1 year ago

Byrne, Brooks slam House Democrats for politicizing national defense

Congressmen Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Thursday voted against what they criticized as a hyper-partisan Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee.

The vote occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. EST in the morning, coming after an all-night debate and markup session. The committee advanced its version of the NDAA by a 33-24 vote, with all Democrats voting in the affirmative compared to all but two Republicans voting against the measure.

This comes in stark contrast to recent precedent. The NDAA has been signed into law for 58 consecutive years, and the House Armed Services Committee usually passes the NDAA by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. For example, that committee passed the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA on a bipartisan 60-1 vote when Republicans held the majority last year.

This time around, Republicans like Byrne and Brooks are calling out Democrats for putting politics over the safety of the American people.

By reducing the overall topline, the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA reduces the total resources available to improve and maintain the nation’s defense readiness. The bill also expressly prohibits the use of funds to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the United States’ border with Mexico.

“National security and military programs are critical to Alabama, so I could not support the Democrat-written defense authorization bill that did not include the resources necessary to support our military men and women and restore our defense readiness,” Byrne said in a statement.

Byrne introduced amendments during the committee meeting to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees to the U.S. and to eliminate prohibitions on President Donald Trump modernizing Air Force One. However, Democrats defeated those amendments.

“Despite growing threats to our national security, Democrats used what has traditionally been a bipartisan defense bill to weaken our border security, harm our nuclear posture, and ease the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States,” he lamented. “Democrats included a provision to block President Trump from picking the paint in the new Air Force Ones, but they couldn’t even provide the base amount of resources Pentagon leaders say is necessary to defend our country.”

“The defense of our country is too important an issue, so I hope Democrats stop with the political games and decide to work together to ensure our military has the policy and resources necessary to keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.

‘Blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power’

Brooks also released a statement after the committee meeting, explaining that “on the whole, the FY20 NDAA undermines America’s border security and national security.”

“It’s unfortunate Socialist Democrats on the committee in bad faith refused to consider or support constructive Republican amendments that were repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted down on party-line votes,” he decried.

Brooks opined that in its current form as advanced by the House committee, the FY 2020 NDAA would be vetoed by the president.

“While the FY20 NDAA has good parts, 24 Republican Members of Congress, including myself, concluded that this FY20 NDAA draft simply puts too many American lives at risk,” the north Alabama congressman advised.

Remainder of Brooks’ statement as follows:

For starters, Socialist Democrats blatantly used the FY20 NDAA to promote open borders by attacking, thwarting, and undermining President Trump’s existing yet rather meager border security powers and policies. To be clear, border security IS national security. The FY20 NDAA blocks President Trump from using existing law and existing funding to build a border wall or otherwise promote border security that protects and saves American lives. In so doing, Socialist Democrats supported the deaths of over 30,000 Americans each year (2,000+ American deaths/year via homicides by illegal aliens on American soil [per Immigration and Customs Enforcement data] plus another 30,000+ American deaths/year from overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border [per Center for Disease Control and Drug Enforcement Agency data]). To be absolutely blunt and clear about America’s border security threat, more Americans have died as a result of America’s porous southern border than have been killed in any American conflict or war, excepting World War II and the Civil War. Yet, HASC Socialist Democrats, blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power over country, not only blocked ANY new, effective border security measures, they also voted to deny President Trump the use of some of the few border security powers he has under existing law to save and protect American lives.

Further dangerous weaknesses in the FY20 NDAA include, but are not limited to:

  • The FY20 NDAA is significantly below President Trump’s defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2020. Socialist Democrat spending cuts include: hypersonic weapons development, ballistic missile defense, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program— all of which are vitally important to America and the Redstone Arsenal defense community;
  • The FY20 NDAA endangers American lives by making it easier to move Guantanamo Bay terrorists to American soil;
  • The FY20 NDAA weakens America’s nuclear capabilities by eliminating funding for the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons needed to deter attacks by near-peer adversaries; and,
  • The FY20 NDAA takes aim at Redstone Arsenal’s Missile Defense Agency (“MDA”) by preventing MDA from developing the space-based ballistic missile intercept layer that helps protect America from nuclear missile attacks. A space-based intercept capability is likely the best, and perhaps only, opportunity America has to employ boost-phase missile defense measures for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (or hypersonic weapons) fired from nations with strong anti-access/area denial systems (including Russia and China). MDA should have the option to pursue a wide range of technologies in missile defense, and must have the flexibility to research and develop systems that work, no matter if the platform is air-based, sea-based, land-based, or space-based.

Notwithstanding that this FY20 NDAA draft has an overall detrimental effect on both America’s border security and national security, I am pleased my office helped successfully insert into the FY20 NDAA provisions beneficial to both America and Redstone Arsenal, to-wit:

  • $38 million is authorized for construction of an Aircraft and Flight Equipment Building on Redstone Arsenal;
  • $40 million is authorized for construction of a new air traffic control tower and airport terminal on Kwajalein Atoll (a key component of America’s missile defense assets);
  • A Department of Defense report to Congress on progress made to enable accelerated integration of new missile capabilities into the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD) program;
  • Full funding for the development of the Army’s Precision Guidance Kit – Anti-Jam (PGK-AJ);
  • A Department of Defense briefing to defense committees regarding on board vehicle power technology; and,
  • A Department of Defense report (validated by MDA) to the defense committees on the conduct and results of the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) sense-off.

Other plusses include authorization of the Space Corps (popularly known as the Space Force), lifting of the prohibition on standing up U.S. Space Command, support for the MDA’s request to develop a space sensor layer to detect and track hypersonic weapon threats, and a provision ensuring the Phase 2 National Security Space Launch program remains on schedule.

It is unfortunate HASC Socialist Democrats refused to work in a bipartisan manner— as Republicans did when we held the House majority— to craft a bill that both Republicans and Democrats could support. I’m hopeful the FY20 NDAA is improved in the House floor amendment process and the eventual Senate-House compromise bill is worthy of a ‘Yes’ vote. Such is life in a House of Representatives governed by radical Socialist Democrats who too often complain that Nancy Pelosi is ‘too conservative’ to be House Speaker.

The FY 2020 NDAA approved by the House Armed Services Committee would authorize the “Space Corps” being formed. Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) spearheaded that aspect of the legislation.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Tuberville supports #WeWantToPlay movement — ‘Let them play’

Count former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville as a supporter of the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

Prominent elected officials from across the country, including President Donald Trump, and major leaders in the college football world, including University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on Monday voiced their support for the movement.

In a video message posted to social media, Tuberville added his voice to the mix.

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The current Alabama Republican senatorial nominee said, “You know, college football is the lifeblood of the South, and allowing teams to play this season will bring a much-needed sense of calm to these strange times.”

Tuberville then echoed a key sentiment that Saban outlined earlier in the day.

“With proper medical supervision, college players are likely safer on the field than they are if they’re sent home. And most programs are implementing stricter guidelines than the CDC recommends,” Tuberville added. “If a player wants to opt out, that’s fine. But don’t take this opportunity away from thousands of young men who have worked their entire lives for this moment.”

“I support the players who want to take the field this season, and I hope you will join me. Let them play,” he concluded.

WATCH:

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

12 hours ago

Sierra Club endorses Joe Biden, calls him ‘champion for climate justice’

Emphasizing its agenda of “climate justice,” the California-based environmental group Sierra Club announced its endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday.

In a release touting its intent to elect what it termed “climate champions up and down the ticket,” Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune outlined the desire of his group to defeat President Donald Trump.

“We are confident that Joe Biden will be the champion for climate justice that America needs in the White House,” Brune stated. “As Americans head to the polls in November, our country will be facing crises on multiple fronts, including a climate emergency that disproportionately harms communities of color. This may be the most consequential election of our lives, and it is critical that we replace Donald Trump with a leader who understands the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and is ready to take bold action to solve it.”

Sierra Club has maintained an active presence in Alabama this year.

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In May, Secretary of State John Merrill declared Sierra Club an organization “threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses” through what he called a “shortsighted political agenda.”

Merrill cited lawsuits initiated by Sierra Club to restrict Alabama energy production as part of his contention that the group’s effort in the state would kill jobs.

“The Sierra Club, which is based out of San Francisco, California, does not represent Alabama thinking or values,” Merrill wrote. “It is troubling to see out-of-state activist groups working to influence our state’s power supply and its workers.”

In March, Sierra Club was among the environmentalist groups which descended upon the Alabama Public Service Commission to oppose natural gas usage for power generation.

Sierra Club endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

12 hours ago

Madison County Commission says it will not break the law to remove a Confederate monument

Alabama is obviously not immune from the racial strife gripping the United States. In recent months, we have seen statues come down, a state representative attended a birthday party for Nathan Bedford Forrest, small riots and acts of vandalism.

Like most Americans, Alabamians have generally accepted that the Confederate memorials all over the state on courthouse squares and in public parks are going to come down. Some are headed to cemeteries, some are headed to storage, and the fate of many is still unknown.

In Madison County, the Huntsville City Council and the Madison County Commission have both voted to move its controversial Confederate statue, and a new resting place at Maple Hill Cemetery has been selected. However, the monument still remains.

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That monument was vandalized last week, and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong did not want to use taxpayer resources to clean it up, so it stands defaced and ugly near the steps of the Madison County Courthouse.

Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Monday and made it clear he wasn’t going to clean it up or force county employees to do so, but he hinted that if someone wanted to clean it up in the dead-of-night, like when it was vandalized, they should have at it.

In the interview, Strong voiced frustration with recent reporting that indicated he and the Madison County Commission have not reached out to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office seeking a way to remove the statue and pay a $25,000 fine.

The commission views this as a non-starter. Strong believes attempting to “negotiate” breaking the law is a violation of his oath of office. Instead, he “filed an application of waiver with the committee based on a law that was written in 2017,” he advised.

Strong is worried about precedent, saying, “[T]here’s a lot of hesitation in contacting the attorney general. What happens if the next time someone that somebody desires to remove the name Jefferson Street, Washington Street or they don’t like the name on a building? What do we do? Just go in here and let somebody set a fee, pay the fee, and say hey just remove whatever you want to?”

My takeaway:

This is what should be done. The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is the law of the land and it has been upheld.

Obviously, Chairman Strong is right. The law needs to be followed, and if it is unwieldy, change the law. If you don’t, we will be seeing attempts to move historic markers, veterans memorials and the like that are followed by the presentation of a cartoonish $25,000 check.

Society cannot just ignore the laws we dislike and pay a fine and move on. The precedent is bad, and the Madison County Commission and its chairman want no part of it.

Listen:


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

13 hours ago

ICE announces arrests of two illegal aliens in Alabama, including for attempted murder

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday announced two recent Alabama arrests by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

According to a release, HSI made the pair of arrests in the Yellowhammer State on July 22.

Agents of the HSI Birmingham office reportedly arrested Christian Martinez, 32, a Salvadoran national and U.S. fugitive, on two state charges of attempted murder, as well as a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling and another for being an alien in unlawful possession of a firearm.

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HSI Birmingham worked with the United States Marshals Service on Martinez’s arrest on a fugitive warrant at a work site in Mountain Brook. ICE is also pursuing federal charges for unlawful firearm possession. Martinez was booked into the Jefferson County jail and given a $150,000 bond. This is an ongoing, HSI-led investigation, according to the release.

Additionally, HSI Huntsville arrested Iris Ferreira-Cardoso, 49, a Brazilian national, for alleged violations of federal immigration law.

Agents from HSI Huntsville and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were part of a federal-local law enforcement collaboration that reportedly arrested Ferreira-Cardoso at a residence in Owens Cross Roads in Madison County. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

ICE advised that both Martinez and Ferreira-Cardoso are aliens who were in the United States illegally.

Martinez is alleged to have illegally entered the country without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

Ferreira-Cardoso was previously removed from the United States in 2005. He is believed to have returned after that time, allegedly illegally entering without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

“People in these communities can rest easier knowing that these two violent criminals are not roaming the streets in search of their next victims,” commented Acting HSI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama.

“The United States should not be viewed as a safe haven for violent criminals fleeing justice in their own countries,” he concluded.

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

13 hours ago

Saban: ‘Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home’

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Monday afternoon weighed in on the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

In an interview with ESPN, Saban commented on the movement that is in part led by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

The movement, less than a day old, has quickly gained steam, garnering public reactions already by President Donald Trump, other prominent elected officials across the nation and many in and around college football.

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Speaking to ESPN, Saban pushed back on the notion that student-athletes will inherently be safer if the season is not played.

“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban said.

“I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety,” he outlined. “Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

The legendary coach noted that the SEC has already pushed back the start of its season to September 26 to allow the fall semester to resume before final decisions are made on football.

“It’s going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that,” Saban remarked. “But we really don’t know what that entails until it happens. It’s a big reason we pushed the season back, to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it.”

Bama senior All-American offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood also spoke with ESPN, strongly stating his position. He underscored that players need to have a voice as conferences and schools make decisions.

“There’s a lot of noise and bad stuff out there about playing football with the virus going on, but I haven’t really seen anything about what the players want,” Leatherwood told ESPN. “We’ve been grinding all summer, and you don’t want it to be all for nothing.

“The story that needs to be written is that we want to play,” he added. “We take risks every single day, especially in this sport, and life shouldn’t stop. If there is a chance for long-term effects if you get it and people don’t feel comfortable, then don’t play. Everybody is entitled to their right. But we want to play, and we’re going to play.”

Harris, speaking to ESPN, praised Saban’s leadership.

“Coach Saban listens to his players and wants to hear from us first,” the running back advised. “He told us that none of this is about him, but it’s about us. He wants to hear our concerns, and we made it clear that we want to play and feel like Alabama is doing everything they can to make sure we can play safely.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth backed Saban on the matter in a tweet.

“I’m with Coach Saban on this one. The player are much safer on campus and at practice than back home. For the players sake, let them play,” he commented.

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