Byrne: A ‘Do Nothing Congress’

Congress was sent home by Speaker Pelosi last Friday without securing a deal with the White House or the Senate on the next COVID bill. While we were told we might get a 24-hours’ notice to return, our calendar doesn’t show us coming back to Washington until November 16.

President Truman ran against the Republican majority 80th Congress (1947-49) as the “Do Nothing Congress” because it considered but refused to pass his “Fair Deal” program of liberal government initiatives as a follow on to President Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” In actuality, the 80th Congress was a very active one, passing major legislation including aid to Greece and Turkey as they faced Soviet-backed Communist insurgencies and the Marshall Plan, both significant parts of Truman’s anti-Communist program. They also passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which revised the National Labor Relations Act, and the National Security Act, a dramatic reorganization of U.S. defense and security efforts, including the creation of the Department of Defense, the Air Force, the CIA and the National Security Council.

The 116th Congress hasn’t come close to matching that level of legislative production. We spent virtually all last year on hearings regarding the Mueller investigation and the Democrats’ failed attempt to have President Trump removed from office. This year we had the sorry spectacle of the speaker ripping up her copy of the president’s State of the Union address and then a hurried flight from Washington in the spring and continuing into the summer.

We have passed four COVID bills which have been important to the national response to the disease and its effects on the economy, but nothing else of such national importance. We wasted a Saturday session in August on a false issue regarding the Postal Service (see how quickly that’s been forgotten) and chased our tails on numerous messaging bills that have no chance in the Senate. For its part, the Senate continues to confirm new conservative judges for the Federal judiciary because it doesn’t need the House to do that.

Pelosi did push yet another of her COVID bills last week which barely passed after 16 of her own members voted against it. The Senate won’t take it up, however, as it contains a host of non-COVID policies like marijuana banking and because it cuts funding to law enforcement (“Defund the Police” the Democrats say) while providing too much money to blue state and local governments which have totally mismanaged their COVID response.

We actually ended the week on a resolution condemning the QAnon conspiracy theory which was hardly an issue worth House attention during a pandemic. And then we left for six weeks.

I wasn’t elected to Congress to waste time, and my first five years were largely productive, even when the House had a Republican majority and Barack Obama was president. But these last two years have been a waste in the House because of Speaker Pelosi’s choice to use our valuable time on pointless failed attacks on President Trump and totally unrealistic messaging bills — that is, when she hasn’t sent us away from Washington for weeks at a time.

I don’t know what to predict when we return in November. It probably depends on who wins the elections. But if past is prologue, we in the House will end this Congress not with a bang but with wearied and loud gridlock, doing little or nothing, a true “Do Nothing Congress.”

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

14 mins ago

Drug discovered, tested at UAB becomes first fully FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19

Remdesivir on Thursday became the first drug to be fully approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating the coronavirus.

The antiviral produced by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences received an emergency use authorization from the FDA in May; Thursday’s announcement will likely expand its usage across the nation. The drug has been approved for the treatment of patients requiring hospitalization.

Remdesivir showed promising results for treating COVID-19 in a much-discussed clinical trial conducted in the spring and early summer. After this trial, White House health advisor and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci proclaimed to the nation that remdesivir “will be the standard of care” moving forward for coronavirus-positive inpatients. He called the trial results “quite good news.”

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was a participating clinical site in the now-famous study and administered the drug to participating patients. However, UAB’s involvement goes significantly farther.

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As reported by Yellowhammer News in February, a drug discovery program housed at UAB led to the development of remdesivir. This discovery came from a public-private partnership that also included Birmingham-based Southern Research and Gilead Sciences.

The drug discovery was funded by federal monies awarded to the Antiviral Drug Discovery and Development Center at UAB after U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) became chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Remdesivir was taken by President Donald J. Trump in his recovery from COVID-19, along with Regeneron’s experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail. That cocktail is currently being tested at UAB.

In a Thursday release, Gilead explained the treatment guidelines for remdesivir and reacted to the FDA approval.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilead has worked relentlessly to help find solutions to this global health crisis. It is incredible to be in the position today, less than one year since the earliest case reports of the disease now known as COVID-19, of having an FDA-approved treatment in the U.S. that is available for all appropriate patients in need,” stated Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences. “The speed and rigor with which [remdesivir] has been developed and approved in the U.S. reflect the shared commitment of Gilead, government agencies and clinical trial investigators to advance well-tolerated, effective treatment options for the fight against COVID-19. We will continue to work at speed with the aim of enhancing patient outcomes with [remdesivir] to ensure all patients with COVID-19 have the best chance at recovery.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

23 mins ago

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer: Joe Biden ‘highly, highly compromised’ by China

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) on Wednesday interviewed on Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” discussing the recent bombshell stories that have come out indicating that former Vice President Joe Biden was potentially involved in certain lucrative foreign business dealings of his son, Hunter.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe this week announced the assessment that Hunter Biden’s laptop and the emails on it “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.” The FBI has said that it has “nothing to add” to this assessment.

Palmer, speaking to radio host Matt Murphy, emphasized that the questions raised involving the Bidens are serious and “real.”

“This is a real story. The FBI has the laptop. This is not a Russian hoax. This is real,” the central Alabama congressman said.

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“And the most concerning thing is, it’s not what Hunter Biden did — we’ve known about Hunter Biden’s corrupt activities with Russia, with the money he got from the widow of the mayor of Moscow, we’ve known about the corrupt deal he had with Burisma, and there are other people that I think at some point we will be able to talk about that may have been involved, and we’ve known about what he did in China. What is new about this is the possibility, the allegation, that Joe Biden himself benefited personally, that he was taking money off the top for himself,” Palmer continued. “And I think that’s what’s got to be investigated.”

He lamented that “the mainstream media is ignoring this” and that “they think they can keep people from finding out about it.”

On Thursday, a business partner of Hunter Biden told Fox News that Joe Biden was indeed involved in his son’s foreign business dealings and profiting monetarily. The business partner also confirmed the authenticity of emails previously publicized by The New York Post and has provided outlets on Thursday with further electronic communications involving the Bidens not found on Hunter’s laptop.

Palmer in a subsequent part of Wednesday’s interview commented on what would be the consequence of Joe Biden becoming president while potentially compromised by China.

“You are in danger of being held hostage,” the congressman warned. “The whole world would suffer if Biden gets elected president. Because the Chinese have the goods on him.”

“Now think about that,” Palmer continued, “how it would impact nations like Australia and Japan and South Korea and Vietnam, who’s becoming an ally of ours because they fear the hegemony of China. It’s going to spread across the world. This is a critical moment for this country. And you literally have left-wing media that are part of a conspiracy to defeat a president. They tried to remove him from office, now they’re trying to defeat him and put somebody in office that is highly, highly compromised.”

He also raised the specter of what could happen if Biden is elected on November 3 and then investigations subsequently reveal that he is compromised by a foreign power.

“[I]t doesn’t give me any comfort whatsoever to think that Biden would be removed from office and replaced with … Senator [Kamala] Harris,” Palmer decried. “Communist Kamala.”

RELATED: Director of National Intelligence: Iran attempting to damage Trump’s reelection

In stark contrast to recent revelations and Palmer’s Wednesday remarks come the past statements of U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) about the Bidens’ foreign endeavors. Jones, an earlier endorser of Biden’s 2020 presidential bid, recently explained that he has considered Biden a friend and mentor since 1978. Jones recently had Biden campaign for him virtually in Alabama, and the former vice president also campaigned for Jones in his 2017 special election bid.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) last year called for an investigation into Joe Biden’s China ties.

“Do you think everything about these ties between the vice-president’s son and China are OK? Don’t you think we ought to ask some important questions like we spent all this time and money doing with President Trump? I’d like to hear what he has to say about that,” Byrne asked of Jones at the time.

When Byrne subsequently filed a bill to investigate the Bidens over foreign dealings, Jones then went into defense mode for his old friend.

“We should all want the same things – the facts, the truth, and the rule of law – not pandering partisanship trying to be relevant,” Jones asserted at the time, while not supporting an investigation.

His campaign spokesperson at the time also claimed, “Information about Joe Biden and his son has been around for a long time and all alleged improprieties have been debunked by numerous sources.”

RELATED: Jones on Biden investigation: ‘We cannot go around trying to investigate every perceived enemy of the president, especially this president’

Overall, Jones has been quick to come to Biden’s defense this election cycle. Alabama’s junior senator defended Biden last year when he came under fire for remarks about former segregationist Democratic senators, as well as deeming past sexual misconduct allegations against Joe Biden as distractions from beating Trump in 2020.

Additionally, Jones earlier this year attacked the “credibility” of Tara Reade, the former Biden Senate staffer who has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993. She recently interviewed with “60 Minutes” in Australia about the alleged assault.

RELATED: Doug Jones: Biden does not have ‘senior moments’ — Just ‘Joe Biden moments’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

39 mins ago

After staying flat for weeks, Alabama’s coronavirus numbers are going up again

Alabama’s coronavirus statistics have climbed steadily over the last week after spending more than a month on a plateau.

Over the last seven days, the state has averaged 898 new cases per day, a rate not experienced since the first few days of September.

Especially troubling to experts, 16.06% of coronavirus tests administered in the last 14 days have come back positive, the highest rate the state has ever experienced.

Yellowhammer News used numbers from the website BamaTracker for this report. BamaTracker collects and charts the information gathered by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

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The disease has reached Alabama’s halls of power; Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth and at least five state senators have come down with the virus. Ainsworth reports being asymptomatic, but State. Sen Randy Price (R-Opelika) was hospitalized earlier this year during an endured an extended battle with COVID-19.

Between 6,300 and 7,000 coronavirus tests have been reported each day in Alabama during October, a rate that has remained consistent as the totals of new positive results have risen.

Yellowhammer News is referencing new cases as those testing positive via a molecular-based PCR test and confirmed by ADPH. When including positive results from rapid test devices, the average new cases per day for the last week rises to 1,129.

Ninety-nine Alabamians have been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 each day over the last week, a tick up from the mid-80s average seen for most of the last six weeks, but not as pronounced as the rise in the new case count.

Clicking image opens interactive new cases chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)
Clicking image opens BamaTracker in new tab. (BamaTracker)

Public health experts have reported on numerous occasions that a rise in hospitalizations usually follows a rise in new cases by around two weeks, and increased deaths follow hospitalization surges by two to five weeks.

Sixty-five of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, indicating continued widespread transmission throughout the state.

Rural counties like Dekalb, Covington and Jackson have all had pronounced outbreaks in the last two weeks.

For the last seven days, Alabama has averaged 10 deaths among people with a confirmed case of the coronavirus. The state’s total death toll from the virus is now 2,843, with another 183 that are listed as probable but not yet confirmed by ADPH.

Alabama’s new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all down from their mid to late summer peaks.

Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, told WSFA this week that he does not expect Alabama to be exempt “from what looks like it’s going to be a second wave” of the coronavirus.

Williamson further surmised to the Associated Press in recent days that Alabamians were suffering from “COVID fatigue” and not observing precautions like wearing masks or socially distancing as much as citizens did earlier in the fall.

Health officials are urging every citizen to go get a flu shot, saying that a bad flu outbreak on top of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could be disastrous for the state and nation’s health care system.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

54 mins ago

Ainsworth stands by opposition to mandatory masks, vaccines — ‘Everybody needs personal responsibility,’ ‘Gov’t mandate is a dangerous precedent’

Late Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth’s office revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19, noting the diagnosis despite having followed CDC health and safety protocols.

Ainsworth had been a critic of the mask mandate and other restrictions implemented by Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris done in the name of preventing the spread of coronavirus in the past.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, Ainsworth said he still felt the mandates were a “dangerous precedent” and suggested emphasizing personal responsibility.

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“It doesn’t at all,” he said. “I think everybody needs personal responsibility. I think the government mandate is a dangerous precedent. I stand by that. Here’s what I want you to understand, Jeff — I had a mask on in Sunday school and was the only person on the row I was sitting on. Maybe I got it somewhere else. Maybe I didn’t. But I guess my point is you can still do all these things, and I exercise caution. The virus — maybe it was on a doorknob. Who knows? But I still got it. So, I don’t think the mask is the cure-all that everybody necessarily thinks it is.”

“My thing is this: I think it is smart to wear a mask,” Ainsworth continued. “It’s going to be an extra layer of protection if you’ve got health issues. You need more than a mask. You probably don’t need to be out and about. You really need to be careful. But most people — they’ll be fine. They’ll get over it. We just need to utilize common sense and, you know, I think we’ll get through this. When a vaccine gets here, it’s going to help a lot.”

Ainsworth added that he was concerned about the possibility of mandatory vaccinations, as well.

“To me, Jeff, that’s just a policy issue,” he said. “I don’t think we need to be mandating masks.  I don’t think we need to be mandating vaccines. I don’t think that’s government’s role. I think that’s each individual’s role to decide what’s best for his or her family and that government should not be involved with that. That’s been my issue with this. Jeff Poor should decide whether or not he wants to wear a mask, or whether or not he should get a vaccine, not the government.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 hours ago

This weekend’s college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @hayden_crigler.