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The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

56 mins ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

(Facebook)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent “[erroneous]” Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”

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It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

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

4 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

(ALFA Farmers/Twitter)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

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

4 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

(YHN, Manufacture Alabama)

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

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

1 day ago

Jones backs challenge resulting in increased DNC ‘supervision’ of Alabama Democratic Party

(D. Jones/Twitter, AlabamaTV/YouTube)

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) credentials committee voted to call for new elections for chair and vice chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

According to The Associated Press, the resolution approved by the committee would have the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) hold new elections for the top two spots within 90 days.

The full DNC voting body is expected to approve the recommendation, which would also see the national Democratic Party oversee the re-do elections in Alabama.

The action arose after challenges were filed contesting this past summer’s election of Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice Chairman Randy Kelley.

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Allegations have been made that the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) run by the state party’s vice chair for minority affairs, Joe Reed, has stacked the composition of the SDEC so as to control the outcome of the party’s internal elections.

Worley said last year that “there could be a tiny bit of racism” behind the challenges, which were backed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). Jones helped lead the charge for the candidate running against Worley in the summer and spoke against her at the DNC credentials committee meeting Thursday.

Jones and other critics of Worley and Reed want less African Americans on the state party’s executive committee.

Worley will remain chair until the re-election is held, however, that decision was barely approved by the credentials committee via a 12-11 vote on an amendment to the main resolution.

Worley said that she disagrees with the decision to hold the re-election. However, she looks “forward to the opportunity to lay any concerns to rest.”

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

1 day ago

Byrne: ‘Anti-semitic’ Dem Rep. Omar ‘should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’

(B. Byrne/Facebook, Omar.House.Gov)

President Donald Trump is not the only one who thinks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) should face consequences for recent anti-semitic comments and other “absurd” behavior.

Now, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) is joining in on the call for Omar to face real consequences for her actions.

Omar came under “justified criticism” over the weekend after a tweet that has widely been condemned as anti-semitic, including by members of her own party. Trump called on the freshman congresswoman to resign, and Vice President Mike Pence called her remarks “a disgrace.”

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Omar received further criticism for claiming to “unequivocally apologize” while continuing to equivocate in the same statement, with her second paragraph beginning, “At the same time…”

To make matters worse, Omar used her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday to berate a Jewish-American, well-respected diplomat.

Byrne said he is “outraged” by Omar’s “absurd comments.”

“I am outraged by the continued absurd comments from Rep. Omar, as I think most Alabamians are,” Byrne told Yellowhammer News. “Frankly, they show just how radical the Democrat Party has become.”

He concluded, “Given her anti-semitic views, she most certainly should not be allowed to continue serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

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

1 day ago

Mo Brooks: Dems prioritizing illegal immigrants ‘the worst betrayal of America in history,’ ‘9/11 deaths pale in comparison’

(Rep. Brooks/YouTube)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) Thursday delivered a powerful speech on the U.S. House floor urgently calling on President Donald Trump to “declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall and protect and save American lives.”

The congressman from north Alabama explained that over 2,000 illegal immigrants were arrested for homicides on American soil the last fiscal year alone. Additionally, Brooks said, “[O]ver 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels.”

As critical a threat as Brooks views the issue of border security, he lamented that Congress is not currently in a position to solve it.

“[A]n extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance,” he summarized.

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He called “Socialist Democrats” elevating illegal immigrants over American citizens “the worst betrayal of America in history.”

“Inasmuch as socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers,” Brooks stated.

He then outlined the president’s legal authority to order the military to assist in this “fight,” warning that “a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border.”

Brooks added, “While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.”

Full text of Brooks’ speech as follows:

Mr. Speaker, in Fiscal Year 2018, more than 2,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by federal agents for homicides committed on American soil.

In addition, over 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels!

Stronger border security, which must include wall construction, will save thousands of American lives every year.

Unfortunately, in the worst betrayal of America in history, Socialist Democrats, motivated by a lust for political power, selfishly elevate illegal aliens over American citizens because illegal alien families overwhelming rely on welfare, thus making them highly reliable Democrat voters who elect Socialist Democrat politicians by diluting the votes of American citizens.

Inasmuch as Socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths, and America’s porous southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers.

For example, Title 10, Section 284 of the United States Code empowers presidents to order America’s military to assist federal drug and law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug and transnational organized crime.

Pursuant to this law, the president may deploy active military and National Guard troops to:

• Establish and operate bases of operations;
• Detect and monitor surface traffic in Mexico and in the United States within 25 miles of the southern border;
• Construct roads, fences, barriers and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across the southern border; and
• Use aerial and ground reconnaissance.

For emphasis, this federal law empowers President Trump to order America’s military to construct walls and barriers to block drug smuggling corridors, with the side benefit of stopping illegal aliens.

Mr. Speaker, another example of existing presidential authority is the power to declare a national emergency and divert Congressionally appropriated money to border security and wall construction.

America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan based on 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. In response, America spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border.

For emphasis, a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border! That is a minimum of 15,000 dead Americans each year!

That death rate easily justifies a presidential declaration of a national emergency. In fact, not one of the 58 national emergencies declared by a president since 1979 is supported by a worse death rate or threat to America and American lives!

Mr. Speaker, an extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance.

As such, I urge President Trump, as America’s commander in chief, to invoke Title 10, United States Code Section 284, to declare a national emergency, and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our southern border, build the wall, and protect and save American lives!

America’s military protects the borders of, and lives in, South Korea, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Europe, and many other countries.

America, and Americans, deserve no less protection!

Update:

After Brooks’ speech, the White House on Thursday afternoon announced that Trump will indeed declare a national emergency and “take other executive action” to help secure the border. The president also will sign the border security and funding deal negotiated largely by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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

2 days ago

Roby: ‘I call born-alive abortion what it is: Infanticide’

(Martha Roby/Facebook)

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) Thursday spoke on the House floor to voice her staunch opposition to the recent pro-abortion efforts in New York and Virginia and to express her unwavering support for the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” a bill she is cosponsoring to protect infants who are born alive during failed abortion procedures.

Roby emphasized that she was stunned to hear boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions. She also forcefully denounced the comments recently made by Virginia’s Democrat governor, calling them a “horrific defense of born-alive abortions.”

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“I call ‘born-alive abortion’ what it is: Infanticide. No matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given,” Roby said in a statement.

She added, “I cannot express how strongly I support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures. I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it, but every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.”

The full text of Roby’s remarks, as prepared, follows:

Good evening. I’d first like to thank you, Congresswoman Walorski, for leading this Special-Order tonight. This topic is critically important, especially in light of the heartbreaking news that has come out of New York and Virginia in recent weeks.

Truly, I was stunned to hear the boisterous cheering upon the New York state legislature’s passage of a bill that would significantly loosen restrictions on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Democratic Governor recently threw his support behind similar legislation and made comments that served as a horrific defense of born-alive abortions. For the purpose of tonight’s discussion, I’ll call “born-alive abortion” what it is: Infanticide.

Here in Congress, part of our job is to debate the issues. Our dialogue surrounding legislation is a critically important component of the democratic process in this country. Still, no matter how our stances on abortion might vary, I hope we can all agree that if an abortion fails and a child is born alive, the child must be given the same medical care that any other living, breathing infant would otherwise be given.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure the people I represent in Alabama that I remain unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and am opposed to abortion at any stage. I understand that not everyone shares my views, but still, I am severely disturbed that this country now requires written legal provisions to protect living babies.

But sadly, in the aftermath of the news coming out of New York and Virginia, it is clear that this step is immediately necessary.

That’s why I am proud that House Republicans have wasted no time in acting. I especially appreciate my colleagues Mr. Scalise and Mrs. Wagner who have been working tirelessly to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill I cosponsor that would protect babies who are born alive during botched abortion procedures.

I cannot express how strongly I support this measure, and I cannot fathom how any person would oppose it. Every single member of Congress should be forced to vote either for or against infanticide. The American people deserve to know where each of us stands on this humanitarian issue.

Thank you.

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

2 days ago

Merrill in Capitol Hill testimony: Alabama absentee voting fraud happens ‘frequently,’ prosecutors letting it slide

(House Homeland Security Committee/YouTube)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill testified in front of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday, warning against “federal overreach” and advising that absentee voting fraud occurs in the state “frequently” but is seldom prosecuted in local jurisdictions.

Merrill was invited by committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (AL-3) to lend his expertise on an election security panel and advise on the merits of H.R 1. This legislation championed by the leftwing of the national Democratic Party, entitled the “For the People Act,” proposes a massive overhaul of the federal election and campaign finance systems. H.R. 1 has the support of Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) in the Yellowhammer State.

In his opening statement, Merrill warned that the Democrat-backed legislation is an attempt at “federal overreach” on the rights of states and localities to administer their own elections.

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“[T]here are some serious concerns and issues with H.R. 1 in our opinion,” he cautioned.

Merrill outlined, “Number one: significant federal overreach has been indicated through the introduction of this legislation. And it appears to provide certain things that need to be done but the lack of resources in order to be able to do those effectively. There’s strictly underfunded or unfunded mandates. Number two: there are many prescriptive requirements that have been indicated that states that would accept these funds would face significant difficulty in enacting those new programs without the resources necessary to do that… Number three: the amount of time that the states have to meet the requirements is not something that is going to be able to be met…”

He added that H.R. 1, if it was to pass against all odds, would not be able to be adhered to on the timeline mandated by the legislation because the federal government and most state agencies across the nation “move at the speed of government.”

In his first question during this panel hearing, Rogers asked Merrill if there is anything in H.R. 1 that he would find helpful to securing elections in Alabama.

“No, congressman,” Merrill answered.

The Alabama secretary of state recommended that Congress alter the bill to allocate election security funding to the states that included guidelines but not mandates so states and localities could decide how to best utilize their resources in their unique situations.

Responding to a later question by a Democrat on the committee, Merrill warned that election laws can only help so much when local prosecutors are not willing to charge violators.

Merrill said that since he became secretary of state four years and 25 days ago, 874 unique instances of alleged voter fraud have been reported to his office.

Out of the 870 of these cases that have been investigated fully already, six have resulted in convictions, with three elections being overturned, according to Merrill. However, this does not mean that only six of 870 cases were found to have violated the law.

“I think it’s important to know that we have a number of prosecutors in our state that are not really interested in advancing investigations into voter fraud because they think the penalties are too stiff,” he advised.

In a follow-up, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) asked Merrill if he was suggesting that there has been “much more voter fraud” in Alabama than has been prosecuted.

“Yes, sir,” the secretary of state responded. “We have some – I actually have two instances that I can share with you just briefly: one, 119 absentee ballot applications were mailed to one location and nobody lives in that home. In another jurisdiction, 109 absentee ballot applications were mailed to the mayoral candidate’s mother’s home. And neither one of those have been prosecuted yet.”

Cleaver asked, “Were there many more such cases?”

“Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir, we have them frequently,” Merrill emphasized. “And they’re not just related to certain parts of our state, either.”

He added, “The main instances we see are in the area of absentee balloting, not in walk-up, in-person voting.”

Watch:

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

3 days ago

Trump praises ‘hard working’ Shelby over border security deal

(Sen. R. Shelby/Twitter)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is being praised by President Donald Trump for his leadership in securing an “agreement in principle” between Congressional Republicans and Democrats on a border security and government funding package.

The president took to Twitter Tuesday evening to applaud Shelby as “hard working.”

Shelby, as the vice-chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with reaching a border security compromise and through his historic service as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, played a vital role in ending the stalemate and possibly avoiding another partial government shutdown.

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Trump also took time to highlight that the deal was made knowing that “lots of money from other sources” will supplement the money for a border wall – or physical “barrier” – appropriated by Congress.

Additionally, the overall amount of funding approved for border security measures in general – including increased staffing, monitoring and technology upgrades – was impressive.

“Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security,” Trump emphasized.

Trump has hinted at declaring a national emergency over border security previously, and he could still do so after the deal is passed by Congress in order to use emergency funds to supplement the amount of money available to build the wall on the nation’s southern border.

The president’s comments on Twitter came shortly after he and Shelby spoke on the phone Tuesday.

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

4 days ago

Shelby leads negotiators to reach agreement ‘in principle’ to avert another government shutdown

(R. Shelby/Facebook)

On Monday evening, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced that the bicameral conference committee of legislative leaders tasked with reaching an agreement on border security and funding a quarter of the federal government has “reached an agreement in principle.”

Shelby, who serves as vice-chair of the conference committee, helped spearhead what The Hill described as “a last-ditch effort to get a deal.”

“We’ve had a good evening,” the senior senator from Alabama told reporters on Capitol Hill.

He explained, “We’re talking about reaching an agreement on all of it.”

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This came after Shelby appeared on Fox News Sunday, announcing that negotiations had “stalled” over Democrats wanting to cap the number of illegal immigrants ICE could detain, rather than “catch and release.”

The government is set to partially shut down again Friday at midnight. Shelby had circled Monday as a deadline for agreeing to a deal because Congressional rules eat up time as legislation makes its way through both chambers before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk.

Details of the agreement in principle have yet to be announced.

When asked if the White House was on board with the agreement, Shelby reportedly said, “We think so. We hope so.”

Update, 9:30 p.m.:

According to Politico, Shelby advised, “The White House has been consulted all along,” noting that he has been given “latitude” to negotiate on behalf of the Trump administration.

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

5 days ago

Shelby: Dems ‘want to cap the number of dangerous criminals that ICE can detain’

(Sen. Shelby/YouTube)

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) updated the American people on the ongoing government funding and border security negotiations, lamenting that Democrats “want to cap the number of dangerous criminals that ICE can detain, putting the safety of the American [people] in jeopardy.”

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, the senior senator from Alabama discussed the state of negotiations, with a quickly approaching deadline of Friday threatening another partial government shutdown if the bicameral conference committee of legislative leaders cannot reach a compromise that President Donald Trump is also willing to sign off on.

Shelby, the vice chair of the committee, has been leading the negotiating charge as a voice of reason. He was joined on the popular Fox News program by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who is considered a relatively moderate Democrat from a red state.

Shelby began his appearance by announcing that negotiations are once again at an impasse.

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“[T]alks have stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning, because time’s ticking away,” he said. “But we’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE – that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S., and they want a cap on them. We don’t want a cap on that.”

Shelby continued to say that they have also not reached an agreement on the number of dollars to go specifically towards a physical barrier – or wall – on the southern border. This component is considered of major importance in the negotiations, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) vowing not to give Trump any money for his signature campaign promise.

“We’re working, and we’re hoping we can get there,” Shelby added of trying to reach a compromise on the wall funding. “We’ve got to get fluid again, we’ve got to start movement.”

This came after Shelby met with Trump in the White House Thursday. Immediately following this “positive” meeting, Shelby told reporters that the period between then and Monday was especially crucial to reaching a deal in time.

“The president urged me to get to yes,” he said at the time.

However, things have hit a snag, as Shelby explained to Wallace. The senator did emphasize to the Fox News host that Trump was indeed being “very reasonable” in being flexible on the dollar amount he originally wanted for the wall.

“Our talks with the president are confidential, but I came out of the meeting thinking we could make a deal with the Democrats if they’re willing to meet us halfway,” Shelby outlined. “Secondly, the president basically in the conversation gave us some latitude to talk and that’s what we’re trying to do to get to yes today.”

Tester then said that negotiations have high and low points, and the current stall was to be expected at some time in the process. He also praised Shelby’s leadership and efforts to bring the two sides together for the betterment of the American people.

“Chairman Shelby is correct,” Tester added. “Time is of the essence. We need to move forward. We need to keep our eyes on this.”

However, when asked, Tester would not answer why Democrats want to cap the number of detention beds ICE can utilize.

Responding to the host’s next question, Shelby then confirmed that Monday was being viewed as a pretty firm deadline by negotiation leaders, with the government set to partially shut down again Friday at midnight.

“Chris, that is a deadline,” he said of Monday. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there. I’m hoping we’ll get there.”

Shelby explained that a deal needs to be reached with time to spare for legislative machinations and voting before Friday, as both the Senate and House have rules in place that can take days to pass bills.

While he acknowledged that there are options for Trump and for Congress if they cannot reach a deal in the necessary amount of time, Shelby stressed that these options are less desirable.

“[S]hort of a deal, they’re not good options,” he summarized.

Shelby concluded the interview by reinforcing the urgency of the negotiations.

“I don’t think [Trump] is misleading or exaggerating,” the senator emphasized. “We’ve got real problems along our border. We’ve got millions of illegal immigrants in this country. We’ve had a lot of drug dealers, gangs and everything come across that border. He’s not exaggerating it. We’ve got to secure the border. We’ve made progress, but we can do better than this. I think we owe it to the American people.”

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

5 days ago

Doug Jones: ‘Nobody wants’ America to become socialist

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) believes that “nobody wants” America to become socialist, despite the stark warning in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address last week.

“Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump said. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

According to The Hill, Jones did stand up to applaud at one point during the president’s remarks on rejecting socialism. In an interview with the publication, the junior senator from Alabama explained his thoughts on what Trump said.

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“I think it’s true. It’s a true statement, it’s not going to happen. It’s that simple, nobody wants it to happen,” Jones advised on Trump’s vow that America will never become socialist.

The senator also dismissed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) proposal to marginally tax the nation’s highest income earners at 70 percent.

“There’s a lot of talk about things like that. I think we need to look at practical issues when it comes to tax and things like that and I’m not sure how practical that is,” Jones opined.

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

5 days ago

Cliff Sims rips ‘insubordinate’ ‘sociopaths’ on White House staff leaking against Trump

(Official White House Photo)

Alabama native Cliff Sims said that the continuing leaks of President Donald Trump’s private schedule are “a direct shot” at the president, adding that the “insubordinate” “sociopaths” on the White House staff intentionally undermining Trump’s administration from the inside should resign.

In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter, Sims discussed why Trump’s staff is so “leaky” and explained that the nature of the leaks have evolved over time.

He also confirmed that the administration is conducting an internal probe into the leaks. Sims served Trump as the White House’s director of message strategy and a special assistant to the president until his resignation in May 2018.

“[I]’ve talked to some people in [the White House] about this, and I do think that it is real. There’s definitely a hunt going on for whoever this individual is. The IT department, as you referenced, is certainly involved,” Sims told the host.

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He then advised that he believes it is “a real long-shot” that the leaker will actually be caught through this internal probe.

“But the thing that strikes me about it is just the sheer effort that went into this,” Sims added. “I received these schedules every morning when I worked in the White House, and to leak three months of them – it’s not like there’s a document all packaged up and ready for you to just show to somebody. You would have to go back through weeks and weeks and weeks of emails to get these [and] obviously you can’t just email them out, so you kind of speculate on how they would even get those out – take pictures of their screen or whatever it may be.”

Stelter then asked if the administration was “less leaky” now than at the beginning of the Trump presidency.

“You know, that’s a great question. I think the leaks are different now,” Sims responded. “I think there was perhaps a little bit more of what I would call staff-on-staff violence back then.”

“But a leak like this, I mean I have to sit back, Brian, and ask myself, ‘Who are these sociopaths working in the White House?'” Sims said.

He continued, “I think about the psychology behind leaks like this, and often I think they are a direct reflection of the level of respect that an individual at the staff level has for whoever their superior is… This one seems to be a direct shot at the President of the United States. That is a level of insubordination that I think is rarely seen in corporate America, rarely seen in government and certainly rarely seen at this level.”

Shortly after Sims’ interview on CNN, Trump took to Twitter to express his own thoughts on the leaks of his schedule.

Hours later, Axios reported on new leaked schedules they just received – this time covering as recently as last week. The fresh leak happened as the White House internal leak probe is reportedly in full swing.

Sims is the founder and former CEO of Yellowhammer Multimedia. He sold the company after signing on to serve on the Trump campaign in 2016 and then in the White House.

Sims’ book on his 500 days serving on the president’s staff, Team of Vipers, is a New York Times and Amazon bestseller.

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

6 days ago

‘Where is Leigh Corfman?’: Roy Moore says accuser avoiding giving ‘her testimony under oath’

(Photo: YouTube)

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is now alleging that Leigh Corfman is ducking being “examined under oath” because she wants him to provide her information she could use to corroborate her own claims first.

During Moore’s failed campaign against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2017, Corfman accused Moore of sexually assaulting her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old prosecutor in Etowah County. Moore has denied the allegations.

Corfman filed a defamation suit against him after she made the accusations, and Moore later filed a counterclaim for defamation of his own.

In the course of these court proceedings, Moore’s legal defense fund in a press release Friday said that he has “appeared for an entire day to give sworn testimony under extensive examination by Corfman‘s attorneys while Corfman has successfully avoided numerous motions to compel her testimony.”

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The release further explained that these alleged delay tactics are occurring as Coffman’s attorneys try to obtain information from Moore “which she will use to substantiate her false and malicious claims.”

Per the release, Coffman’s attorneys “now refuse to allow their client to be examined under oath until Judge Moore answers specific questions regarding his home, car, and property in 1979.”

“Judge Moore by and through his attorney, Mrs. Melissa Isaak, has now filed a Motion to Dismiss Corfman’s frivolous lawsuit, for simply denying her false claims,” the release concluded. “Not only does Judge Moore have a right to deny Corfman’s claims, he also has a right to confront her in court. Where is Leigh Corfman? It’s been a year!”

Full release as follows:

“Where is Leigh Corfman?”

The case of Corfman v Moore in Montgomery [C]ounty has been pending for over a year and Leigh Corfman has yet to appear before a court reporter to give her testimony under oath. On the other hand, Judge Roy Moore appeared for an entire day to give sworn testimony under extensive examination by Corfman‘s attorneys while Corfman has successfully avoided numerous motions to compel her testimony[.]

Corfman’s attorneys from New York, San Francisco, Washington DC and Birmingham who represent Corfman pro bono (for free) now refuse to allow their client to be examined under oath until Judge Moore answers specific questions regarding his home, car, and property in 1979.

Shortly after Corfman‘s story was printed by the Washington Post she appeared on several national television and media outlets. Before her appearances Corfman was “coached “for 6 to 8 hours by her present attorney from New York on how to respond to the media. But now in court documents she cannot recall whether or not Judge Moore lived in a mobile home or a house in 1979, whether he had a carport or a garage, or any specifics concerning his property.

Judge Moore has refused to give Corfman facts which she will use to substantiate her false and malicious claims.
Every person has an absolute right to defend his or her character and reputation from false and slanderous attacks. In a strange twist of logic Judge Moore has now been sued for defamation for simply denying Corfman’s false and malicious accusations[.]

Judge Moore by and through his attorney, Mrs. Melissa Isaak, has now filed a Motion to Dismiss Corfman’s frivolous lawsuit, for simply denying her false claims.

Not only does Judge Moore have a right to deny Corfman’s claims, he also has a right to confront her in court.

Where is Leigh Corfman? It’s been a year!

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘I don’t know how’ you can compare Virginia Democrat, Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations

1 week ago

Doug Jones: ‘I don’t know how’ you can compare Virginia Democrat, Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations

(Fox Business/YouTube)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said he does not believe you can accurately compare the sexual assault allegations still surfacing against Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax with those made against Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process in the fall.

Fairfax this week was initially accused of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Friday, a second woman came forward accusing him of raping her in 2000.

The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday “asked if the same standard should be applied to Fairfax, a Democrat, as it was applied to Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.”

However, Jones and other Democrats who voted against Kavanaugh and cited the allegations against him in the process do not seem as outraged over the accusations against Fairfax.

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“[T]he five Democratic senators asked, who all opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation due to the allegations, all dodged the question or acted like they had not heard about it, despite the fact it has been major national news for nearly a week,” the publication reported.

Alabama’s junior senator directly said he could not draw a comparison between the respective allegations.

“I don’t know how you can apply to somebody that’s in office now with somebody who is trying to get a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Jones said.

He would not say what should happen in Fairfax’s situation.

Jones added, “What I said though is consistent that accusers like that need to be heard, they need to be listened to, and those grievances need to be aired and something needs to be acted on in one way or another. That’s it.”

The allegations against Fairfax came shortly after the state’s governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, became embroiled in his blackface scandal. Fairfax would be first in line to succeed Northam if he resigns.

Subsequently, the Democrat attorney general of Virginia has also been found to have worn blackface in the past. He is in the line of succession immediately following Fairfax.

In an interview with USA Today, Jones admitted that there was a “crisis” in Virginia.

“It’s a tough situation, especially for a Democratic Party that prides itself in being one of inclusion,” Alabama’s junior senator lamented.

If the three top Democrats in Virginia resign, the governorship would go to the speaker of the House of Delegates – a Republican.

RELATED: Doug Jones, Terri Sewell refuse to condemn Keith Ellison

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

1 week ago

John Merrill to testify at congressional hearing on ‘what Alabama has been doing to keep its elections secure’

(John Merrill/Twitter)

House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (AL-3) announced Friday that Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill will testify at the committee’s hearing regarding election security on Tuesday.

Rogers said in a statement that Merrill will be testifying “so that committee members can hear about what Alabama has been doing to keep its elections secure and to engage in a proactive discussion about how the federal government can help states keep their elections safe in the future.”

“Republicans and Democrats agree: election security is essential to our democracy,” Rogers advised. “But let’s not forget, the Constitution leaves the primary responsibility of administering elections to the states.”

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Merrill is scheduled to be on the second of two panels during the committee proceedings. The first panel begins at 9:30 a.m. EST Tuesday.

The Homeland Security Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees critical infrastructure – including elections infrastructure. DHS provides threat information, fosters coordination between the election community and DHS officials and, if requested, cybersecurity assistance and sensors to detect malicious activity.

The hearing will be broadcast live online here.

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

1 week ago

Doug Jones to support Trump AG nominee ‘to ensure that special counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded’

(Fox News/YouTube, Wikicommons)

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) plans to vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, citing Barr’s commitment to protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In a statement Thursday, Jones announced his intentions and explained his reasoning. This came shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on party lines 12-10 to advance Barr’s nomination to the full chamber.

Jones said, “In my own conversation with Mr. Barr, he reiterated that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law. He assured me that he would tolerate no level of interference with the [Mueller] investigation and reaffirmed unequivocally his commitment to the Justice Department’s independence.”

The junior senator from Alabama further cited ensuring “that special Counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded” as a continued priority for him moving forward.

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Jones’ full statement as follows:

I have spent nearly two months examining Mr. Barr’s record. I watched his hearings last month, during which he answered difficult but important questions from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I have listened to and considered the concerns of my constituents and leaders in the justice community. I have also spoken personally with Mr. Barr and asked him some tough questions of my own, informed by my own experience as a U.S. Attorney. After thorough consideration, I have concluded that Mr. Barr is qualified for the position of Attorney General and his record strongly suggests he will exercise independent judgment and uphold the best interests of the Department of Justice. Should the Judiciary Committee move forward with his nomination, I will vote to confirm Mr. Barr as Attorney General of the United States.

As a former U.S. Attorney, I believe the most important responsibility of an Attorney General is to uphold the rule of law and to do so with a commitment to transparency. While we often talk about the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us under the United States Constitution, the rule of law is what ensures those rights and freedoms are protected. We live in deeply divided times, but it is in precisely this kind of environment that this principle is so important. In addition, I believe that Mr. Barr shares my commitment to the institutional independence of the Department of Justice and that he will bring stabilizing leadership that is badly needed.

Many have expressed concerns that Mr. Barr’s views of executive power, which frankly are much more expansive than my own, would place the Special Counsel’s investigation in jeopardy and that he would not commit to publicly release any Special Counsel report. However, during his confirmation hearing last month, Mr. Barr said that nothing could be more destructive to the rule of law than tolerating political interference in applying the law. Mr. Barr said that the rule of law is what enables us to ensure that justice is not arbitrary; that laws must be universally applied, including to our highest officials. In my own conversation with Mr. Barr, he reiterated that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law. He assured me that he would tolerate no level of interference with the investigation and reaffirmed unequivocally his commitment to the Justice Department’s independence. Further, while I fully support making the Special Counsel’s reports available to the public and will support legislation to that effect, Mr. Barr’s position is grounded in current Department of Justice policy. Given my background with the Department of Justice, my personal view is that it would be inappropriate for any Attorney General nominee to commit to releasing a report in its entirety without knowing its contents, especially when portions of it may contain sensitive intelligence and national security issues. That said, Mr. Barr has stated unequivocally to both the Judiciary Committee and to me that he believes there is a strong public interest in being as transparent as possible with the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and I take him at his word.

Finally, in my conversations with Mr. Barr I stressed how important the Justice Department’s civil rights functions are to me and to the people of Alabama. In response to my concerns, Mr. Barr assured me of his commitment to protecting civil rights, including the vigorous enforcement of voting rights protections.

If Mr. Barr is confirmed, I look forward to working with him and with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation continues unimpeded and that the rule of law is consistently upheld.

Barr previously served as attorney general under the late President George H.W. Bush’s administration from 1991-1993. Trump announced Barr’s nomination on December 7 to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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

1 week ago

Alabama officials applaud Trump’s State of the Union

(The White House/YouTube)

President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union Address Tuesday night, with elected officials across Alabama applauding the “inspiring” speech.

In addition to congressional Republicans praising the address, Governor Kay Ivey identified one bipartisan issue that especially relates to Alabama’s current needs and priorities.

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Speaking of Trump’s “Initiative for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” Ivey added, “I, too, urge Congress to quickly fund this initiative to help, not just those of us in Alabama, but the entire United States.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) highlighted the unifying theme of Trump’s remarks, with a focus on reaching “common sense solutions to pressing policy issues.”

The senior senator from Alabama again praised the economy under the president’s leadership, too.

Shelby’s statement as follows:

Tonight President Trump outlined a policy agenda that both parties can work together to achieve. During his first two years in office, the President has delivered on many promises to the American people, including signing historic tax reform into law, creating one of the strongest economies I have seen in my lifetime, and focusing on vital infrastructure projects.

While huge strides were made to address our nation’s most critical issues last Congress, I applaud President Trump’s dedication to solve the challenges still facing us today. It is imperative that we work to put our political disagreements aside in order to secure our borders with a comprehensive solution. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on this critical issue.

As President Trump highlighted, we must strive to reach common sense solutions to pressing policy issues in the days ahead. I plan to continue working to promote safe and legal immigration, protect American workers, rebuild our infrastructure, lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, and prioritize our national security. The President’s remarks this evening were inspiring, and I look forward to implementing policies that ensure the success and prosperity of the American people. As he said tonight, victory is not winning for our party, victory is winning for our country.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) was effusive in his praise for the speech, also drawing attention to Alabama-centric issues.

Byrne’s statement as follows:

Tonight, President Trump’s message was clear: if we stop with the political games and focus on solutions, American Greatness knows no bounds. By supporting the President’s clear and bold agenda, the American people will be stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

Most notably, President Trump again outlined a commonsense strategy to secure our border. After decades of inaction by both parties, it is time we finally fix our broken immigration system and keep the American people safe.

President Trump also outlined many issues important to Alabama. From strengthening our military to expanding rural broadband to lowering prescription drug costs, under President Trump’s agenda the people of Alabama stand to benefit and our state will become even stronger.

It is time to stop with the politics of resistance and act on these critically important issues. President Trump is right when he said that great bipartisan achievements in this Congress are possible, especially when we rally behind a commonsense agenda building American Greatness. Let’s get it done.

In a press release, Congresswoman Martha Roby (AL-2) listed infrastructure on her list of highlights as well.

“In his second State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted the economic success hardworking Americans are experiencing thanks to the implementation of pro-growth policies, including the historic tax reform overhaul,” Roby outlined. “I was also pleased to hear more about his plan to work with Congress to reinvigorate our badly aging infrastructure, strengthen our military, bolster our national security efforts, improve care for veterans, and defend the unborn.”

She continued, “In addition, President Trump laid out his vision for our country’s future as it relates to enhancing border security and finally addressing our serious illegal immigration problem. Now, with a divided Congress, I was encouraged by his remarks about the importance of bipartisanship and working together to get our job done. I am eager to continue working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to deliver the results that the American people and Alabama’s Second District deserve.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-3) embraced the president’s call for unity, saying this “will only make our nation stronger.”

“Tonight, President Trump reaffirmed in his speech what makes our country great,” Rogers said in a statement.

“His vision for America is attainable if we all work together and his eloquent call for unity will only make our nation stronger. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump to build an even stronger economy, ensure our national security remains a top priority and secure our Southwest border with Mexico,” he concluded.

In a press release, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) stressed that Democrats need to come to the table and reach a deal that will secure the border.

Aderholt’s statement as follows:

President Trump’s request for funding to build a wall along our southern border is not only reasonable, it is desperately needed. There is nothing “immoral” about a nation choosing to protect its borders and thereby protect its sovereignty.

What is immoral is to continue to allow a constant stream of drug traffickers, and human traffickers into the country. It is immoral to allow this unlawful door to remain open, because it encourages adults to put their children in grave danger – both from illness and from the strangers who transport them.

I fear that many of my Democrat colleagues are willing to set aside the laws of our land, and that is what we are talking about: immigration is governed by laws, to ensure fairness and safety. Many Democrats are willing to set aside these laws, and turn a blind eye to the dangers coming into our nation, for the prospect of future electoral gains.

I urge my colleagues in Congress to fund the border wall and to reopen our government.

Aderholt’s focus on border security was built on by his colleague from north Alabama.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) said, “President Trump did an excellent job of explaining why we must secure America’s porous southern border. Too many Americans have lost their lives and their jobs. Too many Americans have had their wages suppressed. Too many Americans are being forced to pay higher taxes to support welfare for illegal alien families. In short, President Trump laid bare for all to see the betrayal of American families by Democrats who care more about illegal aliens than Americans.”

“Whether the focus was on economic prosperity, free enterprise versus socialism, international relations, health care, national security, or the promise of America, President Trump hit the game-winning grand slam, shot the game-winning three point shot, and scored the game-winning touchdown. In sum, President Trump reminded us of how great America is and how proud we should be to be Americans,” he added.

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-6) urged Democrats in Congress to return to a common sense, bipartisan approach.

“By cooperating together, we will surely preserve our country for future generations,” he said.

Palmer’s statement as follows:

The President’s theme tonight of choosing greatness was what I think the nation needed to hear. He made it clear that we have a choice—we can choose to continue to pursue agendas that will weaken us, or we can choose an agenda that will unite us and ensure a bright and secure future for America.

A strong economy, a strong value for life at all stages, and strong border security are all things that should unite us. We are certainly better off now than we were two years ago. Under this Administration, businesses have expanded, burdensome regulations have been eliminated, people are taking home bigger paychecks, and many businesses that had left the U.S. have returned. President Trump noted tonight: ‘The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast as when I took office, and we are considered by far and away the hottest economy in the world…More people are working now than ever before in our history – 157 million people at work.’

In terms of jobs, the economy, our relations with other nations, and our standing the world, the State of the Union is, as President Trump said, “strong.” But the President also made it clear that the greatest threat to the Union is the bitter partisan politics that divide us. He was right to challenge Democrats and Republicans to come together to ‘govern not as two parties, but as one nation.’

By cooperating together, we will surely preserve our country for future generations. I was glad to hear President Trump express value for those future generations by upholding the sanctity of life tonight. Recognition of the dignity of life at all stages and protection of the right to life are inherent to our nation’s ideals. We must continue defending this most basic right if we are to flourish as a country.

We also must defend our country where it is vulnerable to outside harm. For many weeks now, the need for strong border security has been apparent. Between the gang violence, human trafficking, and illegal drug trading, there is undoubtedly a crisis at the southern border. President Trump has now provided a window of opportunity for Congress to fund all of its agencies while also ensuring a secure border. In years past, there has been bipartisan support for border security that includes a physical barrier.

I hope my Democratic colleagues will heed President Trump’s words tonight and return to this bipartisan approach that he has encouraged. He summed it up well tonight when he said, ‘Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.’

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7) did not release a statement or share their thoughts on social media after the State of the Union.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan lauded Trump’s call for unity, stating, “America is and will continue to be great, but we are stronger if we decide to come together and work to find solutions that better our nation.”

Lathan’s statement as follows:

President Trump showed true leadership through his incredible State of the Union Address. In calling for a renewal of bipartisanship and cooperation, our president was the picture of strength and resolve.

President Trump is right. America is and will continue to be great, but we are stronger if we decide to come together and work to find solutions that better our nation. To echo President Trump’s words, we must choose greatness. In putting aside our differences, we can make the seemingly impossible, possible.

We deeply appreciate President Trump’s strong determination to end
late-term abortions. All children are worthy of life. It is up to us to protect their innocence.

We were also reminded of President Trump’s accomplishments during the last two years. From historically low unemployment and tax rates to nearly eradicating ISIS, to rolling back burdensome federal regulations, one thing is crystal clear – our president is getting things done and improving life for Americans.

Alabama is proud to be a consistent and strong supporter of President Trump and his policies. His efforts to keep our nation safe, both internationally and at our borders are what America needs to remain secure. It is imperative that we build a wall to enforce our nation’s immigration laws and stop the flow of drugs, human traffickers and dangerous criminals from harming our citizens. It is American to embrace legal immigrants and the value they bring to America while simultaneously recognizing that our broken immigration system must be fixed.

While we witnessed the Democrats choosing to sit and not acknowledge the huge success of our American economy and the morality of stopping criminals crossing our borders who are harming our citizens, President Trump’s determination to protect all Americans is resolute for our nation’s safety.

The Alabama Republican Party will continue to support and partner with President Trump throughout his presidency. Now is the time to end divisiveness and act to ensure the future of our country remains on the right path.

You can read about Trump’s special guests at the State of the Union here.

You can read the transcript of Trump’s speech as prepared here.

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

1 week ago

Shelby: Economy ‘hottest I’ve ever seen in my lifetime’

Ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) took time to highlight what is perhaps the crown jewel in President Donald Trump’s list of achievements: the record-breaking national economy.

In an interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, Shelby predicted that Trump would talk about finding common ground while also sharing some of his administration’s accomplishments during the annual speech.

“I would think he’s going to reach out to the Democrats and probably talk about some of the achievements,” Shelby advised.

The senator added, “The economy’s good, the hottest I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

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The remarks came as Shelby serves as vice chair of the bicameral conference of lawmakers charged with reaching a solution on funding the remainder of the government for the rest of the fiscal year, immigration policy and border security appropriations.

In the conference’s first meeting last week, Shelby delivered a strong call to action, emphasizing,”[T]hese negotiations must not end with platitudes or future promises; they must yield results that actually secure the border.”

Shelby’s full statement from the meeting as follows:

For 35 days Democratic leaders in the House and Senate pledged that negotiations on border security would occur once the government was re-opened.

With a three-week continuing resolution in place, today we begin – in earnest – a negotiation to resolve our differences on this critical issue.

Thus far, all sides seem to agree that border security is important.

That is a good start, but it cannot end there.

These negotiations must not end with platitudes or future promises; they must yield results that actually secure the border.

What is necessary to accomplish this goal?

Our border patrol professionals – those on the front lines – tell us that a comprehensive approach is necessary.

An approach that includes technology, infrastructure, personnel and physical barriers.

Smart technology is part of a comprehensive solution, but it is not the solution in and of itself.

Cameras, sensors, drones and other smart technology highlight the gaps and vulnerabilities along our border.

In short, they provide a greater awareness of exactly where our insecurities lie along the border.

But smart technology alone does not actually stop anyone from crossing into the U.S. illegally.

And if that is happening, our borders are not secure.

Our border patrol tells us that they need physical barriers to help them do their job.

Not from coast to coast, but strategically placed where traffic is highest.

Combined with technology, manpower, and other infrastructure, these strategic barriers comprise a comprehensive solution that is capable of fully securing the border.

It is a commonsense, all-of-the-above solution to a problem that both parties have said for decades we need to fix.

Stepping back for a moment, it is unfortunate that this issue has become so politicized.

That has not always been the case, even up until very recently.

Just last May the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a Homeland Security spending bill that included money for physical barriers by a vote of 26 – 5.

There was no partisan vitriol surrounding that vote.

The Committee simply decided on a bipartisan basis to increase funding for a project that Congress had funded the previous year.

Since that time, the President has increased his funding request based on the advice of our border security professionals on the ground.

I hope we heed the guidance of these professionals as our negotiations proceed.

As appropriators, we know how to work together on a bipartisan basis and solve problems.

That is what we have done for the majority of the FY2019 process, and that is what the American people expect of us now.

So I hope these negotiations yield results, and soon.

And I hope that by reaching a compromise here we will set a tone of bipartisanship for the appropriations cycle ahead of us.

Chairwoman Lowey, Vice Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Granger and all Members of this committee – I look forward to working with you, but I must stress that as long as we remain polarized, we will never resolve our differences on this critical issue for the good of the American people.

In interviews in recent days, Shelby has reaffirmed his support for a comprehensive border security package that includes physical barriers – or “walls” – in certain strategic locations. He also urged negotiators on both sides to put politics aside and listen to the experts that deal with the issue daily so the best policy solution can be reached.

Last month, the senior senator from Alabama called the economy under Trump “the best [he has] ever seen.”

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama backed by 21 states in asking Supreme Court to hear dismemberment abortion case

(Marshall Campaign)

Attorney General Steve Marshall said he is pleased that 21 other states are supporting Alabama in his petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case appealing the constitutionality of Alabama’s law banning dismemberment abortions.

The State of Louisiana was joined by 20 additional states in an amicus curiae brief filed Monday in the case of Marshall v. West Alabama Women’s Center. Alabama’s appeal sets up what many observers believe could be a historic rollback of Roe v. Wade.

This came after Marshall filed a cert petition December 20 with the Supreme Court seeking review of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ August 2018 ruling against the “Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act,” which was enacted in 2016. This law banned the gruesome second-trimester abortion procedure medically known as “dilation and evacuation,” more commonly referred to as “dismemberment.” Approximately seven percent of the abortions performed in Alabama each year are dismemberment abortions. State law allows the use of more humane alternative medical procedures to perform second-trimester abortions.

“The support of these states underscores how significant the national interest is in resolving this issue,” Marshall said in a statement. “At least nine states have enacted similar laws, and litigation is pending in the Fifth Circuit, the Eighth Circuit and multiple state courts.”

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In a dismemberment abortion, a doctor dismembers a living unborn child and extracts him or her one piece at a time from the uterus using clamps, grasping forceps, tongs or scissors. Marshall argued that Alabama’s law is similar to the federal ban on partial-birth abortions which was enacted in 2003 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007.

The attorney general noted that federal law already constitutionally prohibits partial-birth abortions and has asserted that the lower courts were wrong to enjoin the Yellowhammer State from enforcing its ban on dismemberment of a living fetus.

“There is no ‘meaningful difference’ between death-by-dismemberment abortion in the womb and partial birth abortion outside it,” Marshall wrote in his brief.

He further argued that the Supreme Court needs to act to resolve inconsistencies in how the two procedures are treated legally, and to ultimately reverse the lower court ruling in Alabama.

Louisiana was joined in the amicus brief by the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Governor Kay Ivey has previously expressed her support for this potentially historic appeal.

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

2 weeks ago

Byrne advocates for full Alabama red snapper season

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) Monday sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging support for a full 2019 red snapper season in Alabama.

In a statement, Byrne explained, “Alabama showed last year that we can successfully manage our own recreational Red Snapper season, and I hope NOAA will soon approve the 2019 season to ensure our fishermen are given an adequate opportunity to fish for Red Snapper.”

“As I have said repeatedly, this issue is about more than just fishing,” he said. “A full Red Snapper season helps boost our coastal economies due to everything from fuel sales to hotel and condo rentals. We must continue pushing for greater state control over our fisheries, and approving Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season would be a major step in the right direction.”

Last year, NOAA Fisheries approved an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for Alabama and other Gulf Coast states to allow them each to set their own red snapper seasons within federal catch limits. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) spearheaded this important effort to establish the state-led pilot program for red snapper in the 2017 appropriations process.

Congressman Byrne’s full letter as follows:

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Mr. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator
NOAA Fisheries
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dr. Roy Crabtree, Regional Administrator
NOAA Fisheries
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Dear Mr. Oliver and Dr. Crabtree:

I was pleased to see the draft rule to increase the Red Snapper Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Annual Catch Targets issued by NOAA late last year. Your efforts continue to show exactly what those of us on the Gulf Coast have known for years: the health of the Red Snapper fishery is incredibly strong. With that, I write today in support of Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season. As you are well aware, fishermen along the Gulf Coast have faced increasingly short fishing seasons for Red Snapper.

As with the Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) you approved in 2018 that also covers this upcoming 2019 season, I encourage you to approve Alabama’s 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions which will allow for the monitoring of in-season daily Red Snapper landings to maximize season length and benefit anglers, while ensuring harvests stay within set limits. I have always been an advocate for states using innovative methods to manage local fisheries and encourage you to grant Alabama’s application. Approving the 2019 terms and conditions would be consistent with congressional intent, as authored by Senator Richard Shelby in the Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 Appropriations bills, directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement a state-led pilot program to allow states to take the lead in managing Red Snapper.

I enjoy working with you and am grateful for the Department’s help with the 2017 and 2018 Red Snapper seasons. Given the Red Snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico is healthy and continues to grow, I hope you will approve the Alabama 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions with the increased ACL to allow fishermen access to the fishery. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Bradley Byrne
Member of Congress

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

2 weeks ago

Gavin McInnes suing SPLC for defamation over ‘hate’ designations

(YHN, G. McInnes/YouTube)

MONTGOMERY — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is facing another high-profile legal challenge to its practice of designating and publishing a list of “hate groups” in the United States.

On Monday morning, attorneys for “Proud Boys” founder Gavin McInnes filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Alabama against the SPLC, alleging that the Montgomery-based organization has defamed McInnes, deprived him of economic opportunities and caused him to be terminated from multiple places of employment.

“SPLC’s defamatory, false, and misleading designation of Mr. McInnes as a ‘hate’ figure is purposefully deceitful and intended to tarnish Mr. McInnes’s reputation, disparage Mr. McInnes’s good name and work, inflict harm and financial damage, reduce Mr. McInnes’s goodwill and standing in the community, expose Mr. McInnes, his family and anyone else associated with him to public scorn, harassment, intimidation, and potential violence, and to denigrate, malign, and ridicule Mr. McInnes to countless individuals and potential employers and partners around the world,” the 61-page lawsuit says.

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The filing explains, “Mr. McInnes brings this action against SPLC for defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him, as alleged in detail below; for its concerted, obsessive and malicious actions taken to ‘deplatform’ Mr. McInnes; for its tortious interference with his economic opportunities; and for intentionally interfering with his contractual relationships by causing, inter alia, the termination of Mr. McInnes’s employment, an almost complete deplatforming and defunding and subjecting him to employment discrimination based on his lawful non-employment recreational activities.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, SPLC president Richard Cohen called McInnes’ case “meritless.”

“To paraphrase FDR, judge us by the enemies we’ve made,” Cohen said. “Gavin McInnes has a history of making inflammatory statements about Muslims, women, and the transgender community. The fact that he’s upset with SPLC tells us that we’re doing our job exposing hate and extremism. His case is meritless.”

At a press conference across from the SPLC headquarters Monday afternoon, McInnes said that the Proud Boys was simply a pro-Trump drinking club.

The group has been designated by the SPLC as an “extremist” “hate group.”

McInnes is also the co-founder of VICE Media, as well as a prominent rightwing agitator who has enjoyed a significant national following on digital media platforms.

He was recently terminated by Blaze TV following its absorption of Mark Levin’s Conservative Review Television (CRTV), where McInnes hosted a show. This came after Proud Boys members were charged with assaulting protesters after a McInnes speech in New York City in October. He ended his ties with the group after the incident but told reporters Monday that the Proud Boys arrested had simply been defending themselves against violent far-left protesters.

McInnes has been banned from social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He alleges that the SPLC’s “defamation” has precluded him from traditional media employment opportunities that he has had in the past (he was formerly a regular guest on Fox News channel, for example), and now being “deplatformed” due to being labeled a “hate figure” has destroyed his ability to make a living or share his message through digital outlets.

The lawsuit is asking that the SPLC be forced to remove McInnes’ designation as a “hate figure” and the “hate group” designation given to the Proud Boys. He is also requesting monetary compensation to relieve the damages allegedly already done to him and a “public retraction, apology and appropriate corrective advertising.”

The SPLC paid a $3.4 million settlement and apologized to an anti-extremist organization last year after a similar defamation lawsuit over the group’s hate designations.

Federal records show the nonprofit, tax-exempt SPLC reported revenues of $132 million and net assets of $450 million for 2017.

McInnes is being represented by Montgomery-based attorney and talk radio host Baron Coleman, along with the New York City firm of Mandelbaum Salsburg PC. Ali Alexander, a political activist and consultant, is also involved in garnering public support for McInnes.

You can watch Monday’s press conference here.

You can view a copy of the lawsuit here.

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

2 weeks ago

Byrne ‘exploring legislation’ ensuring NY/VA abortion bills ‘are treated exactly as they are: as the murder of a child’

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

One Alabama congressman is considering federal legislation in response to recent state bills passed in New York and Virginia that would allow abortion up to and even past the point of birth in some circumstances.

Friday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) released a statement saying he is “exploring legislation to ensure these actions are treated exactly as they are: as the murder of a child.”

“I am simply appalled by these barbaric efforts in Virginia and New York to make it legal to take the life of a baby through birth and, according to Governor Northman, after birth,” Byrne said.

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He continued, “Every life is precious and worth fighting for, and it is heartbreaking to hear Democrats talking so casually about taking the life of a baby. We cannot sit back and allow this to stand. We must speak out and take action, and I am exploring legislation to ensure these actions are treated exactly as they are: as the murder of a child.”

This came after Byrne appeared on Yellowhammer News contributor Jeff Poor’s daily radio show on WVNN, calling on Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) to explain his position on the Virginia bill, which is considered more extreme than the New York one.

Jones has since spoken to The Daily Caller, refusing to directly state whether he supports the new measures. However, Jones once again doubled down on his support of late-term abortion.

Partial transcript of Jones’ interview as follows:

JONES: This is what I think about all of this. I think people need to sit down and talk a little bit about what we can do to keep people—women—from having to make very, very difficult choices.

Q: Do support partial birth abortion?

JONES: I support the law as it stands right now and that’s what we’re going to stick with, and I just think that we all need to speak a little bit together and talk about how we can do to…

Q: Do you think New York should have passed that bill?

JONES: I don’t speak for New York.

Q: Do you think Alabama should pass that bill?

JONES: I don’t speak for the state legislature.

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

2 weeks ago

Aderholt: Trump ‘has stood up more for manufacturing jobs in Alabama’ than any president

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

In an Oval Office ceremony Thursday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was honored front-and-center as President Donald Trump signed a landmark “Buy American” executive order intended to boost the nation’s manufacturing industry.

The order, entitled “Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects,” will direct federally funded infrastructure projects to use American materials “to the greatest extent practicable.” It is especially focused on using American steel, iron, aluminum and concrete.

Aderholt was singled out as an integral proponent of “Buy American” policies by the president, as Trump gave him the Oval Office floor to address the media and explain his support.

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The Alabama congressman then made some remarks before receiving some praise from Trump and the White House’s director of trade and manufacturing policy, Peter Navarro.

Partial transcript of the White House ceremony as follows:

ADERHOLT: Well, let me say, first of all, that this is a very commonsense, a bipartisan piece of executive order that the president — we have worked on legislation in the past that’s worked this from the appropriations side from year to year.

But what this executive order does, it goes beyond that and it really tries to make sure that we — as the president said, American hands are doing the job and this is what we’re — when we go back home, we want to see our manufacturers do well. We want to see them grow. We want to see our workers do — have better jobs. So thanks, Mr. President, for doing it. So, thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you. Appreciate it.

NAVARRO: Mr. President, if I may — this gentleman here has been a long-time leader on the hill carrying the Buy American banner, and his leadership is very much appreciated.

TRUMP: That’s why he wins by so much.

NAVARRO: Yes. That is correct. (Laughter.)

TRUMP: That’s why he doesn’t worry too much about races. You know? Just wins.

ADERHOLT: It helps when you’ve got a district that he wins about 80 percent. So — (laughter).

TRUMP: I think I did very well. (Laughter.) Come to think of it.

ADERHOLT: The best of 435 districts, so —

TRUMP: That’s great. That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Say hello.

Trump won Aderholt’s district, Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District, by a wider margin than any other in the nation.

Towards the end of the event, Aderholt added one more enthusiastic statement for the record.

“Let me just add one thing that I have — this makes my 22nd year serving in the House of Representatives. This president has stood up more for manufacturing jobs in Alabama and across the country — not just Alabama — than any president. So I thank you for standing up,” Aderholt told Trump.

The full transcript of the ceremony is available here.

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