County farmers, and we discussed agriculture recovery efforts. The farmers in our district are truly facing unprecedented losses, and I will remain engaged as we push through this rebuilding process together. In Dothan, I sat down with Chris Judah, Director of the Houston County Emergency Management Agency. In Gordon, I toured several farms to assess the Hurricane Michael damage.

In Luverne, I had the opportunity to address the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce during a lunch meeting. We had a conversation about the numerous successes our unified government has had over the last two years. As I told the group, the American people are much better off now than we were before. While in town, I also stopped by Hicks, Inc. They’re the number one national wholesale distributor of fishing, hunting, marine, archery and other outdoor products. I was very impressed by their extensive operations and impressive facility.

In Goshen, I visited the high school to check out their career tech facility. I was blown away by the numerous outstanding opportunities that are available to students right here in our district. Did you know that most Goshen High School students graduate having already obtained an Associate degree? It’s true. The students I met while on campus were truly remarkable young men and women.

In Opp, I participated in a roundtable discussion with local business leaders. We had a very productive conversation about ways we can work to bring new opportunities to Opp and the surrounding communities. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to meet former Alabama football Head Coach Mike DuBose and his wife Polly.

In Troy, I met with Troy University officials, and they briefed me on a $3.2 million grant the university recently received from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is the largest grant Troy University has received in the school’s history, and it will establish the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences at the university. This research will focus on polymers and plastics recycling, and it will go a long way towards preparing the next generation of the workforce in this industry. We are so fortunate to have Troy University in Alabama’s Second District, and I’m always proud to learn more about the ways the school is growing and thriving.

It has been a productive month so far, and I really appreciate the many individuals who took time out of their busy lives to talk with me. I am looking forward to many more opportunities to hear directly from the people I represent. My priority is always to be the very best representative of our shared beliefs that I possibly can.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Rep. Roby: Alabama farmers ‘in the midst of a very real crisis’ as Hurricane Michael recovery continues

(M. Roby/YouTube)

As Hurricane Michael recovery efforts continue, we are gradually learning the full scale of damages portions of our district are facing. The setback for the agriculture industry is severe, to say the least. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, I traveled to the Wiregrass to see firsthand what some of our farmers are experiencing. The devastation is heartbreaking.

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Agricultural damage from Hurricane Michael across Alabama, Florida, and Georgia is projected to top $1.3 billion in total losses, with cotton, pecans, and poultry commodities hit the hardest. An expert with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System estimates the loss to our state’s cotton crop alone could eclipse $100 million. That sum does not include the impact the storm had on livestock, peanuts, and timber. When I was on the ground in the Wiregrass, I even saw 1,500 acres of cucumbers that might not make it to harvest. Our farmers are in the midst of a very real crisis.

In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the backbone of our economy, and throughout my time in Congress, I have always made it a priority to fight for our farmers of all commodities. Their work to provide the food and fiber we depend on is vitally important. I will continue to advocate for them, especially at this very uncertain time as we work to put the pieces back together for these hardworking men and women who have suffered tremendous loss to their livelihoods.

In the wake of this disaster, Governor Kay Ivey requested that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue declare our hurricane-damaged counties in Alabama as agriculture disaster areas. She also requested the maximum assistance be made available to our state through existing Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs.

I, too, have been actively engaged with Secretary Perdue, and recently penned a letter to him voicing my support for the Governor’s request. It is imperative that our farmers receive the most fitting and best available assistance from USDA during this time, and I am confident Secretary Perdue understands the severity of the devastation that occurred to agriculture in our state. I will remain in close contact with USDA to address any further needs the Department may require in getting our farmers the help they need in the weeks and months to come.

As we work through this season of rebuilding together, I’ve been encouraged to see and hear about so many acts of kindness and charity in our district and throughout the Southeast.

As a local example, when Tate’s Supermarket in Hartford lost power during the bad weather, they were unable to keep their refrigerated food stock cold. So, they emptied their freezers, prepared the food, and gave it away on to-go plates for anyone in Geneva County who needed a meal. This time of recovery will not be easy, but if we continue to help each other in whatever ways we are able, we will get through this.

If you or someone you know needs assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, please contact one of my offices. My staff and I work for you, and we are committed to ensuring that you know the options available to you during this trying time. Most importantly, please continue praying for the families who were impacted by this disaster.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

4 months ago

Roby: Rebuilding together

(M. Roby/Facebook)

Hurricane Michael, the third most powerful hurricane to ever make landfall on the United States mainland, ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia on October 10th. While only early estimates are available at this point in time, it has been reported that more than 650,000 homes and businesses across the Southeast lost power, and 60,000 of those are in Alabama. Thus far, the Coast Guard says it has rescued 30 people, mostly from badly damaged homes. Hundreds of families lost everything, and it has been confirmed that at least half a dozen people were killed.

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While Hurricane Michael appears to have done its worst in Panama City, Florida, and the nearby areas, Barbour, Dale, Henry, Geneva and Houston Counties in our district were also impacted. It could potentially take days, or even weeks, before we know the full scale of the damage, but we do know that Hurricane Michael is the most powerful storm to ever hit Houston County according to recorded history.

According to The Dothan Eagle, Dothan Fire Chief Larry Williams said crew members performed 22 rescues during the storm. We’ve not yet received official word on how many injuries there are, but we have been told there are several, some of which are severe. Crews across the Wiregrass remain in search and rescue mode to date.

Our farmers face significant troubles as well. While the full scale of the damage to local agriculture is still being assessed, Hurricane Michael dealt a devastating blow to cotton farmers in the area. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to view some of the cotton crop firsthand, and it was clear that our cotton farmers were set up to have a very good yield this year. Wiregrass peanut farmers are waiting to see the full extent of devastation to their crop, too.

As our cotton farmers, peanut farmers, and farmers of other commodities in our district learn more about the impact of this storm on their crops, my office is eager to assist in any way and will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on assistance that may be available to impacted farms. Agriculture and its related industries are the engine of our economy in Alabama’s Second District, and this catastrophic storm has unfortunately resulted in an economic setback.

Hurricane Michael was an unprecedented disaster for our district and the Southeast. While the threat of severe weather is no longer hovering over us, those who live in the Wiregrass – and not to mention the people across the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia – are facing terrible damage. My office has been engaged with FEMA, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and others throughout this difficult time. We stand ready to assist in whatever ways we can as we work through the aftermath of this storm. I encourage anyone who lives in Alabama’s Second District to contact my office for help, and we will do all that we can to provide assistance and point you in the right direction. We are committed to ensuring no one endures this time of rebuilding alone.

Above all, please join me in praying for all those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Some families have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods. I encourage everyone to help out with relief efforts in whatever way you can. We should all be deeply thankful for the first responders and all those working to repair the damage. This is a very, very trying and difficult time for so many people across the Southeast, and we will get through it together.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Much work remains in this fight against the opioid crisis

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

While the news of the day and partisan bickering often distract from the issue, it is important that we remember our nation is in the midst of an urgent public health epidemic that is ravaging virtually every community in this country. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been cut short by opioid addiction and abuse in recent years. Last year alone, more than 72,000 Americans lost their lives due to complications from drug overdose. Of those fatalities, nearly 50,000 were related to opioids.

In Congress, we have made great strides towards addressing this tragic epidemic that is gripping the State of Alabama and the entire country, and we recently made even more progress by passing H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This bill authorizes critical funding to assist states in combatting the opioid crisis, expand patient access to addiction treatment, and improve the detection of importation of illegal drugs, including fentanyl. H.R. 6 has passed both the House and Senate and now awaits President Trump’s signature. I am eager to see it become law.

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One aspect of H.R. 6 that is especially worth highlighting is the bill’s increased attention to addiction treatment. This legislation will create a grant program for comprehensive recovery centers that provide housing and job training in addition to mental and physical health care. The bill will also increase access to medication-assisted treatments that help individuals with addiction disorders safely wean themselves off of opioids.

Another significant element of H.R. 6 is the change it would implement to an outdated rule that prohibits Medicaid from covering patients with substance abuse disorders who were receiving treatment in a mental health facility with more than 16 beds. This legislation will lift that rule and allow up to 30 days of residential treatment coverage.

In addition to House and Senate passage of H.R. 6, Congress has allocated $8.5 billion this year for opioid-related programs. While there’s no guarantee of this level of funding in future years, I believe that Congress is taking this public health crisis seriously and will remain committed to properly funding efforts to combat it.

The opioid crisis has devastated both rural and urban communities of all sizes in every corner of our country. The problem has grown too large to solve itself, and while I am proud of the steps we’ve taken in Congress, much work remains in this fight. Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, causing more fatalities than car accidents.

In order to fight this battle with the aggression it requires, we must be unified and coordinated in our efforts. Action must be taken by leadership in local communities, in state governments, and in the federal government. I am glad that in Congress, this fight has garnered the widespread support it deserves. American lives depend on all of us, and our work is far from being complete. I’m eager to see President Trump sign H.R. 6 into law, and I will continue to support efforts to combat the opioid epidemic on behalf of Alabama’s Second District.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Roby: Protecting our greatest responsibility

(M. Roby)

As a society, our children are perhaps the greatest, most precious responsibility given to us. They are vulnerable, innocent and wholly dependent upon the adults surrounding them for protection. While horrible and unthinkable, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone takes this responsibility seriously, and there are even those who would do children harm.

The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that while the prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is often unreported, experts still agree that the number of incidences is vastly greater than what is reported to authorities.

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Children are the most vulnerable members of our society, and there is perhaps no greater responsibility before Congress than the call to protect them. I believe it is our job to provide the most effective tools available to confront, fight, punish and ultimately prevent horrific crimes against children. Our legal protections for children and the punishments for those who harm them must be as strong as possible.

That’s why I was grateful that the House of Representatives recently passed my bill, H.R. 6847, the Preventing Child Exploitation Act of 2018. This bill combines four pieces of legislation in an effort to fight the abuse and exploitation of children and strengthen protections for them under the law. I’d like to take a moment to share with you more specifics on what this package of bills would accomplish.

First, my bill includes H.R. 1842, the Strengthening Children’s Safety Act, which makes our communities safer by enhancing penalties for sex offenders who fail to register in the national sex offender registry, and then commit a crime of violence.

Second, the bill includes H.R. 1862, the Global Child Protection Act, legislation I previously introduced to combat global sex tourism by closing loopholes that allow child predators to go unpunished for their abuse of children overseas.

Third, this bill includes H.R. 1761, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act, to add legal measures to strengthen protections for victims of child pornography.

Fourth, and finally, my bill includes H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act, to continue our support for programs that help prevent child abuse by ensuring that the public has access to information about known sex offenders in their neighborhoods.

In addition to introducing the Preventing Child Exploitation Act, I was also proud to join my colleagues in cosponsoring the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018. As you may know, the Victims of Child Abuse Act was first passed in 1990, and it provides federal funding for the development of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC).

The primary mission of a CAC is to prevent further victimization of a child by ensuring that child abuse investigations are comprehensive and that intervention and healing services are age-appropriate for the needs of each individual child.

Congress unanimously reauthorized the Victims of Child Abuse Act reauthorization in 2014, but it is set to expire this year. I am hopeful that the House will take up this important piece of legislation soon to ensure that CACs have the resources necessary to serve the children who need them most.

In Congress, I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the Judiciary Committee where we have worked very diligently to combat crimes against children. In recent years, we have made remarkable progress in this fight – but we can, and we must, do more. I’m encouraged by House passage of the Preventing Child Exploitation Act, and I am hopeful that the Senate will act on this bill quickly to protect the most vulnerable among us. We must use every tool available to prevent horrific crimes against children.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Tax reform 2.0 gains momentum

Less than a year ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to simplify our complicated tax code and lower rates for all Americans. Thanks to tax reform and other pro-growth policies, our economy is booming. You don’t just have to take my word for it – here are some numbers from the month of August:

–U.S. employers added more than 200,000 jobs as wages increased at the fastest year-on-year pace since June of 2009.

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–Unemployment claims reached a 49-year low. The last time jobless claims fell to this point, it was December of 1969.

–Small business optimism hit a new record high.

–The number of individuals employed part-time who would prefer full-time work but could not find it has fallen to the lowest level since before the 2008-2009 recession.

–U.S. manufacturing grew at the fastest pace since May of 2004.

These numbers all serve as proof that the American people are better off now than they were just two years ago. I am eager to see this strong momentum continue, and I am glad to report that we aren’t slowing down our efforts to foster economic growth right here in the United States. Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Tax Reform 2.0, a series of bills that would modify and build upon the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The first bill in the series, H.R. 6760, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018, would put in place several changes to the individual income tax rate. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025, perhaps the most important changes H.R. 6760 would implement are making the tax rate changes and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

According to a Tax Foundation study, making these individual income tax changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent would increase long-term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2.2 percent and create 1.5 million new full-time equivalent jobs.

The second bill in the series, H.R. 6757, the Family Savings Act of 2018, includes a number of important reforms to retirement accounts. For example, individuals would be able to contribute up to $2,500 into a savings account annually, and any withdrawals would be tax free.

The third bill in the series, H.R. 6756, the American Innovation Act of 2018, would allow businesses to deduct their start-up costs. Businesses could either deduct the lesser of their start-up expenses, or for firms with more than $120,000 in expenses, deduct a flat amount of $20,000.

Our tax reform overhaul provides much needed relief to American families, creates jobs here in the United States, grows our economy, and allows hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their own money in their pocket. We now have a unique opportunity to continue delivering on our promise to give the American people more of the results they deserve.

Committee passage of Tax Reform 2.0 is just the first step in the legislative process to make parts of our tax overhaul permanent. I will continue to listen to the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District and work alongside my colleagues in Congress to improve this package of legislation as we move towards advancing these pro-growth policies to the House floor for a vote.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

5 months ago

Rep. Roby: We’re one step closer to regular order

(M. Roby/YouTube)

We’re about halfway through the month of September, which means the September 30 expiration date for our current government funding is quickly approaching. I am pleased to report that in the House and Senate, we are unified in our motivation to send final funding packages to the President’s desk before the upcoming fiscal deadline. I am committed to doing all I can to keeping the government open and running for the sake of our priorities and needs as a nation.

It is imperative that Congress works to bring certainty to government funding, especially for our military, including the critical operations that happen in our district at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and Fort Rucker.

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As you might remember, Senate Democrats shut down the government at the beginning of this year over policy that was totally unrelated to government funding. While Congress and the Trump administration were able to find common ground on a funding solution at that time, much work still remains to fund the government in an orderly, process-driven manner. The way we have been operating is not the way it was designed to work.

In order to fund the government by what we call “regular order,” both the House and Senate are supposed to pass all twelve of our respective funding bills through the subcommittees, through the full committees, and then on the House and Senate floors. After both chambers have passed twelve bills, we are then supposed to go to conference and work out the differences that exist between the versions of each bill. Once a finalized version is agreed upon by both chambers, the bills are sent to the president’s desk where they are hopefully signed into law.

Last year, the House did operate by regular order. The Senate did not, which is what caused us to go into crisis mode earlier this year with four people in a room deciding how to fund the government with a shutdown looming. The product that came out of this broken process was far from perfect, and it will continue to be until we come together and decide to operate the way our founding fathers intended – where the American people have their representative at the table with a vote to reflect their views and priorities.

This year, in the House and Senate, we have truly made progress towards returning to regular order with our appropriations bills. Under the leadership of Senator Richard Shelby who now chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate has made historic progress. They cleared seven of their twelve appropriations bills by the month of August. This has not happened in almost 20 years, and it is a very big deal. I’m optimistic that with Senator Shelby’s leadership, we are on a more responsible path than in years past.

Now that both chambers have made significant progress in passing appropriations bills for the Fiscal Year 2019, select members have been conferencing to work out the differences between the two versions of each bill. I am proud to report that the House and Senate have both passed the Conference Report for H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, a combination of three of the twelve appropriations titles. It now heads to the White House where it awaits President Trump’s signature.

This is great progress, but we still have nine of the twelve funding bills to conference, pass out of both chambers, and send to the president. I am glad to have been selected as a conferee for the Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education package, which combines two very important funding bills.

One of Congress’ most fundamental constitutional duties is to “provide for the common defense.” In both the House and Senate, we have done our due diligence to pass funding bills that provide strong support to rebuild our military after years of devastating cuts. This funding package also includes a Labor-HHS bill that has several priorities that are important to the people of Alabama’s Second District.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am in a strong position to ensure that our Alabama priorities are properly funded from year to year. I am very hopeful that we can finally begin to operate in a way that ensures your voice is heard, and I am eager to ensure that our government is fully and properly funded before the September 30 deadline.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

6 months ago

Martha Roby: Finalizing the Farm Bill

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

The farm bill is a critically important piece of legislation that sets agriculture policy in our country for about five years at a time, meaning every five years or so, it is Congress’ responsibility to craft and then ultimately pass a new – and hopefully improved – version to provide our farmers with the certainty they need.

As you may know, over the summer, the House and Senate both passed our versions of the new farm bill, and I was proud to support our bill in the House. Now, it is up to select members of the House and Senate to conference and work out the differences between our two pieces of legislation. I am glad to report that this process is underway, and I’m hopeful the Conference Committee will agree on a final product soon, as the September 30th deadline for the expiration of the current law is quickly approaching.

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In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the largest employer, so we fully understand how very important it is that Congress get this policy right. Agriculture legislation doesn’t just affect the farmer who puts the seed in the ground. We’re also affecting the ones who sell the seed, who build the equipment to cultivate and harvest the crop, and those who help process the goods to their final products.

In Congress, I consider it one of my top responsibilities to be a strong voice for our farmers and to represent their concerns. That’s why I’m pleased that in the House, our version of the farm bill addresses many of the issues that the hardworking farmers in AL-02 have told me they face, including reducing regulatory burdens, addressing invasive species like feral hogs, maintaining the crop insurance program, and more.

In addition to these important priorities, the House’s version of the farm bill authorizes substantial funding for rural broadband and implements strict work requirements for food stamp recipients.

Since the Senate is currently bound by a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation, their farm bill is quite different than our version in the House. That said, the final farm bill that ultimately comes out of the Conference Committee will very likely be a combination of both versions.

No matter what differences exist between the two chambers, Alabama’s farmers and producers deserve a strong, consistent, improved, and on-time farm bill to plan for the future. I will remain actively engaged with my colleagues on the Conference Committee to deliver agriculture policy that gives fair treatment to our Alabama commodities, like cotton, peanuts, timber, poultry, soybeans, and catfish. We’ve come too far to not get this done.

Our farmers produce the food and fiber that we all depend on, and it is our responsibility to move forward with strong, commonsense policy that enables them to do their jobs. I am looking forward to sending the final farm bill to the President’s desk, and I will keep you informed on developments.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

6 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Hearing from constituents ‘enables me to better represent your views’

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

Over the last month during the August district work period, I have had the opportunity to travel throughout Alabama’s Second District to meet with constituents, local leaders and business owners. Having this time to hear firsthand from the people I represent is tremendously important, and I believe it enables me to better represent your views in Washington.

I recently wrapped up my district travel for the month, and I would like to briefly share with you an update on some of my visits and meetings I had towards the end of August.

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I met with leaders from Ingram State Community College in Deatsville. We had a great conversation about our state’s excellent community college system and ways we can continue to improve higher education and opportunities for AL-02 students. I also sat down with some folks from the Alabama Association of School Boards, and they updated me on some of the issues our local school systems face. I appreciated hearing from them and learning more about their perspective.

One afternoon, I had the privilege of speaking to the Montgomery chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers during their monthly luncheon. We discussed a number of important topics, including efforts in Congress and the Trump Administration to reinvigorate our nation’s aging infrastructure. I appreciated this opportunity and everyone who took the time to visit with me.

I also visited the Army Aviation support facility in Hope Hull for a briefing and an overview of their facility. I enjoyed talking with General Gordon, Colonel Bass, and others during my time there.

I stopped by Sabel Steel to meet with company leadership, including owner Keith Sabel. As you may know, Sabel Steel recently announced that thanks to our historic tax overhaul, they will use their significant savings to provide pay increases to all employees, invest in new equipment, expand their existing facilities, and hire additional workers. I enjoyed visiting this outstanding company, and I wish them continued success as we work to implement even more pro-growth policies to assist job creators across the district.

In Dothan one afternoon, I visited the Dothan Behavioral Medicine Clinic where I talked with staff and received a briefing on the Clinicom technology that is used to diagnose mental illness. Mental health is an acute problem facing our country, and I was pleased to learn more about their work.

One morning, I had the opportunity to speak to the Squadron School at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. We had a great conversation about leadership qualities and my role in Congress as an advocate for our military. I really appreciated the many thoughtful questions I received and am already looking forward to my next visit!

One day, I sat down with Jay Moseley, Teresa Collier, and John Hamm from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Fusion Center. They updated me on the status of the human trafficking problem in our state and their efforts to eradicate this horrendous plague on our communities. I appreciate these leaders and their work to combat this atrocious problem.

I also toured Common Ground Ministries’ Mercy House and helped serve lunch one afternoon. I really enjoyed meeting some wonderful people and having several deeply meaningful conversations. We are fortunate to have Common Ground and all its dedicated volunteers as a resource in the River Region.

These are just some of the many productive, informative meetings I had over the second half of this August district work period. Now that the month is behind us and fall is quickly approaching, I would like to extend a sincere “thank you” to all the individuals, businesses, local officials and others who hosted me and visited with me over the last several weeks. It is always a true joy to visit various communities in AL-02, and I look forward to more opportunities to learn from the people I represent.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

6 months ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Republicans continue to dismantle Obama-era regulatory regime

(Representative Martha Roby/Facebook)

Throughout the eight long years of the Obama administration, Alabamians suffered under an overly-empowered regulatory state that burdened hardworking men and women and their businesses with countless harmful federal regulations.

This type of overreach was seen across the many federal agencies, but perhaps none more blatantly than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I am very pleased that over the last year and a half, our unified Republican government has worked to dismantle this Obama-era regulatory regime.

I am glad to report that important progress has been made recently, as the Trump administration’s EPA announced it intends to replace the Obama aministration’s Clean Power Plan with President Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. This is great news that represents an important step towards returning power to the states and further breaking down the regulatory state.

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When the Obama administration first rolled out its so-called “Clean Power Plan,” they touted it as the “single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.” What they didn’t say was that despite the significant increase it caused in energy bills, the “Clean Power Plan” actually didn’t do much to alter the impact of future climate change. Under this plan, the EPA implemented stringent regulations that limited carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, thus hiking rates and shutting down energy plants – especially in the coal industry.

Of course, I think we can all agree that achieving more affordable, reliable, and safe energy is a priority, but adding more regulations and burdensome expenses to Americans are not solutions. That is why the Trump administration’s proposed ACE rule is so important. The rule would empower states with the flexibility to determine how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing modern, reliable, and affordable energy for the American people. This is a far better solution than the Obama administration’s “one-size-fits-all” approach that treated every state the same.

It’s no secret that for eight years, the EPA and other federal agencies went beyond their rightful authority and pushed for unnecessary regulations that negatively impacted our economy, discouraged investment, and stifled job creation here in the United States. These agencies became known for “backdoor legislating” by frequently attempting to circumvent Congress to set policy.

I am proud that over the last year and a half, Congress has worked to reverse course by passing several Congressional Review Acts, which is the process of striking rules and regulations left over from previous administrations. These actions, along with the steps taken by the Trump administration, have already and will continue to unleash our nation’s economy.

Among the many challenges we continue to face as a nation, I believe making America energy independent and not reliant on foreign nations must continue to be a priority. While I am pleased that energy exploration methods have improved over the years, we must continue to look for ways to secure America’s energy for future generations.

I believe American innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit are the keys to meeting the energy challenges of the 21st Century. President Trump’s proposed ACE plan embraces this outlook and will give Alabama companies certainty to create jobs and prosper as we move forward.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.