3 months 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

19 mins ago

Canfield elected chair of Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Waggoner vice-chair

The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies recently held its inaugural meeting, at which commission members elected Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield as chairman and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) as vice-chairman.

The commission plans to schedule additional meetings over the next seven months, with all meetings being open to the public.

The members will deliver a report in May to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, recommending strategies and policies on how AI and other emerging technologies will be of benefit to the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

In a statement on Thursday, Canfield explained the importance of the commission’s work.

717

“Artificial intelligence is a powerful, disruptive technology that has the potential to forever change the way we live our lives and how businesses across Alabama operate,” he emphasized.

“It’s critical that we understand how AI will bring about these sweeping changes, and this Commission will help us develop insights into what the future has in store for Alabama’s citizens and businesses,” Canfield concluded.

Waggoner spearheaded the legislative resolution that formed the commission. His leadership has been, and continues to be instrumental, in this process. The powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee identified the goal of Alabama being on the cutting edge of AI research and job creation in the technology sector.

“We want Alabama to be a leader in AI research, innovation, technology start-ups, and technology jobs,” Waggoner stated. We believe that we are competitive with other states.”

He continued, “The Commission will look at how Alabama is positioned and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow. Those are some of the issues and questions this Commission is going to answer. We will meet with key business groups and different industry sectors to understand the impact of AI and automation on their industries.”

According to Waggoner, the commission will also examine how schools and universities can develop AI-educational programs, and investigate what privacy safeguards might be needed to protect consumers.

“We want Alabama’s education system in a place where we can equip students with AI-relevant skills through engineering and technology classes and apprenticeship programs,” he added. “As we promote innovation and educational readiness, we must also protect the privacy rights of citizens, and examine whether existing state laws are effective in regulating these emerging technologies. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

The commission will be divided up into five sub-committees, focused on the following:

  • state regulations, government oversight, and potential legislative action;
  • education and workforce development;
  • healthcare and medical services;
  • future and evolving industries, economic development, and research;
  • ethics, privacy and security.

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) was appointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Roberts came away from the body’s initial meeting impressed at the experience and expertise of its membership.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are very complex subjects. Thankfully, I think we have some of the finest minds in our state working on this project. The sub committees that have been established will allow every person on the commission to hone in on their particular areas of expertise,” Roberts outlined.

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

Marty Redden – Acting secretary of the Alabama Office of Information Technology

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

J. Michael Hardin – Provost & vice president at Samford University

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

An Alabama CEO, also a commission member, said artificial intelligence is on the cusp of transforming every industry.

“Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing every industry, and it is incredibly important for us as a state to think strategically about what that means to our economy,” advised Joshua Jones, CEO of Birmingham-based StrategyWise, an AI and data science consulting firm.

He concluded, “I applaud Senator Waggoner and Secretary Canfield for leading Alabama to be one of the first states to really address these opportunities and changing dynamics systematically. It sends a message to the rest of the U.S. that Alabama is serious about investing in our future, and we’re growing our tech-based ecosystem. For companies that want to leverage all that AI has to offer, we’re going to be prepared with a trained workforce, accommodating public policy, and a strong tech infrastructure.”

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

55 mins ago

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling open to Tennessee River toll bridge — If that moves freight, freight companies, truckers ‘would just be thrilled to do it’

For decades, traffic headed west from Huntsville and other points toward the Shoals has relied upon the Captain William J. Hudson “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridges to cross the Tennessee River into Decatur. Once traffic crosses that bridge, it either heads south on U.S. Highway 31 toward Hartselle and Cullman, or it makes a hard-right 90-degree turn on to U.S. Highway Alternate 72 and heads toward Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield.

As the manufacturing base in northern Alabama expands, freight traffic is expected to increase at that intersection and make the turn west even more precarious for commuters and commercial traffic.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling discussed that spot and possible solutions for the future, which could include a tolling component.

512

“If you were to go now and sit in the Doubletree Hotel, which is where you’re talking about there where you make that turn to go to the Shoals, and just look at the amount of freight that comes in out of Memphis — Memphis is the distribution hub for America,” Bowling said on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And that freight that comes out of Memphis, straight down [U.S. Highway Alternate] 72, and then it makes its way across our bridge and goes various routes from there — into Huntsville, Madison, Athens, gets on [Interstate] 65, has different directions it can go from there. But whenever we start producing a thousand cars a day, we have 4,000 employees plus the tiered suppliers who will be there. The amount of freight that will come in to take care of that I believe is going to double.”

Bowling noted the situation at the Hyundai facility near Montgomery as a sign of what is to come and commended Gov. Kay Ivey for the commitment to widen the existing Interstate 565 that connects Decatur and Huntsville.

“We visited the Hyundai facility manufacturing a thousand cars a day just south of Montgomery — just-in-time deliveries: batteries, tires, things of that nature — they receive a truck a minute,” he continued. “You think widening [Interstate] 565 is important? Heck yeah, it’s important. We’re thankful Gov. Ivey is going to get that done for us in the Spring of 2020.”

The Decatur mayor said the completion of a nearby overpass for Alabama Highway 20 remains his current top priority.  Once that is completed, Bowling said exploring the possibility of an alternate route over the Tennessee River would be appropriate.

“We’re working on an overpass on [Alabama] Highway 20 where Apple Lane Farms is,” he said. “That’s Decatur, and that’s a build grant that we received for $14 million from the Federal Highway Department. We’re very thankful for that. A lot of people made that happen. Once that project gets going, then we’ll start working on the other. But we want to be sure we do everything to make sure that project gets going first.”

As for the possibility of using tolls to finance a new bridge, Bowling said he expected that those moving freight would be “thrilled” if it expedited transit and that if it would improve commuter traffic on existing structures, it could be a possibility.

“If that moves freight, I would believe that the freight companies, the truckers would just be thrilled to do it,” Bowling explained. “If we were to take the trucks off of the [U.S.] Highway 31 bridges, I believe that our commuter traffic — it would be a lot easier to make that commute. And so, we’ll see what we can do. We’ll come up with a traffic plan. We’ll do traffic counts. Things to prove it out.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

Patriot Flag to be displayed in Mobile on Thursday to honor fallen American heroes

The Patriot Flag will be displayed at the USS Alabama in Mobile on Thursday, September 19.

According to WALA Fox 10, the flag is currently on a national tour intended to honor and thank fallen American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom and safety.

Measuring 28 by 60.5 feet and weighing 50 pounds, the Patriot Flag’s nationwide journey began on the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 when the flag was displayed at all three locations that were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. The tour will end in 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

119

On Thursday, the flag will be unfurled at 3:00 p.m. at Battleship Memorial Park. Mobile Fire-Rescue firefighters will assist.

You can read more about the tour and see photos from previous stops here.

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

3 hours ago

Byrne applauds Trump administration for rescinding WOTUS rule; Says Mobile Baykeeper ‘absolutely wrong’ about environmental threat

Last week, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which broadened the scope of “waters” protected by the Clean Water Act.

The rule faced numerous legal challenges and was decried by farmers as an overreach.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2020, applauded the Trump administration’s decision.

267

“There was a power grab by the Obama administration,” Byrne said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They wanted to take the traditional understanding about what is the water under the Clean Water Act that the EPA can regulate it and expand it to the point where if a farmer has two or three inches of standing water in their fields, all of a sudden the EPA tells them they can or can’t plant. That’s nonsense.”

“We actually had some legislation previously on it, but the Trump administration has just rescinded that rule,” he continued. “So we have gone back to a more common-sense understanding. I mean, a small pond in your yard is not something that should be regulated by the EPA. Some standing water in a big field is not something that should be regulated by the EPA.”

Byrne cited an AL(dot)com story quoting Mobile Baykeeper’s Casi Callaway decrying the move by the Trump administration and warning the impact that revoking the rule could have on the environment.

“Casi is a friend, but she is absolutely wrong about that,” Byrne remarked. “This is just a common-sense change going back to the way it has been for decades. It has worked fine for decades. I really appreciate the Trump administration making this change. And I understand why farmers and other people in other rural parts of Alabama felt so strongly about it.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

Celebrate the Seventh Amendment at Jefferson County Courthouse

The Alabama Association of Justice and their members invite all courthouse employees and judicial staff to celebrate 230 years of the Seventh Amendment guaranteeing the right to a civil jury trial.  Join the fun: Monday, September 23, 10:00 am to 10:30 am at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N #251, Birmingham, AL.  For more information contact jsmith@alabamajustice.org.

1