Doug Jones is having his best week in Washington; How did Democrats already ruin it?
Freshman Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) quietly may have just had his best ever week in Washington, D.C. However, with two impeachment charges against President Donald Trump potentially heading to the Senate soon, Jones is set to be stuck with another major wedge issue on his plate that could overshadow the day-to-day business — and accomplishments — in Congress.
Jones already is faced with the stark reality of running for reelection in 2020 as a Democrat in a state Trump won by nearly 28 points in 2016 and in which Republican Governor Kay Ivey won by 19 points in 2018.
Alabama’s junior senator has previously taken votes the majority of his constituents will be hard-pressed to forget, such as Jones’ opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, support of federal funding of abortions and opposition to a late-term abortion ban called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” And while examples like these are not helpful to Jones politically, one soundbite might be even worse, as he asserted during the Kavanaugh confirmation process that representing the majority of Alabamians is not “the be all to end all.”
Partisan hurdles aside, Jones’ biggest problem last year, as I wrote previously, was that he had no deliverables to take back to the people of Alabama — no major bills passed, issues tangibly advanced or state priorities championed to an end.
That changed this week in a flurry of real, objective accomplishments for Jones.
First, the compromise National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the House Wednesday and is set for final passage by the Senate contained a bill Jones has been pushing non-stop, which he calls the Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019. He has been working tirelessly to pass this legislation that would stop an average yearly reduction in survivor’s benefits of $11,000 for surviving spouses of retired military service members who died of a service-connected cause or of service members killed on active duty. This legislation is set to help over 65,000 military widows and widowers across the country. The accomplishment occurred in a bipartisan manner, as Jones worked with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to introduce and advance the bill.
Additionally, the NDAA contained general provisions benefitting the Yellowhammer State. In a release, Jones pointed to important provisions he “secured.”
And, if that was not enough of a week for Jones, another bill he authored received final passage on Tuesday. Called the FUTURE Act, this legislation would permanently renew annual federal funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). That funding had expired in September. Alabama has the most HBCUs in the nation (14). Jones’ legislation also takes a first step to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for all college applicants.
All that being said, Jones’ political future got darker this week, with Democrats in the House deciding to continue advancing an impeachment process that was doomed to fail from the beginning. Trump will be impeached in the House, but will never be convicted in the Senate. Why pretend otherwise?
Along with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates lurching further and further to the left daily, as every debate looks more like a dumpster fire than a circus, far-left Democrats in Washington, D.C. are killing Jones’ reelection chances.
Sure, he has an inherently monumental task ahead of him electorally regardless of what his national party is doing. But in a normal political atmosphere, the power of incumbency and a huge war-chest — now coupled with Jones bringing home the bacon a few times — would at least keep things interesting.
Alas, Jones will soon find himself in another lose-lose situation as impeachment looms. We have already seen parallels pop up with how he handled the Kavanaugh nomination. Jones has gone out of his way time and again to publicly talk about the process itself related to impeachment, something he has no control over or input in whatsoever. He has called for the whistleblower to remain anonymous and stuck up for the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry, arguing it is not “a witch hunt” nor a “hoax” or “fake news.” While he also maintains he has not made up his mind one way or the other, as he has yet to hear from witnesses or examine evidence, Jones has been boxed in by his party’s embrace of its most radical elements — as well as Jones’ own political instincts. Now, if he votes to convict Trump on impeachment, he obviously faces the wrath of the Alabama electorate once again; meanwhile, even if he votes against convicting Trump, it will just look like a political calculation — an insincere act of desperation.
Whether his fellow Democrats or himself, Jones’ biggest problems are internal right now. An excellent week for him quickly turned into just another political disaster.
Democrats’ impeachment push will go a long way to ensuring once and for all that Jones’ brightest moments in office will ultimately just be a few lines on a former U.S. Senator’s Wikipedia page come 2021.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn