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: Honoring our symbol of freedom

(M. Roby/Facebook, PIxabay, YHN)

On June 14th, 1777, our country’s flag was officially adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Many years later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that established June 14th as Flag Day, and on August 3, 1949, this day of observance was officially established by an Act of Congress.

Now, every year on June 14th, our country has a special opportunity to celebrate our flag and reflect upon what it symbolizes. The American flag displays 13 horizontal stripes alternating red and white with a blue rectangle, specifically referred to as the “union,” that bears 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine horizontal rows. As you may know, the 50 stars on the American flag represent our 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the United States.

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While the design of the American flag has been officially modified 26 times since its initial adoption in 1777, the symbolic meaning has remained the same. Whether flown on front lawns across Alabama, in front of schools, universities and businesses of all sizes, or proudly displayed at military installations across this great country, for centuries the American flag has been an inspiring emblem of pride, hope, and freedom for countless people throughout the world.

Whenever I see our flag, I am especially reminded of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought to defend it and all it represents. This year, Flag Day comes during an especially important time, as I recently was proud to announce my 2019 appointees to our United States service academies.

Each year, it is my distinct privilege and honor as a member of Congress to nominate students from the Second District to be considered for appointment to the United States Air Force, Naval, Military and Merchant Marine Academies.

This year, I am very pleased to announce that I nominated the following students who received official appointments to the service academies:

  • Daniel Brayden Banner is the son of Dan and Amanda Banner. He is a graduate of Providence Christian School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.Theodore Maxwell Dowd is the son of John and Donna Dowd. He is a graduate of Northview High School in Dothan, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Amore Jacarra Hardy is the daughter of Regina Hardy. She is a graduate of Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, and she received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Timothy Jurard McClendon is the son of Emma Lee McClendon. He is a graduate of Carroll High School in Ozark, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Johnny M. Montgomery, III, is the son of Johnny Montgomery. He is a graduate of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Jackson Scott Parker is the son of Scott and Hannah Parker. He is a graduate of Abbeville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • Isaac Taylor Sherman is the son of Jeremy and Morgan Sherman. He is a graduate of Prattville High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
  • Seth Cameron White is the son of Steve and Terri White. He is a graduate of Wicksburg High School, and he received an offer of appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

In the spirit of Flag Day, I believe these students from our communities are to be commended not only for their academic excellence, but more importantly, for their eagerness to serve our great country. I am incredibly proud to join their families, friends, teachers and hometowns in offering my sincerest congratulations and thanks. Our flag will continue to shine as a symbol of freedom because of young leaders like these men and women.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

Roby: Help is on the way for farmers

(M. Roby/Facebook)

As those of us who live and work in the Second District remember well, last year on October 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall and ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. This storm was the third most powerful hurricane to ever descend upon the United States mainland. The destruction left in its wake was devastating, and many people are still trying desperately to recover.

After eight long months, I am glad to finally report that Congress approved and the president signed into law H.R. 2157, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, which includes more than $3 billion for agriculture disaster relief. I am very glad that we have at last delivered this long-overdue assistance for farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast. Now, we can begin the process of helping the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation. I believe it is important that the people I represent understand what this process looks like moving forward, so I would like to take this opportunity to briefly lay it out.

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Now that the bill has been passed by Congress and signed by the president, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin implementing the law and its programs. Farmers will have to sign up for relief assistance through USDA, and more information about USDA disaster assistance programs is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/. Next in the process, USDA will determine who receives these disaster assistance funds. Once these decisions are made, USDA will begin the process of distributing these dollars.

While I am very glad that Congress at last delivered on our responsibility to make these funds available, there remains a road ahead for USDA’s actions before assistance is distributed. Still, I want the farmers I represent in southeast Alabama to know with confidence that help is on the way. I encourage you to share information about this process with the farmers you know who might benefit from hearing about it, and of course, if you are a farmer seeking assistance funds, make sure you sign up through USDA when the time comes. No sign-up deadline has been issued yet, but I will be sure to keep you updated as we move forward through the process.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Alabama and in the Second District, so it is vitally important that we quickly provide assistance to those who need it. When your farm, your family member’s farm, or your neighbor’s farm is flourishing, that is a good sign that our entire state’s economy is strong, too. A vibrant agriculture economy means we have a vibrant Alabama economy, and that is something we all want. I remain committed to ensuring that Alabama’s farmers get the help they need as we work to rebuild together.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 weeks ago

Roby: A productive week of travel in the Second District

(Congresswoman Roby/Facebook)

For the last week of May, Congress was out of session for a district work period, and I had the opportunity to travel around the Second District. Throughout the week, I visited with constituents and local leaders, toured businesses and industries and spent time with some of our servicemembers at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.

During my week of district travel, I made several stops in Brundidge, Ozark, Montgomery, Eufaula and Dothan. I cannot express enough how truly valuable it is for me to spend quality time with the people I represent here in Southeast Alabama. My candid conversations with constituents enable me to be a stronger representative for our shared views in Washington, and I am grateful for every opportunity I get to interact directly with you.

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In Brundidge, I paid a visit to City Hall where I talked with Mayor Isabell Boyd and a group of constituents. I really learned a lot during our time together, and I thank those who showed up to make our conversation productive.

In Ozark, I stopped by Bell Helicopter to visit with leadership and employees and toured their impressive facility. Bell currently employs 76 people, and they perform incredibly important work supporting our military. I was glad to see their work firsthand, and I am eager to see the company continue to thrive and grow right here in the Second District.

After visiting Bell Helicopter, I spoke to the Ozark Kiwanis Club during their weekly lunch meeting. I gave the group an update from Washington, perhaps most importantly about our efforts to deliver a disaster relief bill. Since the Senate recently passed their version of a bill, the House will act on this legislation very soon. I am optimistic we will send it to the President’s desk shortly. Farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the country desperately need help recovering, and I remain committed to pushing this over the finish line.

Next, I visited Chris and Monica Carroll, fifth-generation owners of a beautiful farm in Dale County. The Carrolls produce cattle, poultry, soybeans, and wheat, and I toured their extensive operation and was able to see firsthand the very hard work they do. I appreciate the Carrolls for graciously hosting me and sharing their insight and experience. Since agriculture is the backbone of our district’s economy, it is vitally important for me to spend time on the ground with our farmers to hear directly from them.

I also spent a fantastic day in Eufaula. During my time there, I stopped by Humminbird Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics where I was given a very engaging and informative site tour. I enjoyed visiting with employees, and I was especially glad to learn more about the innovative work they perform. Johnson Outdoors currently employs 240 people in Eufaula, and we are fortunate to have these job opportunities in our district.

While in Eufaula, I also visited American Buildings Company for a meeting with company leadership to learn more about their legislative priorities. I enjoyed our time together and appreciated the conversation about ways we should improve our country’s infrastructure.

For my last visit in Eufaula, I stopped by the airport with Mayor Jack Tibbs for a briefing on tornado recovery efforts. That area of town was badly damaged earlier this year when a tornado made landfall, and my office remains engaged and ready to assist where we are able. I am grateful for my strong relationship with Mayor Tibbs and for his dedication to keeping me informed about all developments in Eufaula.

In Dothan, I attended a ceremony at Glasstream Powerboats celebrating their business’ expansion. I was glad to have the opportunity to give congratulatory remarks alongside local leaders, including Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba. I’m always thrilled any time I have the chance to celebrate the creation of new jobs here in our communities. Glasstream Powerboats’ hard work has delivered an additional 40 jobs for the Dothan area, and that is an accomplishment we should all be proud of.

Next in Dothan, I attended the grand opening of a new Five Star Credit Union location. It was wonderful to meet employees and tour their brand new facility. This was another fantastic opportunity to celebrate new jobs in the Wiregrass, and I was glad to be involved in the festivities.

Last, but certainly not least, in Montgomery, I spent time at the 187th Fighter Wing for Col. William Sparrow’s Change of Command ceremony. Col. Sparrow has led the 187th with distinction, and I am tremendously grateful for his service to our country and to the River Region. I congratulate the new commander, Col. Edward Casey, for his achievement and look forward to working with him as we strive to strengthen our district’s military footprint together.

I share all this information to let you know that the May district work period was informative and very productive. I welcome every opportunity to engage with the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District, and I extend my thanks to each person who made these meetings meaningful. It is a tremendous honor to serve you in Congress.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

3 weeks ago

Roby: We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all members of our Armed Forces

(M. Roby/Contributed)

Every year, on the last Monday in May, our country takes a collective pause to remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to this nation. Memorial Day isn’t simply a day off work, and it is much more significant than just marking the unofficial start of summer. This special holiday is intended to be a day set aside for us to stop and acknowledge those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy.

There are many ways to honor our fallen heroes, whether by visiting a national memorial to pay respects, attending a Memorial Day parade or another event in your community, or supporting organizations that aid our wounded soldiers. It is also very important to remember that this day is especially somber for the many families who lost loved ones in the line of duty.

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Another special way to pay tribute to fallen soldiers around Memorial Day is to acknowledge the active duty servicemembers and veterans all around us. Our district is home to two of our nation’s finest military installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and nearly 16,000 military retirees and veterans. It is because of their sacrifices, and those of the many men and women who gave their lives in service to this country, that we are free today. In the spirit of this important day of remembrance, I encourage you to make a point to thank a veteran, current servicemember, or a fallen soldier’s family members for their dedication and sacrifices.

While we set aside one day specifically to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, our veterans, servicemembers and military families are always at the forefront of my mind, and advocating for improved veterans’ services is one of my top priorities in Congress. If we are to truly honor and respect the sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for this country, it is imperative that we properly care for the veterans and military families right here in our communities. It is no secret that much work remains on this front here in Central Alabama, and I will remain actively engaged until we get this right by our veterans.

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all members of our Armed Forces – those who gave their lives in service to our country, the veterans who are still with us today and those who have passed, and the brave men and women who are currently wearing the uniform. In Congress, I know that one of my most pressing responsibilities is to honor these sacrifices by fighting to improve veterans’ care, and I remain committed to that duty on your behalf.

In the spirit of Memorial Day, I extend my sincerest gratitude and condolences to all families who lost a loved one in the line of duty. My family and I mourn with you during this time especially. To all those who have served or who are currently serving, thank you. America shines as the Land of the Free because of you and the brave men and women who carried the torch before you. May we always remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

4 weeks ago

Roby: A pro-life update from the federal level

(M. Roby for Congress/Facebook)

Throughout my time in Congress, I have been staunchly and unapologetically pro-life. I will continue to use this platform to fight for life at every stage because unborn babies cannot fight for themselves. Since much of the news in our state and throughout the country lately has focused on recent pro-life efforts, I would like to take this opportunity to share an update about my work on the federal level to defend the unborn.

In February of this year, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that would restrict Title X family planning grants from being steered to entities that are not physically and financially separate from abortion providers. A series of court injunctions have frozen these rule changes, and as a result, hundreds of abortion facilities, like Planned Parenthood, are still receiving federal tax dollars through Title X grants.

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While the rule is going through the judicial process, the Democrat majority on the House Appropriations Committee has elected to tie the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services through legislation stating that the Department may only act in accordance with regulations established prior to January 18, 2017, just two days before Donald Trump became President. This is unacceptable – we simply cannot handcuff the current administration to regulations of the past.

During the recent full Appropriations Committee markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, I offered an amendment that would allow the courts, rather than the Democrat majority in the House, to decide the fate of the Trump administration’s proposed rule restricting Title X family planning grants from being awarded to facilities that provide abortions. Despite the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, abortion providers have been able to get their hands on American tax dollars through these Title X funds. I am unapologetically pro-life, so I don’t want this to happen, and the majority of the people I represent don’t want this to happen.

The Trump administration’s proposed rule would draw a clear, bright line between family planning services and abortion providers. Unfortunately, my amendment did not pass, but to ensure that the rule has a fighting chance of becoming law, we must allow it to go through our judicial process – not block it legislatively as part of a political game.

In addition to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also taking measures to stand up for the unborn. Two foreign companies, Aid Access and Rablon, have been known to distribute chemical abortion drugs to customers in the United States by mail-order. This practice is already illegal, and the FDA has taken action against it, but it is still happening.

This abortion drug, called Mifeprex, is approved by the FDA, but it is only legally available to patients in the United States through health care providers. It is not available in retail pharmacies, and it is certainly not legally available on the Internet. However, these abortion-by-mail providers, primarily based in Europe, have widened their consumer base to include the U.S. They provide remote consultations, send prescriptions to be filled in India, then send the abortion drug to U.S. customers by mail.

By violating the FDA’s safety protocols, these companies are endangering the health of American women and their children. The FDA has been combating these practices, but I recently led a letter, signed by 117 of my colleagues, that was sent to Dr. Norman Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, urging him to further crackdown. I was proud to join my fellow pro-life colleagues in sending the clear message that we will not tolerate these dangerous, illegal practices, and I applaud the steps the FDA has already taken to protect women and unborn children.

I share these updates to make the point that while we still face challenges, our pro-life momentum is strong, and I will keep pushing forward on the federal level. I want the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District to know that defending the unborn remains a top priority of mine, and I will continue to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

1 month ago

Roby: A report from my eighth Mother’s Day visit with troops overseas

(M. Roby/Facebook)

On May 7th, I returned from a bipartisan female congressional delegation (CODEL) to Afghanistan and Jordan, led by my good friend and colleague Congresswoman Susan Davis from California. This CODEL marked my eighth year traveling to visit with deployed U.S. soldiers and Afghan women around Mother’s Day. During the trip, I had the privilege of meeting with U.S. service members and top military commanders as well as Afghan and Jordanian leaders.

It is a tremendous honor to make this trip each year to spend time with our brave military personnel. The visit always serves as a reminder of our servicemembers’ sacrifices: They spend months at a time away from their families, often in harm’s way, defending our freedoms. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to thank some of our heroes in person for the difficult work they do to keep our nation secure.

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This annual trip is also important because it affords me the opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to improving circumstances for Afghan women. I am glad to report that Afghan women have recently experienced progress toward obtaining basic human rights, and they are also playing an increased role in the Afghan National Defense Security Forces. It is critical that American leaders remain engaged to ensure continued forward momentum for these women. The success of Afghan women is indicative of the entire country’s success, and I am optimistic about the process toward reaching peace.

Our time in Jordan was also very rewarding. I am grateful for our country’s important relationship with this ally and for the stability they bring to the region.

I am thankful for our servicemembers every single day, but as a mom myself, I am especially grateful for these women – and men – around holidays like Mother’s Day. If you are a parent, I think we can probably agree that parenting, while a precious blessing, is challenging in its own right. I am overcome with gratitude for the brave men and women who wake up each day striving to be the best parent they can be while also dedicating their own lives in service to this country so that we can be safe and so future generations can experience the freedom that is uniquely American.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all servicemembers, but especially to the moms and dads who wear the uniform. Many of us spend this special holiday with our families and loved ones, and we are only able to do this because of your sacrifices. Finally, I hope we will all keep in our thoughts and prayers the parents who are currently deployed, including those I was fortunate to spend time with in Afghanistan and Jordan, and the children here at home awaiting their safe return.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

1 month ago

Rep. Roby: An Accurate 2020 Census is Vitally Important to Alabama

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a count of every resident in the United States, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution. This action is critically important to understanding current facts and figures about our country’s people, places, and economy. It’s hard to believe that a decade has almost passed, and we are just eleven months away from next year’s April 1 Census.

It goes without saying that a lot has changed over the last ten years, especially on the technological front. As times and trends change, it is important that the method by which we conduct the Census also evolves to ensure we are reaching the most people possible. That said, it’s no surprise that in 2020, we will largely depend on an Internet system to count Americans, relying heavily on digital advertising and social media platforms to spread the word.

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As the Census Bureau works to modernize its various platforms ahead of the 2020 Census, I was glad to hear about these efforts directly from Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, during a recent Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. During this hearing, I had the opportunity to discuss with Director Dillingham how important it is that all Alabamians be accurately counted in 2020.

Back in 2010, our state did not do a great job accounting for all of our people, especially children below the age of six and those individuals in rural communities. As I told Director Dillingham, we must make sure that is not the case in next year’s count. You see, the Census doesn’t just decide the number of congressional seats Alabama has, it also decides our number of Electoral College votes. We currently have nine Electoral College votes, and if the 2020 Census is not accurate, that number will drop to eight. This is a very big deal, and it is something we Alabamians do not want to see happen.

The Census also determines the amount of federal dollars that come into Alabama, specifically to hospitals, job training centers, schools, infrastructure projects, and other emergency services. Inaccurate Census numbers force our state to do more with less, and that cannot happen again in 2020.

As we all know, Alabama’s Second District and the rest of the Southeastern corner of the state are made up of very rural communities. To achieve the most accurate count possible in next year’s Census, it is critical that we reach the men, women, and children living in the rural areas throughout the country.

During my conversation with Director Dillingham, I asked him how the Census Bureau plans to use its resources to partner with our state and community-based organizations to encourage participation in the Census, especially in hard-to-count, rural communities. I made sure Director Dillingham understands that a large part of our district, and many areas of our state, lack access to reliable broadband and thus may not utilize the Internet and social media enough to encounter online advertising about the upcoming Census. This will certainly be a challenge, but it is one we must address.

I also brought up another challenging reality that we must face: Over the last year, Alabama and other states in the Southeast have been beaten with hurricanes, tornadoes, and other powerful storms. There has been flooding throughout the Midwest and fires ravaging California. These disastrous events have caused thousands of Americans to be displaced from their homes, and we must ensure that they, too, are counted in next year’s Census.

To make sure the 2020 Census is as accurate as it can possibly be, it is important that leaders on all levels of federal, state, and local governments are communicating about ways we can spread the word and reach the most people. I believe the modernization of our Census process will lead to excellent results next year, but it is critical that we make every effort to reach those who have been displaced by severe weather as well as the people in rural communities who may not have reliable access to social media and online advertising.

The future of our state’s representation in Congress and the Electoral College are at stake, and we must ensure that Alabama receives its fair share of federal funding for numerous programs we all depend on. I encourage you to start spreading the word about the April 1, 2020, Census. It will be here before we know it, and Alabama needs an accurate count.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

2 months ago

Roby: An April recap from the road

(M. Roby/Facebook)

While Congress was out of session for the April district work period, I had the opportunity to spend time on the road, traveling throughout Alabama’s Second District, meeting with constituents, businesses, industries and local leaders. As I always say, I appreciate every chance I get to hear directly from the people I represent, and I believe our interactions enable me to be a stronger advocate for our shared beliefs in Congress.

During the April district work period, I spent time in Prattville, Greenville, Evergreen, Castleberry, Tallassee, Montgomery and Dothan. Along the way, I had very productive conversations and am grateful to every person who took the time to share with me their thoughts, opinions and concerns.

In Prattville, I spoke to members of the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce about my committee assignments for the 116th Congress and my priorities on behalf of the Second District. During the visit, I was glad to catch up with friends from the Business Council of Alabama, and I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise award recognizing my continued efforts to enact pro-business laws. In Congress, I will always push for an economic environment that enables companies of all sizes to flourish and succeed.

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In Greenville, I met with Mayor Dexter McClendon and other community leaders. We had a productive discussion about issues facing the Butler County area and ways my office can be helpful. In Evergreen, I spoke to a joint meeting of the Evergreen Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs and offered a legislative update from Washington.

In Castleberry, I stopped by the Weyerhaeuser lumber plant to visit with leadership and tour the impressive plant. Afterward, I paid a visit to Castleberry City Hall where I spoke with Mayor Henry Kirksey and others.

In Tallassee, I had the fantastic opportunity to speak to the Tallassee High School government class. I always enjoy any invitation to spend time with Alabama students and share with them the importance of service and leadership. This was a particularly impressive group of young people – they asked several thoughtful questions.

In Montgomery, I participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the Alabama Roadbuilders Association. I was grateful to hear their thoughts about ways we can reinvigorate our state and nation’s badly aging infrastructure. After this meeting, I visited MGMWERX for a tour. I was glad to learn more about their partnership with Air University and their ongoing projects to help our military remain on the cutting edge.

While in the Wiregrass, I joined Governor Kay Ivey, Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba, and other leaders to celebrate the Dothan Chamber of Commerce’s 100th anniversary. It was truly a privilege to honor this tremendous occasion alongside so many individuals who have worked tirelessly to make Houston County and great place to live and work. One hundred years ago, the Chamber started as a small office that helped establish the prices of produce and cotton. Today, the organization is comprised of more than 950 businesses, professionals, and individuals who are all focused on serving as a catalyst for business and community growth in Dothan. I am looking forward to many more years of continued success.

After the Chamber’s event, I stopped by Ready Mix USA in Dothan to tour the facility and catch up with leadership. This great company has plants in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. The Dothan Ready Mix facility employs 24 people, and I was glad to see their operation firsthand.

This April district work period was informative and productive thanks to the many individuals and businesses who hosted me and shared their thoughts about a wide range of issues facing our nation. I am looking forward to having many more of these interactions in the days and weeks to come. It is an honor to serve Alabama’s Second District in Congress, and I encourage you to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance.

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

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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 months 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 months 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.

3 months 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.

3 months 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.

3 months 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

4 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.

5 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.

5 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.

5 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.

5 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.