HOOVER — Over the past few days, the contest for the 2020 Republican senatorial nomination in Alabama has weathered a mild controversy.
On Saturday during a speech to the Shoals Republican Club, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a U.S. Senate candidate, had some criticism of President Donald Trump for a seeming lack of progress regarding improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and veterans’ health care.
The comments led to one of Tuberville’s opponents, State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), calling out Tuberville.
During a town hall campaign event held at Hoover Tactical, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Wednesday was asked to offer his thoughts on his opponent’s critique of the Trump and the VA.
“No, I don’t,” Byrne replied when asked if he agreed with Tuberville. “So, President Trump inherited a terrible problem from President Obama and our VA system. And you know, a lot of veterans were supportive of President Trump. So I think President Trump made it a priority. But in order to fix it, we had to fix some of the laws because you can only go so far when the law is limiting you. In the first two years of the Trump administration, the Congress and Trump worked together. We passed four different laws, one of which was this law that allowed to fire basically bad people that were part of the swamp at the VA. But there were several others that allowed the Trump appointees to run the VA to actually increase the veterans’ access to their benefits and particularly their health care.”
“I’ve been focused on that,” he continued. “We had a problem in Montgomery, as you know. We had a problem in my district in Southwest Alabama. We just opened in April a VA outpatient clinic in West Mobile County that the VA had authorized over 10 years and had the money and would not build it. But when President Trump came into office, we got that thing unstuck, and now it is not only built, it is open.”
The Baldwin County Republican applauded Trump’s progress on the VA and said he expected more improvement through the end of the Trump presidency.
“So, I would say that President Trump has done a lot to help veterans,” Byrne added. “The veterans I interact [with] all over the state tell me that. We’re not in the promised land yet. This is a big problem. It’s going to take us a while to fix. But I am very grateful to President Trump for his leadership on this issue. I’m proud of the fact that I been able to vote with him and do other things to help him get that done like the outpatient clinic in Mobile. I think we’re going to have other opportunities over the next five years in his next term and the rest of this term in office to continue to fix the VA system.”