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.

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Democrats use July 4 to attack America, judge denies Swalwell’s motion to win case against Brooks, more legislators question prion plans and more …

7. Bill Cosby could be going on tour

  • Since Bill Cosby was released from prison, he’s now allegedly been in talks to start a comedy tour. Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesperson, has said that Cosby “is just excited the way the world is welcoming him back.”
  • When Cosby was released from prison, he continued his narrative that he is innocent. Wyatt has also insisted, “[C]omedy club owners have called. People want to see him.”

6. Steve Clouse running for speaker, Poole withdraws

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  • State Representative Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) has announced that he will be running for the speaker of the House position after current Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced that he would not be running for reelection.
  • While Clouse has just announced his candidacy, State Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) has withdrawn his candidacy for speaker, saying that he’s “decided that it is not in the best interests of my family for me to pursue the position of Speaker of the House.”

5. Sheriff Blakely’s trial starts next week

  • Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely will go on trial next Monday for charges of corruption. There have been dozens of people subpoenaed to testify in the trial that’s expected to take about a month.
  • Blakely is facing five felony counts of theft, five felony counts of using his position for personal gain and one misdemeanor charge of theft. It’s also expected that there will be at least 15 current and former employees of the sheriff’s office that will testify.

4. Legislative scorecards are out

  • The American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Legislative Accountability released the scorecard for 2020. Legislators are scored on education, health care, regulations, taxation, monetary policy, Second Amendment, government transparency, elections, environment, foreign policy, free speech and federalism.
  • For the U.S. Representatives from Alabama, Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) was scored nationally No. 29, while Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) nationally was No. 26, and Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) was No. 42 nationally. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) was ranked No. 23 nationally, and U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) was ranked No. 56. For Alabama State Representatives, Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) was ranked No. 1, and for State Senate, Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) was placed at No. 1.

3. State Sen. Elliott doesn’t like that legislators are negative about the prospects of new prisons

  • Recently, State Representative Steve McMillan (R-Foley) commented that he doesn’t believe the prison issues will be handled in the 2022 legislative session since it’s a campaign year.
  • State Senator Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) expressed his disappointment with this perspective. Elliott said he’s “frustrated to hear some of my colleagues say this is a mountain too high to climb … that’s just very undermining when we’re trying to work on and solve this problem.”

2. Default judgment against Brooks denied

  • U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has requested that there be a default judgment issued in his civil lawsuit against U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), which happens in scenarios where a defendant is unresponsive to a lawsuit.
  • U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta has denied this request, though, saying that they couldn’t consider Brooks “an essentially unresponsive party” and strong policy reasons favor resolution of disputes on their merits.” Brooks recently requested that he be dismissed from the lawsuit.

1. Jeff Sessions warns of the left’s attack on American history, then they do it on July 4

  • On Sunday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared at the First Baptist Church of Huntsville and warned that Americans should not allow “the left to demoralize the founding of the greatest country in the history of the world.”
  • As if Sessions was predicting the future, U.S. Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) used the Fourth of July holiday to fire off an ignorant tweet claiming, “When they say that the 4th of July is about American freedom, remember this: the freedom they’re referring to is for white people. This land is stolen land and Black people still aren’t free.” None of this is true, and she knows it.

3 weeks ago

Sorrell, Shelnutt top 2020 ACU scorecard in state legislature; Byrne, Brooks tops among federal delegation

(file)

Last year was an unusual year for the legislative branch given the expanded role of government in our lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Legislative Accountability released its 2020 scorecard, which judged legislative branches at both the state and federal levels of government on how they performed in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Among the categories that legislators were judged included Second Amendment, education, elections, environment, federalism, foreign policy, free speech, government transparency, health care, monetary policy, regulations and taxation.

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U.S. House rankings:

Former U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) led the way as the most conservative of the Alabama federal delegation, edging out U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) by two points. Byrne did not run for reelection in 2020 as he made a bid for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate last year. Following Brooks were Palmer, Rogers, Aderholt, Roby and Sewell.

Byrne came in 29th overall nationally with Brooks and Palmer cracking the top 50 at 36th and 42nd respectively.

(ACU Foundation)

U.S. Senate rankings:

It probably is not much of a surprise that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) beat out then-U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) to lead the way as Alabama’s most conservative U.S. Senator in 2020 according to the tabulations. Jones was defeated by Tommy Tuberville in the 2020 general election. Shelby announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection.

Overall, Shelby was the 23rd-most conservative senator according to ACU in 2020. Jones was 56th overall but third among Democrats, following U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

(ACU Foundation)

State House rankings:

State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals), currently a candidate for the 2022 state auditor’s race, led the way in the State House of Representatives by a 16-point margin over his closest competitors, State Reps. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant).

Rounding out the top 10 according to ACU were State Reps. Corey Harbison (R-Good Hope), David Wheeler (R-Vestavia Hills), Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills), Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka), Craig Lipscomb (R-Gadsden), Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley).

(ACU Foundation)

State Senate rankings:

As it usually goes when these rankings are tabulated, Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) emerged as the most conservative in the Alabama State Senate, according to the rankings. However, he statistically tied State Senate President Pro-Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), who served as the body’s majority leader in 2020 and State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay).

Not far behind that trio was State Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), who at the time of the scoring was the president pro-tem of the Senate. Rounding out the top 10 were State Sens. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road), Tom Butler (R-Madison), Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) and Chris Elliott (R-Daphne).

(ACU Foundation)

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

4 months ago

Study: Gulf contains around three times as many red snapper as previously estimated

(The Great Red Snapper Count/Youtube)

The final results of a high-profile study revealed on Wednesday that the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico contains more than 110 million red snapper, roughly three times as many as previously estimated.

Referred to as The Great Red Snapper Count, the years-long study was funded to the tune of $10 million by the federal government and conducted by scientists at the Harte Research Institute in Texas.

“This is fantastic news,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Wednesday in reaction to the news. “In 2016, I worked to have Congress fund this $10 million, state-of-the-art study & I’m very pleased with its results.”

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“[T]his new absolute abundance estimate may potentially change the way the Gulf of Mexico fishery is managed by federal and state officials,” Harte researchers noted in a writeup of the results.

The Harte institute claims they were able to examine “large expanses not previously surveyed by NOAA.” Over 80 Harte scientists worked on the project.

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has provided the previous government estimates on red snapper populations.

The agency’s most recent estimate of the snapper population had been 36 million, whereas the more advanced Harte research indicates it is 110 million.

Harte researchers provided breakdowns of the locations of Snapper in two graphics.

(Harte Institute)
(Harte Institute)

“This is great news. This study revealed there are 110 million red snapper, which is about 3 times more than prior estimates. Thank you [Senator Shelby] for your leadership on this!” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), whose district encompasses all of Alabama’s coastline.

The Great Red Snapper Count was also a priority for Carl’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

Regulating the red snapper season for anglers in Alabama is the Gulf Council. The council has not yet published a news release on how the findings will impact its decisions.

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

5 months ago

Dale Jackson: Attacks by Democrats from outside and inside Alabama will help propel Brooks to enter the U.S. Senate race to replace Shelby

(Dale Jackson/Facebook, Wikicommons, Pixabay, YHN)

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has announced that he is not going to run for re-election. This signals the conclusion of a long and productive career as Alabama’s most influential advocate in Washington, D.C. It also opens the door to what could be a pretty crowded primary to replace him.

Will former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions launch another campaign? Unlikely.

Will former U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) take another shot at a Senate seat? I don’t see it.

Will Shelby’s former chief of staff and current Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Boyd Britt attempt to follow in her old boss’ footsteps as a master appropriator? There are lots of rumblings about her aspirations and backers.

While these players may or may not be chomping at the bit to get in this race in 2022, one guy probably will be in for sure.

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Current U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has run before, left the door open to run again and probably sees this as his last opportunity to make an impact in the U.S. Senate with multiple terms in office.

The national media, and their far less effective local counterparts, seem to think that Brooks is looking at censure, expulsion or even prosecution for speaking at a rally on January 6 — a full six hours before the embarrassing attack on the U.S. Capitol by some at that rally.

Censure is the only real option on the table, but even that seems unlikely, so the media and their Democrats in the state and elsewhere have launched hamfisted smear campaigns against Brooks.

The Alabama Democratic Party is selling “No Mo Bullshit” shirts, which surely got some laughs when they came up with it, as well as garnering some sweet retweets from California and New York. They may have even raised a few dozen dollars, but the electoral impact in this state of Alabama is probably close to zero.

But that’s not all. Out of state “Republicans” who seem to only target Republicans have targeted Brooks as well.

The idea that Brooks’ voters would want him to resign for supporting President Donald Trump and expecting voting irregularities to be investigated by Congress seems like one that overpaid consultants would come up with. Those consultants would likely get paid to work for whoever decided to challenge Brooks in another GOP House primary that would merely see him decimate their latest sacrificial lamb.

Brooks can not possibly be worried about this. In fact, in an appearance on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Brooks suggested he wanted more of these billboards to be placed — not in his district, but all over the state.

Some might view this as a joke, which it most certainly is, but it is also easy to see that Congressman Brooks knows that his current position among Alabama Republicans is pretty good — far better than it was during his 2017 run for U.S. Senate.

The comment by Brooks indicates that he believes that the misguided attacks by the national media and the irrelevant reporters in the Alabama political press don’t hurt him. They help him.

It also shows that Brooks is looking at that U.S. Senate seat for 2022, and now that the speculation about Senator Shelby has borne itself out, Brooks will probably run for the seat.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

6 months ago

Bradley Byrne rejoins law firm following departure from Congress

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Adams and Reese LLP on Wednesday announced that former Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) has rejoined the firm’s Mobile office as special counsel.

According to a release, Byrne is a member of the firm’s Intersection of Business and Government Practice Group, where he focuses on representing a wide range of clients in government relations and economic development matters. He served in Congress from January 8, 2014 to January 3, 2021.

“I am excited about returning to private practice with the top-notch team at Adams and Reese, which feels to me like returning home,” Byrne said in a statement.

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“As a former leader within the firm’s Mobile office, I have seen how over the past several years, Adams and Reese’s Government Relations practice has grown and become a hallmark practice for the firm,” he continued. “Adams and Reese has historically welcomed several former elected officials to its ranks, which speaks to the firm’s status as a leader in government relations. I look forward to collaborating with a team of accomplished professionals to advocate for clients’ interests throughout the Southeast and in Washington, D.C.”

Byrne brings more than 30 years of experience in private practice and more than a decade of public service to the firm, where he will provide government relations services at the state and federal levels, corporate advice and counsel, economic development services, and labor relations counsel for a mix of private businesses, public entities, as well as both state and federal associations. Throughout his legal career, he has litigated hundreds of civil cases across the Southeast.

His time representing Coastal Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives included service as a member of the Committee on Armed Services. Byrne was an outspoken supporter of a strong national defense and worked to support Alabama’s significant defense footprint. He also served on the House Committee on Education and Labor, which compliments his former roles as a member of the Alabama State Board of Education and chancellor of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.

“Bradley’s track record serving as a passionate advocate for Alabama businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations makes him a great fit with our team at Adams and Reese,” stated Britton Bonner, a partner in Adams and Reese’s Mobile office who represents numerous Alabama entities in government relations and economic development matters at the state and federal levels. “Bradley is driven and committed to making a difference for his clients, ensuring their voices are heard in the Alabama legislature and in Washington. His in-depth knowledge of the workings of government will be an incredible asset to our clients and team alike.”

A 1980 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and a 1977 graduate of Duke University, Byrne has received notable honors for excellence in service and his commitment to business and industry. Some recent and notable awards he has received include the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award (2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award (2015–2019), International Franchise Association Legislator of the Year (2017), Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association Legislator of the Year (2020), Business Council of Alabama Bubba Lee Political Courage Award (2016), Healthcare Leadership Council Champion of Healthcare Innovation (2016), National Association of Manufacturers Champion of Manufacturing (2016), and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award (2019).

An avid sportsman and small forest owner, Byrne is also an advocate for the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting industries, and received the Alabama Wildlife Federation Legislative Conservationist of the Year in 2005, 2014 and 2015.

Adams and Reese’s footprint of offices across the Southeast and in D.C. includes locations in Mobile, Birmingham and Montgomery.

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

Byrne: Thank you

(B. Byrne/Facebook)

This is my last weekly report as your congressman. Serving you in Washington these last seven years has been a great honor, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity you have given me. I never once walked out on the floor of the House of Representatives when I wasn’t in awe that I was there to speak and vote for you.

I leave Congress with hope and optimism about our country and our part of the country.

American elites, who control most of our news and entertainment outlets, would have you believe that America is a weakening, evil nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d not traveled abroad much before coming to Congress but, particularly given my work on the Armed Services Committee, I’ve traveled a lot more these last seven years. No matter where I went American power was evident and I heard from allies and adversaries a clear expectation that we are the world’s leader in nearly every way that matters.

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What this has meant for the world is remarkable. The rules-based system we created after World War II, and the example of our democracy and economy, changed things on a truly global scale. Global per capita gross domestic product has more than tripled during the last 75 years and the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 66% to less than 10%. Before World War II, there were more autocracies than democracies. Today, 96 nations are true democracies, and less than 80 are autocracies.

What we have achieved at home is equally impressive. We have more rights and freedoms equally enjoyed than any nation in the history of the world. No one can match our standard of living, our health care system, or our ability to face and address the issues which still challenge us.

I know this year has been hard on all of us. We’ve experienced a pandemic, an abruptly sharp recession, riots and down here two hurricanes. Some of us have lost loved ones or had the disease ourselves. But, our resilience as a nation and as a region has allowed us to enter 2021 looking forward to widespread distribution of the vaccine and return to a new normal.

America is a strong nation because of our morals and principles: freedom, equal opportunity, hard work, fair play, patriotism and faith in God. If we ever lose those, we will lose our strength, like Sampson without his hair.

I said earlier that I am hopeful and optimistic. That’s because these last seven years I’ve had the rare opportunity to see our nation as a whole and not just the part where I live. I’ve met and worked with genuinely good and smart people. And I have an appreciation for the important national institutions which have developed over the decades to provide the structures within which the American people work their will.

My ancestor, Gerald Byrne, came over from Ireland to what was then the colony of West Florida. He escaped poverty and a brutally repressive British occupation of his home country. Here he had freedom to be his own man, opportunity to make his own way, and the courage to take advantage of it all. Over 200 years later one of his descendants would end up in the House of Representatives. That’s amazing, but that’s America.

I want our country to continue to provide these opportunities to all of our people. I want us to maintain our morals and principles. And I want us all to be hopeful and optimistic because we have every reason to be so.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you. I will always cherish the fact you trusted me to speak and act for you. I hope I lived up to your expectations.

God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

7 months ago

VIDEO: Stimulus and spending bills face Trump’s wrath, Brooks’ election gambit gains steam, Bentley and Ivey take the vaccine and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— What will President Donald Trump do with Congress’ latest stimulus/spending bill?

— How many people will end up joining U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) election challenge in the House and Senate?

— Why does former Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) and current Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) getting the COVID-19 vaccine upset people?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) to discuss his time in Congress, the latest stimulus deal and election challenges.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at President Donald Trump, who is correct to be upset about the stimulus deal but wrong about why it is terrible.

https://business.facebook.com/watch/?v=886645125486985

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

Rep. Bradley Byrne: Christmas miracles

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Pixabay, YHN)

It’s Christmas week, so let’s talk about some Christmas miracles. No, I’m not talking about that monster hit John Metchie put on Florida’s Trey Dean in the SEC Championship game Saturday. We’ve come to expect plays like that from the Alabama football team this year.

I’m talking about some truly surprising big deal things.

First, look at the very good news on Alabama’s unemployment rate. At the end of November, it was 4.4%, down from 5.7% in October and from the COVID shutdown high of nearly 14% in April. We’re not fully recovered yet, but the quick turnaround we’ve already experienced is phenomenal. Chalk it up to the stimulus and PPP money Congress approved in the spring and summer, Governor Ivey’s prudent decision making in dealing with the pandemic and heroic acts by business owners large and small around the state to stay open.

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Next, Congress finally, finally, passed a next round COVID bill. It spends approximately $900 billion but only $325 billion is new money as we repurposed nearly $600 billion from earlier COVID bills. Each person (including children) will receive $600 in stimulus money so that a family of four would receive $2400. The unemployment insurance subsidy is maintained through March 14 at $300 a week. Small business owners who availed themselves of the first round of forgivable PPP loans will be able to get a second round and fully deduct all expenses. There’s funding for schools, public health departments and for producing and distributing the vaccines.

We could have had this same bill months ago but Speaker Nancy Pelosi held it up so she could help her candidate win the presidential election. That’s not my opinion – that’s what she admitted to recently. She started out wanting over $3 trillion, then it was $2 trillion then it was $1.2 trillion. She insisted throughout that we use taxpayer money to bail out poorly managed blue states and cities. The final bill, as I said, is $900 billion, which is half of what President Trump offered her in the fall and contains not a penny to bail out states or cities. This isn’t leadership on her part – this is incompetence compounded by raw self-seeking political power. You could have had your stimulus check for the holidays but for her. And she’s unapologetic about it. Even Scrooge faced up to and changed his erroneous way of doing business.

The third miracle is the distribution of the new vaccines. First Pfizer and now Moderna have been approved and the vaccines are shipped with much more on the way. Over 500,000 people have already been vaccinated and 8 million doses will be shipped by the end of the week. By the end of March 200 million doses from these two producers will be shipped. These vaccines require two doses given a few weeks apart so the number of people fully vaccinated is half these numbers, but humans have never, ever, produced and distributed a vaccine so fast and never on this scale. We still have a ways to go, but we are clearly on the path to escape this disease. In the meantime, wear your mask, socially distance when you can and use good hygiene.

Of course, the final miracle is the gift of the Christ child over 2,000 years ago. On a dark winter night in a cave with no warmth or comfort, He came into the world for us, the ultimate gift of love.

So, this pandemic Christmas, let’s love and take care of one another and remember what St. John wrote so long ago: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Merry Christmas!

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Byrne: The Electoral College

(Wikicommons, Pixabay, YHN)

When the members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 debated how to pick the executive, several options were considered. Some wanted the people to directly elect the president, while others distrusted the people to know enough about the candidates to make that important decision on their own. After all, the election would be held across the entire nation, and with the problems of communication in 18th century America, it would be difficult for individual citizens to know enough to make an informed decision about candidates who lived nowhere near them.

But the Framers wanted the voters to play a role, and they compromised by giving the decision to electors equaling the number of representatives and senators for each state and empowering the legislatures of the states, whose members were and are popularly elected, to select the manner of appointing those electors. So you and I don’t vote for the president directly. Our state’s electors do. While early on several state legislatures opted to pick the electors themselves, in modern times all state legislatures have voted to have their electors chosen by popular vote.

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This week, those electors met in their respective states and cast their votes. The press reports Vice President Joe Biden received 306 votes and President Trump, my candidate, received 232 votes. Press reports also indicate that in several states where the electors chose Biden, separate groups claimed to be the actual electors and voted for President Trump.

There has been a lot of discussion and dozens of audits, recounts, and lawsuits as to who were the legally chosen electors in those states. Despite the hype in the media that these efforts challenging the initial election calls in several states undermine our system, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 actually provides for a time period for such actions. Former Vice President Al Gore took advantage of this time period in 2000, challenging the election until mid-December. Democrats challenged the Ohio electors pledged to President Bush in 2004, and many Democrats fought through the counting of the vote before a joint session of Congress in 2017, when President Trump was elected. They even challenged the votes from Alabama. Democrats have normalized post general election fights over presidential results.

I supported the Trump team’s efforts to get a fair and accurate count of all legal votes. I joined in a “friend of the court” brief, along with 125 members of Congress, supporting the last-ditch effort by Texas and other states, including Alabama, to get the Supreme Court to look into the fact that in several states a person or group other than the state legislature modified election laws ostensibly to accommodate voters in the middle of a pandemic. Whatever the motivation for those modifications, they couldn’t be made by anyone other than the state legislatures; secretaries of state, state supreme courts, election commissions and even governors cannot do that under the Constitution. Rather than rule on the merits, the Court dismissed the case because, it said, the states didn’t have standing to bring the suit. None of President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees dissented.

The last step in the process, as spelled out by the Twelfth Amendment, is for the electors’ votes to be counted formally in a joint session of the new Congress on January 6, presided over by Vice President Pence. The Electoral Count Act allows one or more members of the House or Senate to object to a given state’s electors, but only if at least one member of the other house joins in the objection in writing. Then each house votes on the objection. Democrats tried that in 2000, 2004 and 2016 but failed.

My friend and colleague Mo Brooks from Huntsville has said he intends to object to the electoral votes of five states that voted for Biden, but he will have to convince a senator to join with him. So far, with only three weeks left, no senator or senator-elect has agreed to do so. The other hurdle he faces is a Democrat majority in the House that will not vote to take away Biden votes and at least ten Republican senators who have said Biden is the winner.

As I will no longer be a member of the House on January 6, I won’t be voting on any objection. But I will be a citizen and I believe it’s important for all of us to respect the system we follow in selecting a president, set in our Constitution and the Electoral Count Act. That system has served us well for over 200 years and will continue to do so. I will honor our system and our laws by accepting the election results as counted by Congress. I hope we all will.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

7 months ago

Byrne slams decision to close Spanish Fort post office — USPS officials ‘repeatedly breached the public trust and misled us’

(Wikicommons, YHN)

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Friday voiced his displeasure that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is following through on their plan to close the post office in Spanish Fort after months-long negotiations to keep it open.

P.O. box owners in the Spanish Fort office were given notice in September 2019 that the office’s closure was imminent. The building stayed open on a temporary basis over the last year as negotiations between local, federal and USPS officials continued.

“They have repeatedly breached the public trust and misled us,” said Byrne of USPS officials on Friday, alleging the post office executives told him “every effort would be made to keep the PO Boxes located in Spanish Fort.”

“We have now found out that USPS planned to move the boxes out of Spanish Fort all along,” Byrne claimed in a forceful statement.

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“For over a year, my office has attempted to work with USPS officials to ensure Spanish Fort – one of the fastest growing communities in Alabama – has access to PO Boxes and a contract postal unit in their community. We worked closely with Mayor McMillan and the city to convey the importance of this issue to USPS and forge a solution to meet the community’s needs,” Byrne explained.

A statement from city officials in Spanish Fort says the post office in question is now slated to close on January 15.

“Based on the demand for postal services and the population growth in the City of Spanish Fort and the surrounding areas, this is not acceptable,” the assemblage of local officials stated.

“While we are disappointed, we remain committed to working to get a full service post office for the people of Spanish Fort and will continue to press USPS on this important matter,” Byrne concluded.

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

8 months ago

7 Things: FDA approves the vaccine, Alabama congressmen join Texas’ lawsuit against battleground states, Jefferson County Health Officer could see powers limited and more …

(YHN)

7. Biden to leave his basement and head to Georgia

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has announced that he’ll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, to help campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.
  • This comes after President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the state this week to campaign for U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA).

6. Alabama is being sued

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  • There’s officially been a lawsuit filed against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections by the Department of Justice for prison conditions violating the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said they’ve “determined that Alabama violated and is continuing to violate the Constitution because its prisons are riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence. The violations have led to homicides, rapes, and serious injuries.”

5. No student information stolen in Huntsville City Schools cyber attack

  • The Huntsville City Schools has suffered a ransomware attack, but it has been announced that no student information was stolen, as announced by spokesman Craig Williams. It’s also been said the Chromebooks that K-8 graders use weren’t affected and will be returned to the students.
  • The released statement said that their “main area of focus is for Windows devices, which are used by high school students and teachers.” They will be replacing all teacher’s devices and inspecting high schooler’s devices.

4. Birmingham won’t defund police

  • Despite calls from some to defund police departments across the country, and some even calling for just that in Birmingham, Mayor Randall Woodfin has said that the city will not be defunding their police department because he doesn’t believe that is what people want actually want.
  • Woodfin said that there’s a greater “volume” of people calling for more police presence, not less. He also detailed that about 90% of the police department’s budget, which is $92 million, is for salaries. Woodfin said, “Unless you want me to fire police officers, we won’t be defunding police.”

3. Limiting Jefferson County Health Officer powers

  • A bill will be prefilled for the upcoming legislative session by State Representative David Wheeler (R-Vestavia Hills) that would look to limit the authority of the Jefferson County State Health Officer. Wheeler’s legislation would require that the health officer consult an advisory board before health mandates are issued.
  • The legislation would create a nine-member “Jefferson County Citizens Health Advisory Board” which would “provide recommendations to the Jefferson County Board of Health on general policies, direction, strategies, and the mission of the Jefferson County Board of health as the advisory board deems appropriate.”

2. Alabama congressmen join Texas lawsuit

  • As Texas continues to challenge the voting procedures in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania, there have now been 106 U.S. House Republicans who are seeking to delay the certification of the Electoral College votes.
  • U.S. Representatives Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) were some of those who signed the amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) is still in the process of formally joining the brief after a technical error left his name off.

1. Vaccine approved by FDA

  • The advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country (and the fourth country in the world to approve this specific vaccine). Alabama will have the vaccine next week, but there will be some issues.
  • There were four members of the committee that voted against approval, 17 that voted for it, and one member who abstained. The committee voted on whether the vaccine’s benefits “outweigh its risk for use in individuals 16 years of age and older.”

8 months ago

Four Alabama congressmen support Texas’ lawsuit against presidential swing states

(White House/Flickr)

Four Alabama congressmen are among a group of more than 100 U.S. House Republicans who are joining an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of the State of Texas in its lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of Georgia, State of Michigan and State of Wisconsin.

U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06) are already listed on the filing, and Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) is still in the process of formally joining the brief after a technical snafu inadvertently left off his name on Thursday.

“I’m proud to support this amicus brief filed with the United States supreme court to ensure the 2020 Presidential election was conducted fairly and without voter fraud,” stated Aderholt. “I signed onto the brief but a technical snafu in the sponsor’s office kept mine and several other members off the list. The sponsor is working to have my name and others officially added tomorrow. I support this lawsuit 100%. Our democracy depends on free, fair and accurate elections. That is the bedrock of our democracy.”

The lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to block the 2020 presidential election results in those swing states.

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President Donald. J. Trump has indicated he will be intervening in the lawsuit, calling it “the big one.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has reportedly accepted the president’s request to argue the case should SCOTUS agree to hear it.

The congressional GOP amicus argues non-legislative actors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan violated Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution when they changed election processes without the authority to do so.

Brooks said in a statement, “Reliable, honest and accurate elections are the bedrock of any functioning republic. Unfortunately, America’s republic has been badly undermined by officials who illegally violated the U.S. Constitution.”

Remainder of Brooks’ statement as follows:

The United States Constitution’s Election Clause unequivocally states that Congress is the supreme authority for prescribing the times, places, and manners for holding federal elections and that state legislatures are the only other Constitutional authority empowered to set election times, places, and manner of holding elections and, even then, only to the extent that legislatures do not pass laws that conflict with acts of Congress. Governors, secretaries of state, other election officials, state courts, federal courts, and private parties in various states blatantly usurp the power of Congress and state legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution, when they change election procedures both without legal authority and in ways inconsistent with laws passed by Congress or their own state legislatures. Election tallies resulting from these unconstitutional processes are invalid and are one of many reasons why I will object to certifying the Electoral College votes from these states. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Secretary of State (under the guise of illegally settling an election lawsuit) usurped legislative power by removing a lawfully required signature mandate. Further, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution when it illegally and unilaterally disregarded Pennsylvania statutes requiring that all mail-in ballots be received by 8:00 p.m. on election day. Similar instances invalidate Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan election results. Additional examples of illegal action by non-legislative actors in these states abound.

I and the other signers of this important amicus brief request that the Supreme Court uphold the unambiguous language of Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution and determine the constitutional validity of any ballots cast under rules and procedures established by actors or public bodies other than state legislatures. The 2020 presidential election must comply with the Constitution and the results must accurately reflect the will of the American people. For emphasis, while the Supreme Court’s ruling may bind the parties to the Texas legislation and may be of persuasive influence in Congress, the Supreme Court’s ruling in no way, shape or form mitigates the finality of Congress’s verdict on who wins the election contest between former Vice-President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

Palmer was listed second on the amicus brief, directly ahead of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). As chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, Palmer is the fifth-highest ranking Republican in the chamber.

The congressional brief came after Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall joined a separate amicus filing in support of Texas’ lawsuit.

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

8 months ago

House passes Byrne’s bill to rename Fairhope post office after longtime U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards

(WKRG/Twitter)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday a bill to rename a Baldwin County post office after former Alabama Congressman Jack Edwards.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) sponsored the legislation renaming the building, and all six other members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation signed on as cosponsors.

Edwards represented the southwest Alabama seat Byrne currently occupies from 1965 through 1985.

“Jack Edwards is one of Alabama’s greatest public servants whose leadership in Washington and Alabama left an indelible mark,” Byrne said in a statement Thursday.

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The post office at 509 Fairhope Avenue in Fairhope will now be named the William “Jack” Jackson Edwards III Post Office Building if Byrne’s bill passes the U.S. Senate and is signed by President Donald Trump, both hurdles it will in all likelihood clear.

Edwards resided in Fairhope in his later years after retiring from Congress.

A Republican swept into office the year of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy, Edwards died in September 2019. He was remembered fondly by Alabama politicians of both parties at the time of his passing.

“I thank my colleagues – many who remember Jack fondly for his service and remarkable accomplishments – for supporting my bill to bestow this honor to Jack’s memory. I appreciate Senator Shelby and Senator Jones for their help to now push the bill through the Senate and hopefully on to President Trump for his signature,” Byrne added in a release.

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

8 months ago

7 Things: Mask order extended, Alabama will have coronavirus vaccine next week, Marshall officially joins election lawsuit and more …

(YHN)

7. Baldwin County gives all teachers $1,000 bonus

  • All full-time employees of Baldwin County Schools will receive an additional $1,000 from taxpayer funds on December 18. However, Superintendent Eddie Tyler will not receive the bonus payment.
  • In a letter announcing the payment, Tyler said, “I have said over and over how much I appreciate each and every one of you. What you do for this system and the more than 30,000 children we care for, is a monumental task each year. This last year has been well beyond anything anyone could ask of you. While I would like to celebrate the closing of 2020, I fully expect the next year is going to be much of the same.”

6. Byrne optimistic for the future

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  • U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) has delivered his farewell speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, and he spoke of how optimistic he is about the future of the country. The speech also mentioned the current “division” in the country.
  • Byrne stated, “Division in our country is the greatest internal threat we’ve got … because there is nothing that this great nation can’t accomplish when we are united.”

5. Visitors being limited in North Alabama

  • Huntsville Hospital has announced that they’ll now be limiting who can visit those staying at the hospital to “only essential designated caregivers” for those who aren’t coronavirus patients. This is being done due to the increase in coronavirus cases in the area and state.
  • There are still no visitors allowed for those who are hospitalized with the coronavirus, “except in special circumstances such as end-of-life care.” This change in policy is for Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital.

4. Hunter Biden under investigation

  • The son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, is being investigated by the FBI for his business dealings and his financial records, as it’s been reported that the FBI is now working with the IRS Criminal Investigation agency. Joe Biden’s transition team released a statement that the elder Biden is “is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
  • Hunter Biden has said that he’s aware of the investigation, but he’s “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”

3. Marshall supporting the Texas lawsuit

  • After Texas filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, 17 state attorney generals, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, have joined an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit.
  • President Donald Trump has expressed his intention to get involved in the lawsuit, calling this “the big one.” The goal of the lawsuit is to move the election in these states to their legislatures.

2. Vaccine should be here early next week

  • Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is expecting to be able to start distributing some of the coronavirus vaccines next week, adding that they “do have some cause for optimism with the rollout of the vaccine.”
  • Harris said that the vaccine should be arriving in the state “early next week.” Alabama will receive 40,950 doses of the vaccine, which will first be sent to “about 15” hospitals across the state.

1. Mask mandate extended

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that the “Safer-At-Home” emergency health order for the state has been extended until at least January 22, 2021, which will also extend the statewide mask mandate. There were no other changes made to the order.
  • According to recent polling by ALDailyNews, 63.3% of people approve of the mask mandate. Ivey has indicated that she won’t keep the mandate in place for much longer, but it’s also somewhat expected that it could remain close to when a vaccine is widely available.

8 months ago

Byrne, in farewell address to Congress, says he has ‘hope and optimism’ about the future of America

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Screenshot/Youtube)

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) gave his farewell speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, during which he displayed a continued exuberance for the American project in the face of the bitter divides currently afflicting the nation.

The speech caps Byrne’s seven years representing Alabama’s First Congressional District in the nation’s lower chamber. He won a special election in 2013 to represent the district following the departure of Rep. Jo Bonner.

Byrne chose to mount a campaign for the U.S. Senate instead of running for reelection in the House, ultimately losing out on the Republican nomination to now Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.

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Replacing Byrne as southwest Alabama’s representative in the House will be U.S. Rep.-elect Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), a former county commissioner who will take office in January.

“Rep. Byrne has served Alabama’s first congressional district with a tenacity that is matched by few. I know that I have big shoes to fill, and I look forward to continuing his legacy of fighting for the people of south Alabama,” wrote Carl in a Facebook post.

Byrne’s endorsement of Carl late in the heated AL-01 primary was viewed as crucial to the Carl campaign’s ultimate victory.

“I think if the people of America knew their history better, they would be more hopeful, they would be more optimistic,” Byrne said Wednesday, citing the multitudinous nature of America’s accomplishments and progress towards its ideals in its ultimately brief time as a nation.

“Division in our country is the greatest internal threat we’ve got, and I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, it’s the greatest threat of all, because there is nothing that this great nation can’t accomplish when we are united, when we are e pluribus unum, one out of many,” he continued.

“That is who America is, that’s who the American people want us to be, and that’s the great challenge before this House,” Byrne stated.

Near the end of his remarks, Byrne thanked his wife, Rebecca, for being by his side over their last 40 years of marriage, especially the last seven particularly demanding years in national politics.

“In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, may God bless the United States of America,” Byrne finished.

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

Byrne: The good, the bad and the ugly in the new jobs report

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report covering November. It contained some good news, some bad news and some downright ugly news.

First, let’s look at the good news. The economy added 245,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% from a high of 14.7% in April. We have gained back 12.3 million jobs since the shutdowns of last spring, and the unemployment rate is less than half what it had risen to at that time. Over half of all black people who lost their jobs have gone back to work as have two thirds of Hispanics. The greatest gains have come in the leisure and hospitality industry and in retail businesses, the hardest hit by the shutdowns.

To put this into perspective, the unemployment rate is now lower than at any point in President Obama’s first term and the gains made in the last seven months are greater than in the first four years of the recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2009

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That’s pretty good news, no matter how you look at it. So, what am I referring to when I talk about there being some bad news too? The rate at which we are gaining jobs has fallen significantly. Job growth in September (711,000) and October (610,000) was more than twice as large as November’s. Our bounce back has really slowed.

What’s happened? To some extent we are witnessing the holes left in the American economy. Some places are doing better than others and some industries are still struggling to come back while others are doing well. For example, we know that Blue states have significantly higher unemployment rates than most red states, the result of the differences in state leaders’ responses to the pandemic. New York’s unemployment rate in October was 9.6%, while Alabama’s was 5.8%. Similarly, while the leisure and hospitality sector has made a comeback of sorts, it faces the strong headwinds of travel and dining restrictions ordered by many mayors and governors around the country. So, it lags the rest of the economy and will continue to do so until these restrictions are lifted. There are still 9.8 million fewer jobs than in February and every city, state and industry sector needs to return to normal for us to gain those jobs back.

That’s pretty bad news, but at least it has the prospects of improving next year. The really ugly news was the labor force participation rate. This is an example of statistics needing more in-depth explanation. The labor force is the total of all people who have jobs and all people looking for jobs. It doesn’t include adults 65 and under who aren’t working or looking for work. Now, some people aren’t working or looking for work because they’re in school or are substantially disabled, while others are caring for young children or an aging parent. Then there are the lucky ones who don’t need to work. So, we never expect the labor force participation rate to be 100%.

The peak labor force participation rate was 67% at the beginning of 2000. During the Great Recession, when jobs were scarce, people became discouraged and just quit looking for work. By 2015, the labor force participation rate had fallen to 62%. As a result of the robust recovery of the last four years it rose again to 64.4%. These may seem like small changes, but each percentage point represents millions of people. So, when I tell you the labor force participation rate in November was just 61.5% you can see why I call this ugly. While that is an improvement from April’s 60% rate, we still saw 400,000 people leave the job market in November alone. It’s very difficult to re-enter the job market once you have left so this is a very troubling development.

There are three things we need to do as a nation to turn this around.

First, mayors and governors around the nation need to be more discerning and judicious in their orders responding to the pandemic. Overly broad and heavy-handed orders are hurting people in their cities and states and are a major drag on the U.S. economy. Governor Ivey has been a good example of how to get it right and as a result our Alabama economy is faring better than most Blue states.

Second, we must speed the vaccine distribution and people should have the confidence in the FDA’s approval and get the vaccine when it’s available to them. The quicker we reach a high vaccination rate, the quicker our economy bounces back. In the meantime, we all need to wear masks inside buildings that aren’t our homes, practice good hygiene and socially distance.

And, third, Congress needs to pass another coronavirus stimulus bill. After playing games this summer and fall, Speaker Pelosi has finally come to the bargaining table with what appears to be a sincere willingness to compromise on a new bill. I anticipate passage of such a bill, perhaps as part of our yearly spending bill, by Christmas. She’s perfectly capable of pulling the ball back at the last minute so I can’t guarantee anything. But there’s some hope out there.

And hope is something we all need right now.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

8 months ago

State Rep. Joe Faust in ICU with the coronavirus

(Rep. Joe Faust/Contributed)

Alabama State Rep. Joe Faust (R-Fairhope) is in the intensive care unit at Thomas Hospital with a case of COVID-19, local TV station WKRG reported late Monday.

Faust, 80, was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2004.

He told WRKG he was getting good treatment from the medical staff at the hospital, and the station’s reporter said he “sounded like he was doing well.”

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Faust represents Alabama House District 94, which encompasses the Baldwin County towns of Fairhope, Point Clear, Summerdale and the northern edge of Foley.

“I ask that you join me in saying a prayer for State Representative Joe Faust from Fairhope as he battles the coronavirus. We are praying for you, Joe!” tweeted U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Monday in response to the news.

Byrne’s congressional district covers the same area as Faust’s state-level district, and the two men served in the Alabama legislature at the same time for a brief period during the early 2000s.

U.S. Rep.-elect Jerry Carl, who will succeed Byrne in Congress in January, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday, “Please let’s all pray for the swift recovery of Rep. Joe Faust.”

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

Byrne: A timely victory for the right to freely exercise our faith

(B. Byrne/Facebook, Wikicommons)

On the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling which is a very positive signal for the rights of people of faith to freely exercise that faith. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had issued a “Cluster Initiative” which used color coded restrictions on large gatherings in certain parts of New York City. These restrictions were challenged in court by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Jewish synagogues as an invalid restriction on citizens’ rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The Supreme Court issued an injunction against applying Governor Cuomo’s order to gatherings at houses of worship. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a scathing concurring opinion in which he said “there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutters churches, synagogues and mosques.”

Much of the press focused on the fact that this was the first case in which Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s vote was necessary to achieve a majority because Chief Justice Roberts joined with the dissenters as he believed the ruling was premature. His decision was unsurprising as he had voted with the liberals on the Court against acting on earlier COVID restrictions. It was also in keeping with his preference to avoid judicial intervention in matters which he doesn’t consider to be procedurally ripe. I have great respect for Justice Roberts but disagree with his decision in this case and am glad the majority saw fit to issue the injunction.

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When President Trump nominated Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett, liberals and their news media allies howled that these new justices’ presence on the Court would provide the votes to strike down the Affordable Care Act and reverse Roe v. Wade. I never bought that line and it appears from oral arguments in the Affordable Care Act case presently before the Court that there is not a majority to do the former.

I did believe that these two new justices, along with other Republican nominated justices, would take a much broader view of the Free Exercise Clause and a much narrower view of the statutory authorization for government regulation. This new case confirms that the Court has indeed adopted an expanded application of the Free Exercise Clause.

Why is this so timely and so important? America’s cultural elites have adopted a hostility to faith, people of faith and people acting out their faith. They used to be willing to let people do as they pleased in their houses of worship while jumping at the chance to criticize and restrict them if they actually attempted to exercise their beliefs outside of worship. Governor Cuomo’s order, and those of many other Democrat governors and mayors, demonstrate that the elites now want to regulate what happens inside houses of worship.

The First Amendment, like the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, was passed by the First Congress in 1789 and the states ratified them in 1791. Passage of these amendments was demanded by several of the states in the ratification conventions on the original Constitution. These amendments comprise fundamental law, conferring primary rights on the people of this nation.

As to religion the First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It was applied to state and local governments in the 20th century by courts invoking the Fourteenth Amendment.

The first clause, known as the Establishment Clause, was intended as a prohibition on a government established church as the Church of England was at the time of the Revolution and is today. That clause has been expanded judicially to prohibit any government action favoring a particular religious view.

Until recently, the Free Exercise Clause has been rarely invoked. But actions by state and local governments in more recent times to control people of faith in their efforts to live out their faith have made the Free Exercise Clause a new judicial battleground, and this new majority on the Supreme Court has arrived just in time to deliver last week’s important opinion. I predict more decisions in the future applying the clause to inappropriate government action.

Note the use of the word “exercise.” It denotes action and not just belief. That First Congress was acutely aware of the limitations on worship and action by the British government on behalf of the Church of England. Indeed, many of their ancestors fled to America to escape government dictates on religion. They also knew the ugly history of the Puritan Protectorate government in 17th century England which tried to limit all sorts of conduct – even celebrating Christmas. Congress and the ratifying states made it clear in the Free Exercise Clause that government in this country has no such power.

As I have seen in the Congresses I have served in over the last several years, many members have lost that understanding. Indeed, they have attempted to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which passed with near unanimity in the 1990s. They see religious rights as secondary, not primary. Governor Cuomo and his Democrat colleagues in state houses and mayors’ offices around the U.S. do too.

Now, the new majority on the Supreme Court has stepped up to stop the slide away from religious freedom. It’s about time, and I trust they will continue to do so.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Byrne: A national compact

(Wikicommons, Pixabay, YHN)

Four hundred years ago this month, a group of just over 100 people arrived off the shores of Cape Cod after a two-month sail from England. They were dissenters from the Church of England like the Puritans but went further by formally separating from the established church they considered to be corrupt beyond repair. We call them “Pilgrims,” although there is only one instance when any one of them used that word to describe themselves. That person was William Bradford, the longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony, who borrowed the word from the 11th Chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

Their arrival that November was not the occasion of the first Thanksgiving. That came the next year when they had built their homes and brought in their first harvest. In fact, they spent their first few months in a harsh winter still on their ship, the Mayflower, while their settlement was built.

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Their original destination wasn’t Plymouth but the mouth of the Hudson River where New York City is today, then the northern part of the Virginia Colony, but they were weary after a long journey, running low on provisions and determined to begin the long work of establishing their new home. That meant they weren’t on land covered by Virginia’s royal charter and so there were no colonial government or laws. Some on the ship weren’t separatists like the Pilgrims, remaining true to the Church of England, and talked about “using their own liberty.” These “Strangers,” as the Pilgrims called them, thus threatened the order of the new community.

So, before they landed, all of the adult male settlers on the ships, Pilgrim and stranger, reached an agreement we know as the Mayflower Compact under which they organized themselves as a “Civil Body Politic” by which they could “frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony.” They weren’t declaring independence from England but laid out a basis for people to govern themselves in America. Their example was an inspiration for those who 150 years later would indeed seek independence to form a new American nation with a government based on the consent of the people.

The Compact was also firmly based on the settlers’ religious beliefs. It begins with the words “In the Name of God, Amen”, and states frankly that their voyage to America was “undertaken for the Glory of God, and the Advancement of the Christian Faith.” Yet, as they differed on exactly what their faith meant, they established not a theocracy but a civil government based on the laws made by the settlers themselves. Their settlement was risky, and their path filled with hard work, privation and danger, but their faith sustained them. That faith would indeed inspire them to hold a three-day time of thanksgiving a year later after a successful harvest.

Perhaps, in this time of political polarization, we should renew our compact with each other as members of a great nation. Understanding our differences, we can yet agree to work with each other through those differences and achieve a successful consensus based upon shared principles and the value of sacrifice and hard work. As President Lincoln observed, we are the last best hope of earth, a nation founded by and beholden to the people. We should, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” In the name of God, Amen.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

8 months ago

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne: Timeframe on I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge ‘not unlimited’ — State, local leaders ‘need to do it in the next several months to a year’

Bradley-Byrne-House

Last week, state and local officials in the Mobile and Baldwin County areas had reportedly resumed discussions about a new I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge.

A now-infamous proposal came to a halt last year after the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to remove the bridge from the organization’s Transportation Improvement Program, which resulted in Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) calling it off.

Questions remain about the future. However, according to U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), the clock is ticking if the state wants to use available federal money.

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During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Byrne, who has a little over a month remaining in office until U.S. Rep.-elect Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) is sworn in, said it was up to state and local leaders to agree on how to proceed because the federal component had already been settled.

“The real center of gravity here is with local leaders and state leaders,” he said. “It’s really not federal leaders. Jerry Carl doesn’t have to worry about that money that’s been put out there going away in the next couple of years. It’s still going to be there. This is really off federal government, and really on state and local government.”

“It won’t be there forever,” Byrne added. “Now, it might be enhanced if we get some big infrastructure bill comes out in the next year or so. I still think the onus with coming up with most of the money has got to be on the state and local governments here. The state has a lot of money that it gets from the federal government every year from the national highway fund. And it could bond money. You know, I’ve been saying we should bond some of this [Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds] to do it, etc. There is a way to set all this together and make it work. The federal end is done, ready to go. There is state money that can be used for it, that comes from the federal government, including GOMESA money, and there’s a way to put it all together. But it is going to require these local leaders, the new local leaders, working with the governor.”

Byrne urged local and state officials to put a proposal forth within the next year.

“Our timeframe is not unlimited here,” he said. “If they’re going to do something, they need to do it in the next several months to a year — come up with a plan that’s approved, etc. I think the U.S. Department of Transportation will help them to find some way to make this happen because one thing we have accomplished — we’ve got the Department of Transportation, going back to the Obama administration — so it’s not a Democrat or Republican thing — the Department of Transportation has said this is critical for the United States of America. So, we’re teed up with the federal government. We’ve just got to get the state and locals together.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

Byrne: Much to do

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, Pixabay, YHN)

Congress returns to Washington this week after a six-week hiatus for the election. Since the end of July, we have only met for a few weeks, and the work we need to complete has piled up. This Congress ends at noon on Sunday, January 3 when the new Congress will be sworn in and start all over again as any bills pending from the old Congress die. Let’s look at what needs to be done between now and then.

Every year since the Kennedy administration, Congress passes a National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which authorizes the operations of the U.S. military and our national defense, an obligation of Congress under Article One of the Constitution. This year’s bill passed out of the House Armed Services Committee on which I sit by a unanimous vote and out of the full House by a huge bipartisan vote. A Conference Committee will iron out our differences with the Senate bill, and I hope we will vote on the Committee’s report in the next few weeks. The NDAA is one of the few examples this Congress when we have come together to meet our constitutional duties.

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I also anticipate that we will vote on the Water Resources Development Act, another bill we regularly pass and which authorizes much of what the Corps of Engineers does for navigation, flood protection and the like.

But the big two are the funding of the government and a new COVID bill.

Back in September, Congress passed a bill continuing government spending for the fiscal year that began on October 1 but using the numbers from the previous year. I wasn’t present for the vote on the bill as I was in the district working on our response to Hurricane Sally. Had I been there, I would have voted against it because these continuing resolutions are punts as we fail to meet our constitutional requirement to fund the government. That bill only runs through December 11, however, and there will be substantial pressure to pass something funding the government beyond that date.

This has been a source of failure in the past. You may remember it happened at the end of 2017. Will we produce an actual appropriations bill or will we pass another continuing resolution taking us into 2021 and the new Congress? Or, will we have a shutdown? The appropriations process, like virtually every other legislative endeavor this Congress, is badly broken because Speaker Pelosi refuses to let it work. There is little effort to work across the aisle or the Capitol, despite good people on both sides and both houses being involved, as the speaker insists on calling the shots and bypassing the capable leadership on the Appropriations Committee.

I am pessimistic that we can get a true appropriations bill this Congress and anticipate another continuing resolution will be proposed on or shortly before December 11. The question is whether that will pass and whether President Trump would sign it if it does. It’s likely to go down to the wire that week.

And the outlook for another COVID response bill this Congress looks even worse. You would think that with the elections out of the way, and having suffered significant election losses among her membership, the speaker would settle into serious negotiations. Not so. In fact, after pushing a $2 trillion bill this summer and fall even as the Senate told her that figure was far too high, she has now come back post-election with a bill for spending over $3 trillion. She is effectively expecting Senator McConnell and the Republican Senate, which seems to be retaining their majority, to bid against themselves. I don’t know what about Senator McConnell’s leadership of the Senate these last six years would give anyone the thought he would cave into that.

Indeed, the speaker’s COVID proposal is really just her way of postponing the discussion until after Inauguration Day when she expects to have a President Biden to help her instead of President Trump. Once again, her goal is less about helping the American people and more about her own power. Here we are at the beginning of the worst part of the year for viral diseases and she is punting the passage of a much-needed bill for at least two more months.

I hope I’m wrong about the speaker’s posture on these bills, but her performance as speaker so far has been depressingly consistent. When the choice is between the needs of the country and her own power, she always chooses the latter.

We have much to do this Congress and not much time to do it. I wish we’d break the mold of this Congress, learn from the election results and actually do the jobs we are required to do under the Constitution. It just doesn’t look like the speaker wants us to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

8 months ago

Byrne gives congressional records to University of South Alabama

(Rep. Bradley Byrne/Twitter)

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Thursday donated his congressional records to the University of South Alabama (USA), a public university in Mobile with around 15,000 students.

Byrne made the announcement during a ceremony held at the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The last four congressmen from Alabama’s First Congressional District have all donated their records to the university, beginning with Rep. Jack Edwards and continuing with Reps. Callahan, Bonner and now Byrne. Collectively, their tenures covered have covered 56 years.

“It was an honor to keep the tradition going!” tweeted Byrne on Thursday.

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Dr. Tony Waldrop, USA president, said Thursday, “We are fortunate and thankful that more than five decades of leadership from the 1st Congressional District have chosen South to hold the documents of their time in office.”

Byrne was first elected to his seat in 2013 and mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate instead of seeking reelection in 2020. The district he represented is in the Southwest corner of Alabama, and its population is dominated by residents of Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

“Our region has experienced numerous momentous events during my tenure in Congress,” remarked Byrne in a release, adding, “I hope adding my records to this historic collection will expand an already valuable resource to allow for research and study for many years to come.”

Thanks to modern technology, Byrne’s donation will be different from his predecessors.

“The Byrne Papers are McCall Library’s first born-digital congressional collection, presenting new challenges and opportunities for preservation, access, study, and research,” noted E. Lorene Flanders, executive director of libraries at USA.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives, a congressman’s papers may include “campaign files; newspaper and magazine clippings; correspondence; invitations; bill files; briefing books; staff files; memorabilia; newsletters; personal files of the Member; photographs; political files; press files; publications; reference files; scrapbooks; speech files; district files; and voting records.

“We extend our sincere thanks to Congressman Byrne and his staff for making this donation possible,” Flanders concluded.

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

Byrne: What America said

(Bradley Byrne/Facebook, YHN)

Election Day has come and gone. Despite the fact that multiple national news sites have “called” the presidential election, court cases and recounts are going forward in several states where the margin is less than 1%, and we don’t yet “know” who was elected president. By federal law, all election disputes must be resolved by December 8 and presidential electors must meet and cast their votes for president on December 14. The ballots will be counted in Congress on January 6. These are the key dates when we will “know” who will become president on Inauguration Day, January 20. So, let’s not jump to a conclusion about who won this very close presidential election just yet.

But, we already know some important things about America from the votes last week.

Perhaps the most important thing we witnessed was a free and open democracy working. We take for granted our system for choosing our leaders, but if you look around the world, we shouldn’t. Even in a very politically divided nation, we held peaceful elections, and even where there are election disputes, we have legal processes for resolving them. For the most part, things have been handled peacefully, except in a few places like Oregon where they apparently don’t need an excuse to riot.

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And, while we are divided for sure, there are some things we have agreement on. Despite the now predictable assurances from media “analysts” and other so-called “experts,” there was no blue wave, no generational realignment of our body politic. The media discovered what the rest of us knew: America is not a left-leaning nation. And demographics aren’t destiny. That’s why an increasing proportion of blacks and Hispanics are voting their relatively conservative beliefs. As a nation, we don’t want a Green New Deal, Medicare for All or defunded law enforcement agencies. We aren’t socialists or even socialist leaning.

The elections for the two houses of Congress showed a narrowing majority in each. With two special elections for Senate pending in Georgia on January 5, it looks likely that Republicans will hold a very narrow majority in the upper body. That alone guarantees that tax increases, court packing, climate change, government ordered health care, and other far left proposals of a potential Biden-Harris administration would go nowhere, an accurate reflection of the national mood.

In the House, the Democrats apparently held their majority, but it will be much reduced as Republicans flipped as many as 15 seats and have net gains of 8 to 12. During a post-election conference call last week with her members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that the shrunken Democrat conference had a “mandate” even as Democrats on the call excoriated their party’s policies and messages of the last two years. Don’t let the national media fool you. This isn’t a struggle between moderate Democrats and liberals because there aren’t any moderate Democrats left in Congress after this year’s primaries. This is a fight between liberals and socialists, the two groups that now make up congressional Democrats.

The Republican side is a very different story. Though disappointed that we didn’t retake the majority, we are heartened by our gains and believe we will succeed in the 2022 midterms. Many governorships and state houses were also elected last week, and they will reapportion their states next year with the census numbers from this year, thus determining the makeup of House districts for a decade. Even though President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, spent enormous amounts of money to get Democrat control of these state houses nationally, his effort failed and Republicans will be in control of states with far more House seats than the Democrats will. By Election Day 2022, the map for House elections will be more favorable to Republican candidates than was the case last week. That blue wave is actually a firmly rising red sea in the House.

I woke up the day after the election both pleased and disappointed. I wish Republicans had taken the House and had a larger majority in the Senate. And I truly wish we had a clear victory for President Trump, who may still win in the states with recounts and lawsuits. But, America once again proved the experts wrong by saying loudly who we are and who we aren’t.

We aren’t socialists or even liberals. We don’t want massive change to our Republic. We won’t let gender, race, religion or any other demographic category define us, because we are a people free to decide for ourselves what we believe and who we will vote for. We have spoken as a people and we don’t need the news media and entertainment industry to act as if they speak for us.

And it’s the job of those who are elected to listen to the people of this country and not the out of touch elites on TV and the internet. Once again, they were wrong. By their votes the people of America said so.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

Byrne: After the election — One nation under God

(Wikicommons, Pixabay, YHN)

I’ll never forget sitting in the U.S. House Chamber in January of 2017 watching the counting of the Electoral College votes from the 2016 presidential election. Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the sitting vice president opens and counts the votes as submitted and certified by the electors chosen from each state, and the vice president must do so “in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives.” Because Inauguration Day was still several days away, the sitting vice president was Joe Biden, and as a member of the House, I was entitled to be there.

Procedurally, any representative or senator can object to any state’s electoral college votes but at least one member from the other house must agree with the objection before it can be considered. Alabama was the first state up, and Jim McGovern, a very liberal Democrat member from Massachusetts who served on the Rules Committee with me, stood up and objected because the Russians supposedly interfered with our vote for Donald Trump. He also made a blatantly false allegation that our state violated the Voting Rights Act and suppressed thousands of votes. No senator agreed with him and Vice President Biden ruled the objections out of order, which kept me from having to argue against McGovern’s silly and frankly slanderous objections.

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The count went on and as every Trump state’s votes came up, a Democrat House member would stand up and object but because no senator agreed with the objections, Biden would rule them out of order. Finally, after several of these, Biden leaned into the microphone and said firmly to his fellow Democrats, “it’s over.” Though they hated the result, he was saying, the Constitution calls for the person with the most electoral votes to be president. And that person was Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton.

This has been an extraordinary year, with the pandemic, a record economic downturn and recovery, riots and violence, and an unprecedented number of hurricanes. It will be an extraordinary election too, as record numbers of people have already voted in many states, but their votes can’t be counted until election day and many of those states’ election processes require days to count all those votes. There will also be challenges to the counting of some, perhaps many, ballots because they weren’t filled in or submitted properly. So, we aren’t likely to know the result on Election Day.

We didn’t know the result of the 2000 election until December, weeks after the election, and that took an extraordinary decision by the Supreme Court to resolve it in favor of George W. Bush. The 12th Amendment was passed and ratified because the 1800 presidential election resulted in an electoral college tie between Thomas Jefferson and his supposed running mate Aaron Burr. That threw the election into the House of Representatives which took 36 ballots to finally make Jefferson the president, three months after the election. In both cases, the nation moved on and accomplished great things.

Though this year’s election isn’t likely to be over as quickly as we are used to, all of us should be patient and trust in our Constitution and the institutions which have served us so well for over 230 years. There will be plenty of eyes on the process and nothing inappropriate is going to go unnoticed. Our intelligence and law enforcement communities have been closely monitoring foreign actors and will continue to do so after the election. Be careful of the information you receive during and after the election because we know there’s a lot of truly fake “news” out there, designed to divide us as a nation.

And when we have a result, if your candidate doesn’t win, let’s not have a replay of 2016 when Democrats refused to accept the result, who wouldn’t let it be “over” and shamefully called themselves the “resistance,” a slap in the face of the Constitution and our tradition of peaceful transfer of power. We’ve wasted too much time in Washington over the Mueller report and a failed impeachment effort, attempting to reverse the 2016 election. And we’ve had too much violence this year – we don’t need more due to the election.

If your candidate loses, the appropriate response is to be the loyal opposition – loyal to our nation and its Constitution but opposed to the policies of the victorious party. Remember, in American politics, today’s loser is often tomorrow’s winner.

Our greatest enemy isn’t a foreign nation but our internal division, driven by a hyper-partisan news media and entertainment industry ready to exploit every fault line in our country and craven before the far worse fault lines of countries where that industry makes a lot of money. Let’s ignore the media and entertainment industry and return to what we learned in school about the traditional values which make us great.

As a unified nation, there is nothing we can’t do, no problem or issue we can’t solve. We are one nation under God. Let’s keep it that way.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.