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: Sharing the joy of Easter

(M. Roby/Contributed)

For Christians, Easter is one of the most important and sacred days of the entire year because we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection from the dead. This special holiday gives us the time to gather with friends and family to spend time together, sharing the joy of Easter and the hope Jesus’ life, death and resurrection gives to all of mankind.

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Easter is also an important reminder of just how blessed we are to be Americans and call this nation home. While we enjoy the freedom to worship however we please without interference from the government, there are so many people around the world who don’t have the same experiences.

So, during the Easter holiday as you are gathered with loved ones, may we all take the opportunity to share the true joy of the season and give thanks for the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans. From my family to yours, Happy Easter! May God bless you, and may He continue to bless this great country.

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

Roby: Enhancing Internet safety for all ages

(M. Roby for Congress/Facebook)

In today’s connected world, Internet safety is a growing concern for all age groups. From credit card fraud and identity theft to cyberstalking and child predators, there are countless dangers individuals can encounter online. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), over the last five years, there has been an average of more than 284,000 Internet crime complaints filed per year. The complaints address a wide range of online scams and crimes affecting victims across the world.

As a mother of a 13-year old and a 10-year-old, I face the reality that most American children now have Internet access. Of course, Internet technology affords children access to endless amounts of valuable information and great sources of entertainment. However, it also exposes children to terrible dangers, including demeaning or hateful speech, false information, SPAM containing obscene material, and inappropriate websites. Most troublesome, children may also encounter predators who use the Internet as a tool to identify, groom and lure victims through social media sites.

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Another worrisome reality is that in 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported seeing a striking increase in the average dollar amount that people aged 70 years and older say they lost to fraud. Most commonly, elders receive emails or some other form of online contact from individuals who pretend to be their grandchildren and request large amounts of cash. The average amount of cash sent by elders to family or friend impostors in these situations is $9,000. Over the last several years, financial losses to family and friend imposters have significantly increased. Last year, losses reached $41 million, compared to $26 million in 2017.

These statistics are troubling, to say the least. It goes without saying that as adults, we bear a lot of personal responsibility when it comes to safeguarding our personal information and our children and loved ones on the Internet. It is important that we educate ourselves, our children, our parents, and our grandparents about the risks that exist online, but I believe the federal government also has a crucial role to play in managing these dangers.

During a recent Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Attorney General William Barr testified regarding the Department of Justice’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, and I had the opportunity to ask him specifically what the Department is doing to safeguard Americans from online predators. I appreciated his time and thoughtful response. It is imperative that Congress allocate adequate resources to combat Internet crimes and abuses, and I was glad to learn more about what steps the Justice Department is taking.

If you encounter a website that seems suspicious for children, you should immediately report that information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or by calling 1-800-843-5678. If you are a parent and come across offensive material or hear about online predators, you should quickly document the related online activities and report them directly to your local police department or the local FBI office.

Specific to our elders, in 2018, the Department of Justice established the Elder Justice Initiative to protect elderly Americans from financial threats. The Department provides elder-specific targeted training to local law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, and others to enhance our abilities to respond to elder abuse effectively and bring criminals to justice. If you suspect an elder is being abused by a scammer or in other non-life-threatening manners, you should report the information to the Adult Protective Services Association by calling 1-800-458-7214.

At the end of the day, you are still the strongest, most reliable protection for your loved ones from the dangers of the Internet. It is our job to educate our children, parents, and other elderly relatives about the threats that exist online, but if it ever becomes necessary, I encourage you to utilize the resources listed above to combat online predators and protect those who fall prey to them. I am hopeful that Congress will put into place a strong Fiscal Year 2020 budget for the Department of Justice so that we can further crack down on these atrocious Internet crimes.

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

2 weeks ago

Roby: Alabamians still need disaster recovery assistance – Congress must deliver

(M. Roby/Facebook)

The past few weeks in Washington have been even busier than usual. From votes and hearings to policy meetings and spending time with constituents in my office, the days seem to fly by.

During recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to participate in several incredibly important hearings, including speaking directly to Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie about making badly needed improvements at the Central Alabama VA and helping to lead my first hearing as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

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In committee hearings, I have an important opportunity to make the case for the priorities important to those of us who live and work in Alabama’s Second District, such as proper treatment for veterans, strong funding for our military, support for our farmers, protection for the unborn and more. This is a large part of my job as your representative in Congress, and I take it very seriously.

An equally important part of my job is spending time with constituents when they travel to Washington to meet with me and tell me about their ideas and concerns. Over the last several weeks, I have had the privilege of meeting with dozens of constituents who visited my office in Washington to advocate for a wide variety of issues.

During a recent constituent meeting, I sat down with members of the Alabama Cattlemen Association. We discussed a number of issues impacting the cattle industry in Alabama, and they asked for an update on disaster relief for farmers in the Wiregrass who experienced extreme devastation last October when Hurricane Michael ripped through areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Unfortunately, I did not have good news to share. In the House, a disaster relief package passed back in January, but the Senate hasn’t made much progress on their own version. In fact, Senate Democrats recently blocked a disaster aid bill that would have provided relief to victims of hurricanes, wildfires, and floods because they claimed it did not contain enough additional funding aid for Puerto Rico. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby authored an amendment to this bill that would have allocated funds toward aiding recovery from last month’s tornadoes in Lee County. That amendment also failed.

I am deeply disappointed by this. I firmly believe it is Congress’ responsibility to make disaster recovery funds available for the people who have suffered tremendous loss. In Southeast Alabama, from the Wiregrass over to Lee County, so many people have experienced devastating loss of life, property and livelihood in the last year. I remain hopeful that a solution will be reached – many Alabamians are depending on it.

In the meantime, I encourage anyone who needs disaster-related assistance to contact my offices. We want to serve as a resource for you during this challenging period of recovery. Rest assured that I will continue to support efforts to bring recovery assistance to the Second District.

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

3 weeks ago

Roby: Working to improve veterans’ care

(M. Roby/Contributed)

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as the representative for Alabama’s Second District is representing a large veteran population and advocating for their proper treatment and care. As a nation, it is critically important that we do all we can to care for our veterans and ensure the integrity of their service and sacrifice. When it comes to VA care, the very best is the only acceptable standard, and we have a very long way to go before this is achieved.

Improving services for Alabama veterans will always be a top priority of mine in Congress. As a member of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee for the 116th Congress, I am in a unique position to have consistent oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs and its health care systems. In this role, I will not stop pushing for badly needed improvements and higher standards at the VA facilities Alabama veterans should be able to count on.

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During a recent MilCon-VA hearing, we reviewed the VA’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget. In the last decade, the VA’s budget has grown significantly. Last year, President Trump signed into law the largest VA budget in history, and this year, the VA budget request is 9.5% higher than it was last year. I believe this increase over the last several years is a true and unfortunate testament to the fact that our country’s veteran population has been grossly underserved for many years. These additional resources and continued improvements are warranted.

At the hearing, I had the opportunity to speak directly to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. I told him that my only goal with the VA’s 2020 budget is that our veterans are finally cared for properly. The men and women who served our country should receive the level of care that was promised to them – no excuses.

During the hearing, I also discussed concerns related to the VA Choice Program’s reimbursement policy with hospitals that care for veterans who receive medical services outside the VA. Just last month, a rural hospital in our district called the VA invoice line and received an automated response stating that the VA was just now processing claims from April of last year. This situation is unacceptable and serves as another example of how the VA must be improved.

In the Second District, we know all too well that there are very real problems facing our small, rural hospitals. These hospitals should not have to worry about being reimbursed by the VA for veteran care, but unfortunately, this is a big problem. I know our rural hospitals hate to close their doors on the veteran community, but they simply cannot afford to continue providing care without being reimbursed by the VA in a timely manner. I was glad to have the opportunity to bring this serious issue to Secretary Wilkie’s attention, and I hope we will soon see the problem addressed.

The road to finally providing proper VA care to veterans is a long one, but our heroes deserve absolutely nothing less than the best we can give them. I am grateful to have a seat on the MilCon-VA Appropriations Subcommittee where I can interact directly with Secretary Wilkie and other top VA officials. I will continue to make the case to these leaders that veterans in Alabama and across the country face unacceptable challenges when it comes to receiving proper care through the VA. I am hopeful that, with hard work, consistent oversight and a healthy budget, we will finally accomplish meaningful improvements on behalf of our nation’s veterans.

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

4 weeks ago

Roby: Congressional internships provide valuable opportunities

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

Each summer, I am glad to offer internship opportunities to college students from Alabama’s Second District who have completed at least their undergraduate freshman year. With opportunities in all three of my Alabama offices and my Washington, D.C., office, my summer internship program is a competitive experience designed for students who are interested in learning about the inner workings of our nation’s Legislative Branch and the day-to-day operations of a congressional office.

In my Washington office, interns’ responsibilities include a variety of tasks, such as drafting and presenting a policy proposal, answering constituent phone calls, researching legislation, attending hearings and briefings and more. Washington interns also lead tours of the United States Capitol building for constituents who are visiting our nation’s capital city.

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In my district offices located in Montgomery, Dothan and Andalusia, interns may also be asked to perform a variety of tasks, including day-to-day office work like answering constituent phone calls and responding to inquiries. In addition, district office interns assist with casework and district-based projects of importance.

A congressional internship, whether in Washington or the Second District, is a truly valuable experience that provides students an opportunity to observe the workings of Congress. The experience gained from these internships helps students develop knowledge of our government and our district as well as various policy issues. Congressional interns also develop numerous professional skills that will be valuable in future pursuits.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have been fortunate to host many students as interns in all four of my offices. Over the years, these bright, young people have worked very hard for the people of Alabama’s Second District, and I have greatly appreciated their efforts. College students who are willing to serve their communities while learning more about the legislative process are uniquely valuable to our future. I’m looking forward to hosting more accomplished students in my offices this summer.

For the summer of 2019, I will have three month-long internship opportunities available in all my offices. The first internship session will be from May 13 to June 7. The second is June 10 to July 5, and the third is July 8 to August 2. The deadline to apply for this year’s summer internship program is Friday, April 12, at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

My office is always looking for talented, hardworking young people to help my staff and me better serve the people of Alabama’s Second District. If you know a college student who would be interested in this opportunity, please share this information with them, and encourage them to submit their application soon since the deadline is quickly approaching.

You can find my summer internship application by visiting www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/internships. If you’d like more information about the summer internship program, please contact my Washington, D.C., office by calling (202) 225-2901. We look forward to hearing from you, and we are excited to welcome new students in just a few short months!

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

1 month ago

Roby: Sharing agriculture community appreciation

(M. Roby/Facebook)

On Thursday, March 14, our country celebrated National Agriculture Day. Members of Congress from all corners of the nation took this opportunity to thank the farmers and producers in their respective states and districts, and President Trump issued a presidential proclamation acknowledging the immeasurable value farmers, ranchers, growers, producers and foresters contribute to our country and the world.

Agriculture has a significant impact on our economy. Our agriculture exports are valued at more than $141 billion and are critical to our country’s job market. It’s estimated that every $1 billion in agriculture exports supports roughly 8,400 American jobs. So, you see, agriculture and related industries are absolutely vital to this country’s economic success.

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Here in Alabama, agriculture continues to be our largest revenue-producing industry, contributing more than $70 billion in economic impact annually. With over 9 million acres of farmland and more than 48,500 farms, our state is a national leader in food production and a global competitor in many industries, including poultry, catfish, timber, cotton, peanuts, and livestock. In the Second District alone, agriculture is our largest employer, responsible for more than 93,000 jobs and $11 billion in economic impact.

At the end of last year, Congress passed and the President signed into law the new farm bill to provide certainty to the American families who work tirelessly to provide the food and fiber we all depend on. In Congress, 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 enabling our farmers to do their important work. I was proud to vote in favor of this bill to accomplish just that.

During this time of celebrating our country’s agriculture industry, I feel it is also important to acknowledge the communities in the Wiregrass that are still trying to recover after Hurricane Michael devastated lands and crops during harvest last October. Earlier this month, our neighbors in Lee County experienced severe devastation when tornadoes ripped through the southern part of the county, taking innocent lives and destroying homes and property.

In the wake of this tragic devastation, I firmly believe Congress should make agriculture disaster recovery funds available for these people who were hit the hardest. I remain hopeful that we will get this done soon, and in the meantime, I encourage those who need assistance to contact my offices.

At the end of the day, life as we know it wouldn’t exist without the hard work of farmers and producers across this country. Our agriculture community provides the sustenance that feeds America and the world, and we owe it to these men and women to recognize the critical role they play in our daily lives.

So, to all the outstanding individuals in Alabama and across the country who work in agriculture, thank you. You feed us, clothe us, fuel our economy, and set a strong example of hard work and perseverance. I will always be a vocal advocate for you in Congress.

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

1 month ago

Roby: Congress must continue to support the F-35 Program

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

In December of 2017, the U.S. Air Force announced that the Alabama National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery was selected for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission. I was honored to participate in the efforts to bring this coveted mission to the River Region, and I am incredibly proud of the men and women of the 187th who demonstrated the professionalism and capability that ultimately made this happen.

The F-35 is the military’s most cutting-edge war machine that will eventually replace many Cold War-era fighters like the F-16 Falcons currently flown by the 187th. This mission will provide a tremendous boost to the Montgomery area, and it will significantly enhance Alabama’s already large military footprint.

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Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked alongside my colleagues to rebuild and properly support our military and its critical national security programs after many years of devastating cuts under the Obama Administration. Most recently, I was proud to vote in favor of legislation for Fiscal Year 2019 that provides strong support for the important defense missions that happen in Alabama’s Second District at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and Fort Rucker. Specifically, this defense bill allocates funding for 93 additional F-35 aircraft as well as the largest pay raise for our troops in nine years.

This conversation about defense funding, especially for our missions in the Second District, is especially timely right now as discussions about Fiscal Year 2020 funding begin this month. Each year, the President maps out his Administration’s funding priorities and sends them over to the Legislative Branch for members of Congress to draft into legislation, debate, amend, and ultimately vote on. Throughout his presidency, President Trump has demonstrated a strong commitment to our military, and I expect we will see this dedication reflected in his Fiscal Year 2020 budget request as well.

In the House, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for proper defense funding, for the sake of our national security and the installations in our district. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, I recently joined some of my colleagues in cosponsoring H. Res. 177, which recognizes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a critical component of our country’s national security efforts.

As we work to replace some of our military’s more antiquated, outdated aircraft, and as we move forward with negotiations for our Fiscal Year 2020 budget priorities, it is critical that President Trump and Congress continue to provide adequate support for the development and procurement of this next-generation fighter. The F-35 program is very important to our national security and maintaining our military’s position as tip of the spear. I will continue to strongly support this mission in Congress, and I look forward to soon having this innovative fighter jet in Montgomery.

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

2 months ago

Roby: Fighting for those who fought for us

(Rep. Martha Roby/Facebook)

Here in Alabama’s Second District, we are fortunate to share our portion of the state with two of our nation’s finest military installations: Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery and Fort Rucker down in the Wiregrass. I’m honored to serve our district that is home to these installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and more than sixteen thousand military retirees.

In fact, according to last year’s federal statistics, our district has the thirteenth largest population of military retirees in the entire country, and many of these men and women were active duty servicemembers. We owe these individuals who have put on the uniform a great debt of gratitude, but unfortunately, our heroes often do not receive proper care.

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I’m sure you recall that just a few years ago, the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) was involved in a scandal of epic proportion. Some changes were made and new local leadership was installed, but CAVHCS still ranks as one of the nation’s worst VA medical centers.

To be clear, some veterans have told me that they have had positive experiences receiving care at CAVHCS, and I’m grateful for that, but isn’t this how the standard should be across the board, for every single veteran? Failure to properly treat even one veteran is still failure, and right now, the VA is failing far more than succeeding.

With my position on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I recently had the opportunity to speak to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie during a hearing. I was grateful to have a direct conversation with him about my concerns with failing VA medical facilities, including our system in Central Alabama.

During the hearing, I introduced myself to Secretary Wilkie and explained the severity of the problems our veterans face in Southeast Alabama. According to the VA’s own data, CAVHCS continues to be a terrible VA health care system, and I am sick and tired of getting status quo answers as to why. The VA’s goal should be for every single system in this country to be the very best it can be for our veterans. But, at CAVHCS, we’re seemingly unable to get even the simple things right, like just saying “hello” and greeting a veteran when they come in for their appointment so they feel valued and like someone cares.

As I told Secretary Wilkie, I am eager to cultivate a strong relationship with him and with his Department so that we can work together to make badly needed improvements at CAVHCS and other health care systems across the country. I also invited him to Southeast Alabama to visit our VA so he can see firsthand what is happening. It’s not working, and it is not the way it should be, so I hope to host him in the Second District soon so that he can see the state of affairs for himself and work with us to make changes.

At the end of the day, my priority is simple. I want to be in public places at home in our district, like church, the grocery store, or restaurants, and have veterans approach me and tell me how wonderful their experiences at the VA are. Instead, I usually speak with men and women, sometimes with tears in their eyes, who have flat out given up hope of ever receiving proper treatment, or in some cases, receiving care at all.

We should be giving veterans the absolute best care available in a timely fashion, and it just is not happening. This is a huge disservice to the men and women who have served us all, and I will not stop making the case to Secretary Wilkie until we get this right. In the meantime, if you are a veteran who needs any kind of assistance with the Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact one of my offices immediately. My staff and I work for you, we are grateful for your service, and we will fight for you.

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

2 months ago

Roby: Productive discussions in Alabama’s Second District

(M. Roby/Facebook)

During the recent week-long February district work period, I had the opportunity to travel around Alabama’s Second District to spend time on the ground meeting with constituents and local leaders, visiting schools and businesses, and ultimately listening to the views and concerns of the people I represent. Having this time to hear firsthand from the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District is vitally important, and my goal is always that these interactions enable me to be a better representative of our priorities in Washington.

In our state’s capital city, I had the opportunity to speak to the Montgomery Kiwanis Club during their weekly lunch meeting. I was glad to share with the group updates about the 116th Congress, including my new responsibilities on the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees. Of course, Democrats recently took control of the House, so this year will bring new challenges, but as I told the Kiwanis Club, I remain committed to fighting for our shared conservative priorities, including properly funding our military, caring for our veterans, securing the border, supporting the agriculture community and defending the unborn. Now, more than ever, it is important that conservative leaders speak out for these important causes.

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In Montgomery, I also participated in a roundtable meeting with members of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association. This was a valuable opportunity for me to hear firsthand what they are experiencing in the industry, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to be there and join the discussion. Our historic tax reform overhaul has resulted in hardworking Americans keeping more of their own money. It’s no secret that when families have more money in the budget, they are able to more easily dine out at restaurants and take trips. I believe that our state’s hospitality network is feeling the benefits of tax reform, and I’m eager to see the momentum continue.

Last, but not least, while in Montgomery, I stopped by Four Star Freightliner to meet with management and employees. I was given a fantastic site tour and really enjoyed learning more about their business. The company has several locations in Alabama and Georgia, and we are very fortunate to have them here in the Second District.

In Geneva, I spent time on campus at Geneva High School where I participated in a proclamation signing recognizing February as Career and Technical Education Month. Our state is fortunate to have a strong network of two-year colleges and high schools that offer CTE programs to thousands of students, ensuring that today’s young people are well-equipped for tomorrow’s job opportunities.

While in Geneva, I also had the opportunity to catch up with my friend, state Senator Donnie Chesteen. While the news has left the headlines, several areas in the Wiregrass are still trying to recover after Hurricane Michael devastated lands and crops during harvest last October. I assured Senator Chesteen that I firmly believe Congress should make agriculture disaster recovery funds available for the people who were hit hardest. I’m hopeful that we will get this done soon, and in the meantime, I encourage anyone who needs assistance to contact my offices.

In Hartford, I paid my first visit to Air Performance. I was glad to meet the company’s leadership, tour the impressive facility, and speak to their hardworking employees about the work I’m honored to do on their behalf in Congress.

I finished my week on the road in New Brockton where I toured their Town Hall building. I also visited with Mayor Kathryn Holley and Town Clerk Debra Andrews. I was excited to see New Brockton’s Town Hall for myself – this facility is truly something residents of the town should be proud of.

My week traveling the district was very productive, and I really appreciate the many individuals who took time out of their busy schedules to talk with me. My priority is always to be the very strongest representative of our shared beliefs that I possibly can, and hearing directly from my constituents is the best way for me to accomplish that goal. I’m grateful for the conversations we shared and am looking forward to many more opportunities to learn from the people I represent.

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

2 months ago

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 months ago

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

(M. Roby/Contributed)

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 months 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.

3 months 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.

3 months 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.

3 months 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.

4 months ago

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

(M. Roby/Contributed)

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.

4 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.

4 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.

5 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.

5 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.

5 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.

5 months ago

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

(M. Roby/Contributed)

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.

6 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.

6 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.