12 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

3 hours ago

Fmr Gov. Don Siegelman appears to be using outrage over George Floyd to sell new book

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to sell his new book is using robocalls that appear to reference the current unrest over George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

On Thursday afternoon, a Yellowhammer News reporter received a robocall from 1 (800) 890-5875, a number listed as “Robocaller” by the phone protection company NoMoRobo. The voiceover of the robocall was apparently recorded by Siegelman himself.

The message began, “Don Siegelman, your governor here. We’ve got to protect people from the abuse of power by police, prosecutors, or presidents.”

“My new book, Stealing our Democracy, is a wakeup call to action. It’s also number one among new releases on amazon.com,” the message added.

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An individual from the Wiregrass told Yellowhammer News that she also received the voicemail.

In addition to that, at least one Twitter user appeared to have received the robocall.

Siegelman was convicted on June 29, 2006, of conspiracy, bribery and fraud.

The former Alabama Democratic governor appeared to lump in his claimed unjust treatment by the authorities with the death of George Floyd.

Listen:

Siegelman is currently promoting his new book “Stealing Our Democracy.”

Yellowhammer News’ request for comment from Siegelman was not immediately returned. A message was left on his personal cell phone number.

He claimed the book is “#1 among new releases on amazon.com”

Yellowhammer News examined the new releases chart on Amazon.com, which revealed that Siegelman’s book is not in the top 100 best selling new releases.

However, the book is #1 in the sub-subcategory “Urban, State & Local Government Law.”

Urban, State & Local Government Law is one of 12 sub-subcategories of the “Administrative Law” subcategory.

The “Administrative Law” subcategory is one of 23 subcategories under the category “Law.”

“Law” is one of 36 categories into which Amazon divides the kinds new-release books that it sells.

As a matter of record, the book is only available for pre-order. It has not been released to the public yet.

The former governor’s book claims that his downfall and conviction of felony bribery were part of a politically motivated prosecution coordinated by Karl Rove.

His book will be released to the public on June 16.

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

3 hours ago

Two charged with capital murder in slaying of Moody PD officer

Two suspects have been charged with capital murder in the case of slain Moody Police Department officer Stephen Williams.

The two suspects are 27-year-old male Tapero Corlene Johnson and 28-year-old female Marquisha Anissa Tyson. Both are from Birmingham and will be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

At a press conference Friday, St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray described said the investigation is still continuing and described it as “complex and intense.”

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Williams was posthumously promoted to lieutenant at the press conference on Thursday by Moody Police Chief Thomas Hunt.

Hunt said Williams had remarked at times that he would like to achieve the rank of lieutenant someday, and now he will forever be known as Lt. Stephen Williams.

The District Attorney for St. Clair County said the two suspects had been in police custody since the shooting on Tuesday night.

Investigators say they have determined that Johnson and Tyson fired weapons at Williams who was responding to a disturbance at a Super 8 Motel.

A GoFundMe page to help Williams’ family has been raising money in recent days.

Williams served the public as a police officer for 23 years before being killed in the line of duty this week.

Governor Kay Ivey commented on the incident earlier in the week, saying Williams “died a hero.”

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

4 hours ago

Data shows Alabama nursing homes performing better than national average for COVID-19 cases, deaths

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday released facility-specific COVID-19 data for nursing homes across the United States, and an analysis of the data shows Alabama fairing better than the national average.

The data was collected on a mandatory basis by the CDC and currently covers through the week ending on May 31.

Nationwide, the average number of confirmed coronavirus cases per 1,000 residents in nursing homes was 91.2, while the average number of deaths from the disease per 1,000 residents was 30.2.

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In Alabama, both of those numbers were significantly lower than the national average, at 64.9 and 20.9, respectively.

Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer issued a statement on the data’s release.

“According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Alabama nursing homes report fewer cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 residents and fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 1,000 residents than the national average,” he confirmed.

“Because we are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, we expect the number of COVID-19 cases to rise as more tests are administered and the data is added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) system. The Alabama Nursing Home Association hopes this data will be used to prioritize resources for skilled nursing facilities,” Farmer advised.

“Alabama nursing homes have been transparent from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued. “Our members have reported cases to their local county health department and the Alabama Department of Public Health from the start. In May, we began reporting cases to the CDC. Facilities also inform residents and their family representatives and employees of cases in their buildings. We are following the guidelines set forth by the multiple state and federal agencies that regulate our sector. No other business or health care provider reports COVID-19 cases to more government entities and people than nursing homes.”

Nationwide, nursing homes reported 95,515 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 31,782 deaths through May 31. Nursing homes in Alabama reported 1,000 confirmed cases and 335 deaths.

Moving forward, CMS will release the next round of data on June 18. After that date, new data should be released weekly.

“The Alabama Nursing Home Association and its members will continue to work with local, state and federal leaders to address the needs of nursing home residents and employees,” Farmer concluded.

The CMS data can be viewed here.

As of Friday at 2:00 p.m., the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 19,073 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 672 deaths.

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

5 hours ago

NFIB survey of Alabama business owners shows ongoing COVID-19 related fears

A new study from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) showed that an overwhelming majority of proprietors are nervous about several aspects of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their business.

Yellowhammer News reported in the first week of May that 70% of the NFIB’s membership across the United States was concerned about individuals filing frivolous lawsuits claiming a business had caused them to catch COVID-19.

A poll from the Alabama division of NFIB this week shows that 69% of businesses in the Yellowhammer State remain nervous about lawsuits, and roughly equal amounts are worried whether customers might come back and that it may prove difficult to comply with ongoing regulations.

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The top results of the survey as follows:

  • 70% of owners say they’re very or moderately concerned about getting customers back.
  • 69% are concerned about managing the health and safety of their customers; 66% are concerned about managing the health and safety of employees.
  • 69% are concerned with having to comply with new regulations related to the coronavirus.
  • 68% are concerned about finding an adequate supply of supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

NFIB state director Rosemary Elebash told Yellowhammer News Friday that the survey was administered to businesses in every county and every city with a significant population.

“It wasn’t just NFIB members,” Elebash added about the survey, saying the group had worked with a number of trade associations to increase the amount of responses.

The NFIB also continues to strongly support Senator Arthur Orr’s (R-Decatur) bill to grant civil immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits to businesses in Alabama.

Elebash noted in a release that Orr’s bill would be “one of NFIB’s top priorities” if Governor Kay Ivey calls a special session later in the year.

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

5 hours ago

Tuberville: Nationwide unrest linked to ‘education and jobs’

Many argue there is much more to the civil unrest across the nation than the lone incident in Minneapolis involving the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the police department. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville indicated he agrees with that.

During an appearance on Huntsville WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said based on his interactions with people on the campaign trail, there is a longing to get back to a sense of normalcy in the wake of the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I speak to eight to ten places a day — groups are worried, obviously. I think they’re getting a little more confident they can go out and be around other people,” he said. “And we’re just hoping we can just put this pandemic, and it is a problem, it is serious — again, you’ve got to protect yourself. It’s not going away. It is still here, especially if you’re having health problems and those things. That will go away — but then all of a sudden we get hit with this civil unrest, and again — we’re all Americans. We’re all in this together. We’ve got to find a solution.”

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Tuberville said he is asked for his thoughts by voters while on the trail, to which he said he points to “education and jobs,” and the erosion of the American middle class.

“I had a group ask me today, ‘Coach, what do you think the problem is?’ Education and jobs. We don’t have a middle class anymore,” Tuberville stated. “There are people out there that don’t have the opportunity to advance in this country like they want to. This is not a black issue. This is not a white issue. This is an American issue. We shipped our jobs to China, bottom line. We’re finding out more and more about that every day, and we’ve got to give the opportunity for young men and women to have a chance to grow in this country, and give them a fair chance. Unfortunately, our middle class has dissipated. We have more drugs in this country, and a lot of people take other options. We got to understand — we’re all in this together, 340 million people. We’re either going to make it together or not make together.”

@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 Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.