The Wire

  • Man shot and killed at Birmingham gas station

    Excerpt from WVTM:

    The Birmingham Police Department is investigating a shooting that left one man dead at a gas station early Monday morning.

    Officers were called to the 1800 block of Bessemer Rd. at about 3 a.m. on reports of a person shot. When they arrived they found one man dead. The victim was later identified as 30-year-old Denorris Rishard Barnes.

    Police on the scene said three men were at the gas station changing a tire when someone drove up and fired several rounds of gunshots. Barnes was fatally shot. The other two were uninjured. The suspect fled the scene before police arrived.

  • Failure to wear seat belt lands man in jail on heroin, hydrocodone trafficking charges

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    A Center Point man stopped for not wearing his seat belt ended up in a lot more trouble.

    Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies on Thursday afternoon stopped 36-year-old Anthony Ray Jenkins on Center Point Parkway. As they spoke with him, they spotted a prescription pill bottle on the floor of the car, said Chief Deputy Randy Christian.

    They asked him about it, and he said the pills belonged to his aunt and that she must have left the bottle there. Inspection of the bottle, however, showed the name had been scratched off. Deputies then called Jenkins’ aunt, who told them she had not left any medication in his car.

  • “Human error” to blame after passengers stranded on plane at Mobile Regional Airport

    Excerpt from Fox 10:

    A lot of people are not happy tonight after they were stuck inside a plane at Mobile Regional Airport. We’re told that’s because American Airlines workers had already gone home for the night. For safety reasons, the passengers weren’t allowed to leave the plane without those workers.

    FOX10 News Reporter Devan Coffaro got to the bottom of what happened.

    “Honestly, it’s unacceptable,” said Grant Turner, who was one of the passengers on the plane.

3 days ago

DC favoritism could jeopardize 600 Alabama jobs — Senate defense bill could favor Elon Musk’s SpaceX over Decatur rocket-builder ULA

(AF, ULA)

Remember the days of high school and the social hierarchy of the lunchroom that was a part of everyday life? It was a pecking order that could vary depending on the school, but at the top of this social construct was what is known as the “cool kids table.”

Modern-day Washington, D.C. is a lot like the high school cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying to be one of these so-called cool kids. Instead of lunchroom table placement, some people in our nation’s capital strive to get invited to the right parties, be seen on TV, make print headlines and be associated with the certain “cool kids.”

As the saying goes, “It isn’t what you know, but who you know.”

The “who” in this equation isn’t of Washington, D.C., but of Los Angeles’ chic Bel Air neighborhood. SpaceX’s Elon Musk is that guy.

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The Cool Kid

Musk made a name for himself for his roles in creating Zip2, PayPal, Solar City, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.  He has also capitalized on this DC social status. According to a 2015 Los Angeles Times article, Musk has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in government subsidies to aid in the development and manufacturing of the necessities for a cleaner and greener future — solar panels, batteries, electric cars, etc.

In 2002, Musk added space transit to his portfolio of ventures with the launch of SpaceX. And much like many of his other undertakings, he has leaned heavily on the federal government to finance his space exploits.

Sixteen years since launching SpaceX, Musk is making a play to take some of the federal government’s business away from other manufacturers, including Decatur, Ala.-based rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Playing the Washington Game

Musk has convinced some in Washington that the product ULA offers is too expensive and that his SpaceX is a company that can do it much cheaper. One who has bought into Musk and what he is trying sell is Senate Armed Service Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

As Todd Stacy pointed out in a piece for Alabama News Daily earlier this week, despite McCain’s absence to receive treatment for brain cancer, many of his staffers remain involved in the process and are working to ensure language is in the National Defense Authorization Act that would favor SpaceX.

McCain is not the only member of Congress that Musk has won over on SpaceX. Unlike many of his current-day Silicon Valley counterparts, the billionaire entrepreneur has been bipartisan with his campaign contributions, as shown by the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org.

On the Democratic side, Musk has invested his campaign dollars all around, especially in ideologues that profess a liberal point-of-view. However, on the Republican side, he has conspicuously been more targetted with his money.

Musk has given to members that could help with his business ventures, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), former chairman of the House Science Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and as mentioned earlier, John McCain.

Still waiting on SpaceX to live up to expectations

While Musk is being judicious with money and placing bets where it benefits his interests, Musk’s SpaceX is a risky bet.

Part of SpaceX’s plan to offer launches at a lower cost involves reusing rockets. That’s not exactly a new concept, but given the wear and tear of a launch getting multiples uses from a payload to space could be costly in the long run, and that is cause for skepticism.

Musk has staked his claim on this idea, going back as far as 2007. More than a decade later, the federal government has invested at least $3.5 billion in Musk’s SpaceX according to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

Moreover, the Falcon 9, the rocket used by SpaceX for much of its government work and touted as cost-effective because Musk had claimed it could be relaunched 10 to 20 times has only been reused once to date.

While SpaceX has had some success, there have also been some spectacular crashes.

For those reasons, SpaceX is not just a threat to taxpayer dollars but public safety as well — as pointed out by a NASA watchdog group last month.

The Coming Fight

As the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is making its way through the Senate, there’s an effort underway to give SpaceX an edge over ULA.

Language buried deep within one of the drafts of the NDAA that the Senate is considering would shift who at the Pentagon is the vanguard on U.S. space policy. Currently, NASA administrator Mike Griffin is one of the Pentagon’s top officials that holds a critical post. In the past, Griffin has recognized the risk that SpaceX poses and has preferred ULA.

The NDAA language would strip Griffin’s post of these duties and give them to the Pentagon’s Chief Management Officer, a position currently held by John H. “Jay” Gibson II.

Gibson, as ADN’s Stacy has also pointed out, is a critic of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and could hold a grudge against ULA because it didn’t select his former company XCOR for an engine development contract.

ULA: 100 Percent Success Rate Backed by Alabamians

On the other hand, Decatur’s ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has been a reliable and steady hand in America’s space endeavors of the new millennium. It has a track record beginning in 2006 with more than 120 consecutive launches, a 100 percent mission success rate and has placed $70 billion of assets in orbit over the Earth.

For Alabama, ULA has employed more than 600 and last year had an estimated economic impact of $285 million on the state.

For those reasons, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) made it a priority to protect ULA’s Alabama presence. In 2016, Shelby thwarted an effort by McCain to undermine ULA.

On Tuesday, Shelby reiterated his support for ULA.

“I continue to support fair and transparent competition at the Department of Defense and NASA,” Shelby said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “United Launch Alliance has an outstanding reliability record of 128 consecutive launches without a failure, and that record speaks for itself.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 weeks ago

Why Shelby is one of Alabama’s greatest senators ever

(Wikicommons)

In my book, “Of Goats and Governors: Six Decades of Alabama Political Stories,” I suggest that based on seniority, tenure, power and prestige that Alabama’s greatest senators have been Lister Hill, John Sparkman, and Richard Shelby.

Folks, Richard Shelby has probably forged to the front of that triumvirate with his elevation to the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee in April.

The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee makes the ultimate decision about how every federal United States dollar is spent. Alabama has never had a U.S. Senate Appropriations Chairman in our 200-year history.

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Shelby’s prowess at bringing home the bacon is legendary. You do not have to look very far to see the effects of Shelby’s power over his past 31 years as our U.S. Senator. There is an entire section of the University of Alabama where he placed buildings that are an integral part of the University’s academic success. All paid for with federal dollars.

The state of the art biomedical research facility at UAB, all paid for with federal dollars, is there along with millions more in research grants because of Richard Shelby Huntsville and the Redstone Arsenal have been the benefactors of so much largesse from Shelby’s direct influence that it is not possible in the space of this column to enumerate the
buildings and federal dollars that our crown jewel city has received over the years.

Huntsville/Madison County and the entire Tennessee Valley are poised to become the envy of the nation in economic growth over the next decade. There should be three gigantic monuments erected in Huntsville and put side by side of Werner Von Braun, John Sparkman and Richard Shelby.

If truth were known, one of the reasons the Mazda/Toyota plant, with over 5000 high paying jobs, chose Huntsville was because of Richard Shelby.

Along with becoming Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he also took over the reins of the Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee.

I am here to tell you that is big news for Alabama. There is no state in America that is more reliant on federal dollars for defense installations, defense research and defense related employees than the good old Heart of Dixie.

What facilities do you think will be protected and which bases will be guarded? The Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Maxwell/Gunter in Montgomery and Ft. Rucker in the Wiregrass will be first in line when it comes to federal defense spending. More importantly, those major economic engines of our state just received a gigantic umbrella protection policy from any military defense cutbacks.

Senator Shelby has chaired several extremely important U.S. Senate committees over his three decades as our senator, including Intelligence, Banking, and Rules. However, Appropriations is the crème-de la crème of committees. Why? Because it controls the gold. “Those who have the gold make the rules.”

Senator Shelby has brought home a lot of bacon to our state over the years, more than any U.S. Senator in Alabama History. However, you ain’t seen nothing yet. They have just given our senior U.S. Senator the key to the vault to the U.S. Treasury and he knows how to use it.

And, guess what? He is just in his second year of his sixth six-year term. He is in the best health of any 84-year-old I have ever seen. He has the soundness of mind and the physical stamina of a 60-year-old and he works out daily.

The governor’s race is getting down to the proverbial lick log. It looks as though Kay Ivey is in the catbird’s seat to win a full term of her own. There is no reason to fret over her perceived aging, looks can be deceiving. Besides when you have Richard Shelby as a senior U.S. Senator we really do not even need a governor.

Twinkle Cavanaugh is poised to win the Lt. Governor’s race. When the dust settles in November my prediction is that we will have a female governor and a female Lt. Governor, but more importantly we will have Richard Shelby as our senior U.S. Senator for at least four more years.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in more than 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

1 month ago

Alabama Sen. Shelby on the Mueller probe: ‘Not a big fan’ of special prosecutors; Rosenstein ‘a real liberal prosecutor’

(Senator R. Shelby/Flickr)

Saturday at the Mid-Alabama Republican Club at Vestavia Hills Public Library, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) fielded questions about the Department of Justice’s special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Shelby was asked if he would call for an end of the “witch-hunt on President Trump,” referring to the Mueller probe.

“I like a lot of the things President Trump is doing,” Shelby replied. “I supported him. I flew down to Huntsville with him — spent an hour and a half with him. I’ve never done that before with any president. I like a lot of his policies, supported a lot of his policies, and plan to support. I think he’s doing some good things. Let’s look at Korea right now. Now, that’s all in flux. But if they can make some kind of agreement that’s meaningful and substantively there, he might be the best one to do it, and the new secretary of state.”

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“If they do that, my God — I saw a CNN poll that said he had an approval of 52 percent,” he continued. “That’s unusual. The media, the Democrats, the left don’t realize and don’t want to realize they lost the election. You know this,  and that’s part of the problem. A lot of it is fanned by, you know, by different people than the media. I think that at this point in time — you got a special counsel and special prosecutor out there. I haven’t seen anything out there that involved Trump, directly involved in any Russian influence of our election, that most of it has been on the periphery of people that did things that work on the campaign. I don’t see it tied to him that has anything to do with the campaign that I know of yet.”

“But I’m not a big fan of special prosecutors,” he added. “I have voted not to have special prosecutors. That all came about because Senator Sessions recused himself. Then he appointed a deputy who happened to be — let’s be honest, a real liberal prosecutor. And then he appointed Mueller. I don’t know how it’s going to wind up, but the sooner, the better.”

Shelby took a follow-up question on the topic, which pertained to Trump being responsible for the actions of his staff during the campaign.

“I got a staff,” he replied. “I can’t be responsible for everything they do. Are you kidding me?”

Watch Shelby’s entire presentation (courtesy of the Greater Birmingham Republican Women):

Senator Richard Shelby

Posted by Greater Birmingham Republican Women on Saturday, May 12, 2018

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 months ago

Poll shows Ivey among most popular governors; has good news for Sen. Jones

(Flickr, Facebook)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey remains one of the nation’s most popular governors, and new Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) fares better than his predecessor, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey by Morning Consult included interviews with 275,000 registered voters in all 50 states from Jan. 1 through the end of March.

The news is good for Ivey as she runs for election to a full four-year term after ascending to the governor’s office following Robert Bentley’s resignation.

Ivey has the support of 67 percent of Alabama voters, with just 15 percent disapproving. That is even better than a January Morning Consult poll that found 64 percent approving of Ivey.

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Only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had higher approval ratings in the survey released Thursday. And in terms of net approval — approval minus disapproval — only Baker outperforms Ivey.

This stands as an outlier in another way. Among the five most popular governors, only Ivey serves a deep red state. The other four all are Republicans in Northeastern states that lean either slightly or dramatically to the left. In addition to Baker and Hogan, that includes Vermont’s Phil Scott and New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu.

All of the 10 most popular governors are Republicans, a bright spot for a party bracing for losses in other races in the upcoming midterm elections.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, is the nation’s most unpopular governor — with a whopping 72 percent of the state’s voters giving him a thumbs-down.

Five governors seeking re-election are under water — Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner (minus 34 percentage points), Alaska independent Bill Walker (minus 23 points), Hawaii Democrat David Ige (minus 12 points), Rhode Island Democrat Gina Raimondo (minus 11 points), Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker (minus 7 points).

Senate ratings

The Morning Consult poll puts Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) in the middle of the pack, with 51 percent of Alabama voters approving of his job performance and 30 percent disapproving. That is similar to the results of a Morning Consult poll released in January. Half of Alabama voters approved of Shelby’s performance, while 28 percent disapproved.

Shelby’s net positive rating of 21 points in the current survey ties for 27th most popular senator in the country.

That is a percentage point below Jones, who stunned the political world in December with his upset victory in a special election to fill the Senate seat that Jeff Sessions vacated to become attorney general.

A smaller share of Alabama voters approve of Jones — 47 percent. But only 25 percent said they disapprove. More people had no opinion one way or another compared to Shelby.

Jones, for now, is ahead of Luther Strange — who won appointment to the seat but failed to win the GOP nomination for the special election. Jones had a 42 percent approval rating — with 34 percent disapproving — according to his last Morning Consult poll.

Morning Consult declared that Jones is “off to a fine start among voters in Alabama.”

Jones fares much better than the Senate’s other newcomer — Minnesota Democrat Tina Smith, appointed to fill the seat left open when Al Franken resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Smith gets a positive rating from a third of Minnesota voters, with 21 percent disapproving. A large chunk of voters in the North Star State do not know her or have an opinion.

The nation’s most popular senators are evenly split along partisan lines — five Republicans and three Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) remains the most popular senator, with a 72 percent approval rating among home-state voters. Fellow Vermonter Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, is second with a 65 percent approval rating.

As they were in the last Morning Consult poll, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are the least popular senators. Both have net disapproval ratings of minus 18 points.

McConnell will not be on the ballot in November and Flake is leaving office. But the results contain bad news for four senators who will be on the ballot — Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). All are among the 10 least popular senators in America.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

2 months ago

With Shelby’s ascension the most powerful hand on government ‘till’ belongs to Alabama

(Senator R. Shelby/Flickr)

Sen. Richard Shelby’s official ascension as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday was much more than a Capitol Hill version of musical chairs.

The committee is one of the most powerful in Washington, controlling the levers of federal spending, at least in the upper chamber.

“It’s a reasonably big deal,” said William Stewart, a University of Alabama political scientist. “Not even being chairman, he’s already been able to bring a lot of pork back to Alabama. This will ensure the continuation of that.”

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Shelby, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, claimed the gavel after poor health forced the resignation of previous Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Shelby — who had been vice chairman of the committee prior to 2015 when Democrats controlled the Senate — won the backing of his fellow Republicans on the committee Monday evening and the full Republican caucus at a weekly luncheon Tuesday.

The Senate affirmed it on a voice vote Tuesday afternoon.

“My colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee, and I am honored to serve our nation in this new capacity,” Shelby said in a statement. “This is a remarkable opportunity. I look forward to working with Vice Chairman [Patrick] Leahy and the entire committee as we continue the practice of writing and approving bills that responsibly allocate funding for the activities and duties of the federal government.”

It is the capstone of a career that may well end at the conclusion of the 83-year-old senator’s current term. It is his fourth committee chairmanship, a rarity in the Senate. Previously, Shelby has chaired the Banking, intelligence and commerce committees.

That he has chaired so many different committees is a testament both to his longevity and rules put in place by the new Republican majority elected in 1994 limiting committee chairmen to six years. Prior to that, senators with long tenures tended to hold on to coveted chairmanships for years or decades.

In addition to chairing the full Appropriations Committee, Shelby will take the helm of its Subcommittee on Defense, an important perch for a state that has important defense interests in Huntsville, a large military base in Montgomery and a shipyard in Mobile that builds Navy ships.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) congratulated Shelby.

“Over the years, Senator Shelby has been a steadfast champion for Alabama’s priorities, and I have no doubt his efforts will continue in this prestigious position,” he said in a statement.

Stewart said Republicans long have railed against spending, particularly pork-barrel spending.

“But when it comes to home, they certainly don’t apply that maxim consistently,” he said.

Still, Stewart noted, chairing the Appropriations Committee does not have quite the luster of previous eras. Reforms adopted by Congress have severely curtailed spending directed specifically by individual members of Congress.

What’s more, with the national debt hitting $21 trillion and projected to grow even higher over the next decade, Stewart said the ability to control spending might be more important than skill at bringing dollars back to Alabama.

“There’s not just a pot of money there waiting to be taken,” he said. “Because there’s just not money there. …I certainly hope that Sen. Shelby will use this new position of leadership to rein in excessive spending, because it certainly needs to be done.”

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

2 months ago

Alabama newspapers warn Trump tariffs threaten business — Jackson Co. Sentinel: Could cost $100k annually

(Pexels)

Over the past several days, at least three Alabama newspapers have warned that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs could come at a significant cost to their businesses.

The Cullman Times, The Selma Times-Journal and The Jackson County Sentinel say a tariff levied against Canadian-manufactured newsprint at the behest of a single newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest, North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) will raise their cost significantly.

“In August 2017, NORPAC petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to begin applying tariffs to newsprint imported from Canada,” an editorial published in Friday’s Cullman Times explained. “NORPAC claimed the imported paper was harming the U.S. newsprint industry. NORPAC’s assumption is wrong, and this one company’s act is not in the best interest of the U.S. paper industry or the millions of readers of newspapers across the country, including those who read this newspaper.”

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Selma Times-Journal president and publisher Dennis Palmer echoed the same concerns in an op-ed featured in the Saturday edition of his newspaper. According to Palmer, even though the newsprint for the Times-Journal doesn’t come from Canada, the tariffs have increased the price for all newsprint, and that raises his costs.

“The Selma Times-Journal is printed almost entirely on paper made in Grenada, Mississippi,” he wrote. “Community newspapers like ours represent a sliver of newspaper demand. Despite still-healthy print readership, we alone cannot create enough demand to stimulate the U.S. newsprint market and bring shuttered mills back to life. Yet our need for newsprint to fulfill our obligation to readers is as enduring as that of the Washington Post or New York Times.”

Jackson County Sentinel editor Brandon Cox estimated in an editorial in his newspaper last week the annual cost for business as a result of the tariffs could be $100,000 annually.

“Newsprint, sold in increments of tons, will see costs rise from $600 per ton to nearly $800 per ton. Last year, the Sentinel required approximately 450 tons of newsprint to produce Jackson County’s newspaper and the eight other community newspapers that print in Scottsboro,” he wrote. “The effects of these tariffs represent a nearly $100,000 increase to material expenses for our operation that employs 30 people in Jackson County.”

All three newspapers urged their respective members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Sens. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) to intervene and halt the tariff on newsprint.

“We join others in the news industry and in communities across the U.S. in calling for an end to the unnecessary newsprint tariff,” the Cullman Times editorial concluded.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

2 months ago

Alabama Senator Shelby to lead powerful Appropriations Committee

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby is on the brink of becoming the new chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a post with great influence over more than $1 trillion in annual spending.

Shelby was confirmed by panel members to lead the committee and is sure to be ratified by the full Senate soon.

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He will replace Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran, who recently retired from the Senate due to poor health.

Shelby said he doesn’t know whether he would support a likely White House effort to roll back recent spending increases that have drawn the ire of conservatives, but that “it might be that Congress is going to stay where they are.”

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri would take over Shelby’s current role as chairman of the low-profile Rules Committee.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 months ago

Sen. Shelby’s ascent to Appropriations chair has Georgians worried over decades-long water war with Alabama, Florida

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

With Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) departure from the U.S. Senate on April 1, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) is set to become the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

That has some on the Georgia side of the long-running water war over the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa, and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins between Florida and Alabama worried Congress will enact legislation to give Alabama an edge according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman.

“The 83-year-old has kept Georgia’s lawyers and congressional delegation in a constant state of paranoia over the past two decades by quietly using government spending bills and other must-pass legislation to aid Alabama’s position in the tri-state water fight,” Hallerman wrote. “Georgia lawmakers have mostly thwarted Shelby’s under-the-radar moves by banding together and going over his head to party leaders. But Shelby’s likely promotion could change the political dynamic on Capitol Hill, where committee chairmen have outsized power to look out for their interests.”

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The population explosion of the Atlanta metropolitan area has led to an increased demand for water, which it has met by drawing from the Chattahoochee River. That according to those on the Alabama and Florida side of the issue crying foul given it means less downstream flow from the Chattahoochee. It has especially impacted oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay of Florida.

Hallerman wrote that Shelby has attempted to insert language into government spending legislation for what he has referred to as “equity in the distribution of the water,” but those efforts have been thwarted by Georgia lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

With Shelby’s new role, it may be harder for Georgia’s congressional delegation to continue to resist his efforts, Hallerman explained.

“Ever since a 2015 blowup, the Georgia delegation has been able to contain Shelby’s efforts. But that could all change in the months ahead,” she wrote. “Shelby’s promotion is all but assured in the seniority-focused Senate, and he has backup on Senate Appropriations from Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, since the two states frequently work together on the issue. No Georgia lawmaker sits on that Senate committee.”

Shelby joined the Environment and Public Works Committee in 2017, which is the committee that authorizes projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as laid out by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  The Army Corps of Engineers’ activities are traditionally authorized every two years by Congress through the WRDA and are funded annually in appropriations bills, which will give Shelby significant influence.

Neither of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have a seat on the Environment and Public Works or Appropriations committees.

In a statement provided to Yellowhammer News, Shelby urged a solution at the state level, but maintained he would seek to “preserve” Alabama’s interests.

“It is my continued hope that the Alabama, Florida, and Georgia governors will work this out at the state level,” Shelby said. “However, I will carefully consider all options to preserve our state’s interests.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

3 months ago

Alabama’s Republican Party should pass a resolution celebrating, not censuring, Sen. Shelby

When my wife and I began editing Yellowhammer News four months ago, we promised to always “tell the truth, even when it hurts, and especially when it’s unpopular.”

We wrote that because we believe honesty is a virtue to be constantly pursued, not only in journalism, but also in every profession and aspect of life. And when found, it should be celebrated, not censured, as an alarming 42 percent of the attendees at the recent statewide meeting of the Alabama Republican Party wanted to do.

The group pushed a resolution denouncing Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, for saying he couldn’t support the candidacy of someone who many fair-minded Alabamians believed was credibly accused of having been a serial sexual harasser of young women.

Thankfully, 58 percent of our party’s members at the meeting voted to “indefinitely postpone” consideration of the measure.

But why so much residual anger at someone for simply being honest?

When Shelby was asked about the race shortly before the election, the senator said he “couldn’t vote for Roy Moore” and instead would write-in the name of a “distinguished Republican” on the ballot.

Shelby, like many others (some who only spoke in hushed anonymity or avoided comment altogether), believed in his heart that Moore would have done more harm to Alabama than good. So instead of sheepishly avoiding the question, he answered truthfully and therefore, in doing so with full knowledge of the coming backlash, acted courageously.

Isn’t that what we seek from our elected representatives?

But because Shelby spoke honestly, supporters of the recent failed resolution blame him for Moore’s defeat.

Having a single senator tell the truth wasn’t what sunk Moore’s candidacy. The judge lacked a coherent communication strategy and failed to seriously campaign for the job.

That’s it. Period.

Three quick yet telling examples:

— During the final crucial days of the campaign when Moore should have been busy getting seen by voters in the most populated areas, he chose to only appear at rural churches and a couple of out-of-the-way rallies. (As a contrast, Donald Trump held five rallies a day in key battleground areas in the run up to his victory. That’s how it’s done.)

— Instead of deploying campaign spokesmen to overwhelm local talk radio and television speaking to actual Alabama voters, they were wasted with interviews on national television with the likes of Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper. Why? Their viewers in New York City weren’t voting in our election.

— Yellowhammer News even offered the judge’s campaign as much room on our website as they’d like to make their case, out of fairness since I wrote some pieces critical of Moore. Did they take advantage of that opportunity? No.

Had the judge aggressively campaigned in those final weeks – getting out and talking with voters, speaking directly to them, bypassing the media – he’d have easily made up the 22,000 votes he lost by.

But … if some wish to ignore those hard lessons and give Shelby credit for stopping a runaway train from crashing into the Senate and taking Alabama’s interests down with it, then fine.

For my part, I thank Shelby for having courage and telling “the truth, even when it hurts, and especially when it’s unpopular.”

Shelby swatted away this controversy like an annoying fly. His years of service and leadership have given him the power and influence to do so with ease.

Meanwhile, those of us coming up in our state’s conservative movement should take heart, and take a lesson, from Shelby’s stance.

And keep on telling the truth.

(Image: Senator Richard Shelby/Facebook)

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

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5 months ago

Alabama’s congressional delegation reacts to the shutdown

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

Late Friday, lawmakers were unable to pass an eleventh-hour effort to thwart a government shutdown, and as the clock struck midnight, “nonessential” federal government activities ceased.

The Senate effort failed by a 50-49 roll call vote and required 60 votes to pass. The legislation would have funded the federal government through February 16.

Both of Alabama’s U.S. Senators, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) and Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), voted for the bill. Jones was one of five Democrats voting in the affirmative, a position he made known earlier in the evening.

In a statement released early Saturday, Shelby railed against his Democratic colleagues and accused them of “putting partisan politics” ahead of funding the government.

“It is unacceptable that Democrats would vote against a measure to keep our government open to do the work of the American people,” Shelby said. “I do not believe that shutting down the government is a solution to the problems we face as a country. A shutdown is destructive to the American taxpayer, no matter the circumstances. Republicans are working hard to keep the government running, and we also want to approve a long-term reauthorization of CHIP, which provides millions of children with needed health insurance coverage. While a long-term funding measure is preferred, this CR would allow Congress the ability to continue ongoing and proactive negotiations in an effort to approve a bipartisan, bicameral funding bill.”

“Democrats have chosen partisan politics over funding our government, funding our troops, and providing health insurance to low-income children and pregnant women,” he added. “The American people deserve better.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who had been very active on Twitter in lead-up and the aftermath of the shutdown deadline, described the Democratic refusal to back the legislation “petty and ridiculous.”

“The so-called ‘resistance’ and Senate Democrats have shut down the entire federal government and put health care for over 85,000 Alabama children at risk over an unrelated illegal immigration issue,” he said. “This is petty and ridiculous, and I call on Senate Democrats to stop with the political games, come back to the negotiating table, and join us in passing a funding bill.”

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) of Alabama’s 2nd congressional district expressed similar disapproval of Senate Democrats.

“While I continue to have serious concerns with short-term funding measures, I still voted in favor of the Continuing Resolution this week in the House because I believe it is critical that we keep the government open and running, especially as it relates to our military and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” Roby said. “I am deeply disappointed that Senate Democrats chose to let the government shut down over an unrelated immigration issue that does not have an immediate deadline.”

“My congressional offices will remain open to serve the needs of those I represent. I will continue working with my colleagues to work towards a solution to properly fund our government,” she added.

The congressman for Alabama’s 3rd congressional district, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), also condemned Democrats for “playing politics.”

“One of the fundamental purposes of our government is to provide for the common defense to protect our liberties,” Rogers said in a statement released early Saturday. “Unfortunately, Democrats chose illegal immigrants over our brave men and women who serve in uniform and forced our government to shut down. Their actions also hurt children across East Alabama and the country that rely on CHIP.  Playing politics with those who defend our freedom and the health care of the kids who need it the most is unconscionable to me.”

The lone member of Alabama’s delegation to vote against the continuing resolution was Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). Sewell had made it her intentions known she would oppose the GOP’s efforts on Thursday. In a tweet early Saturday, she deemed the shutdown the “Trump shutdown” and called on Republicans to do their job.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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5 months ago

Alabama’s GOP House delegation calls on Senate Democrats to pass CR; Democrat Sen. Doug Jones still undecided

United States Capitol

Late Thursday, Alabama’s Republican members of the House of Representatives issued a statement calling on Senate Democrats to allow passage of a continuing resolution that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for six years and fund the federal government through February 16.

The joint statement from Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope),  Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks) deemed the Democratic obstruction effort “political games.”

“The House has acted to prevent a government shutdown and provide long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Unfortunately, it seems Senate Democrats are intent on blocking the bill and forcing a government shutdown, all over an unrelated immigration issue. This action would be both irresponsible and reckless. We urge the Senate to stop playing political games, pass this funding bill, and deliver certainty to the over 85,000 Alabama families who depend on the CHIP program to provide for their children’s health care needs.”

Also according to the release, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) will vote in favor of the bill. However, Mobile Fox 10’s Bob Grip says as of 9 p.m. local time Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) remains undecided.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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5 months ago

Report: Group seeks Alabama Republican Party censure of Richard Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

 

According to a story from Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, a group is seeking a censure resolution from the Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee against Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) for declining to support Roy Moore in last month’s special election against Doug Jones.

Jones defeated Moore by a 1.7 percent margin, nearly 23,000 votes, to become Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator.

“This week, three Moore supporters submitted a resolution to the Alabama Republican Party executive committee calling for Shelby to be censured,” Isenstadt wrote. “It argues that Shelby ‘publicly encouraged Republicans and all voters to write in a candidate instead of voting for the Republican Candidate Judge Roy Moore,’ and that his ‘public speech was then used by the Democrat Candidate in robocalls to sway voters to not vote for Judge Roy Moore.'”

According to Isenstadt, the effort is being financed by Dallas investor Christopher Ekstrom. Isenstadt describes Ekstrom as “a prolific GOP donor who has contributed nearly $300,000 to conservative and anti-establishment causes since 2012, according to federal records.”

Shelby’s decision to publicize his decision not to vote for Moore last month was used by Jones’ campaign in online, radio and TV ads against Moore.

According to the bylaws set by ALGOP’s executive, the rule governing support of candidates is as follows:

“Denying Ballot Access: This Committee reserves the right to deny ballot access to a candidate for public office if in a prior election that person was a Republican office holder and either publicly participated in the primary election of another political party or publicly supported a nominee of another political party. The provisions of this Rule shall apply for a period of six years after such person so participated. (This rule does not include all of the reasons for denying ballot access.)”

Shortly before the election, ALGOP party chairwoman Terry Lathan described Shelby as “a very good and supportive friend to the Alabama Republican Party,” adding that he was “a staunch conservative on issues.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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5 months ago

Richard Shelby on Mitt Romney for U.S. Senate: ‘I hope he will run — I would encourage him to run’

Richard Shelby / Screenshot from The Hill
(Richard Shelby / Screenshot from The Hill)

 

 

Friday in an interview with The Hill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) encouraged former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, to run for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Shelby told The Hill’s Molly Hooper that Romney would be a good “fit” in the Senate.

“I hope he runs,” Shelby said. “I have a lot of respect for Gov. Romney. I think he would fit in in the Senate. I think he would bring another strong dimension to the Senate and a lot of leadership qualities. So, I hope he will run. I would encourage him to run.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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5 months ago

Watch: Doug Jones – ‘It’s going to be a tug-of-war both ways for my vote’

(MSNBC/YouTube)
(MSNBC/YouTube)

Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the newly sworn-in Sen. Doug Jones (D-Birmingham) suggested his vote would be up for grabs in the U.S. Senate.

Jones told host Joe Scarborough he was taking a cue from former Alabama U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin in that he would listen and do his best to reflect the mood of Alabama.

“I think that that is critical,” Jones said. “I made a promise during the campaign. I said it yesterday after I was sworn in — that I think the role of the senator, two roles — you got to listen and learn from your constituents, learning what they’re hurting about, what they’re concerned about. And the other part of that is also to try to use your office to educate folks. I’m going to try to do that as much — I don’t want to try to dodge people. I don’t want to run from folks like we’ve seen so much in the last couple of years. I think the only way to be effective is to be out there, to talk to people.”

“And again, we may not agree,” he continued. “We’re not going to agree on everything, but I want to listen to hear those concerns. I think that’s what people are looking for most — somebody that’s going to care about them, listen to their concerns. And they know — I was raised in politics by Senator Howell Heflin from Alabama. He was one of the great leaders, and he did that. He taught me how to listen. He taught me how to reflect Alabama. And that’s what I hope to do. I think it’s going to be a tug-of-war both ways for my vote.”

Jones went on to add the CHIP program and infrastructure as some of his possible early priorities and cited his long-time relationship with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) to work to continue to bring military funding to the state.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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7 months ago

Mo Brooks calls one of Moore’s accusers ‘clearly a liar’

(Rep. Mo Brooks/Flickr)
(Rep. Mo Brooks/Flickr)

 

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Hunstville) reinforced his support for Roy Moore on Wednesday, challenging the credibility of sexual misconduct allegations against the embattled Senate candidate.

In an interview with Dale Jackson of WVNN, Brooks said he is sticking with Moore because of how questionable the allegations are and how important this Senate seat is for Republicans. 

Why this matters: Several major Alabama Republicans have said they believe the allegations or see no reason to disbelieve them, including Governor Kay Ivey, Senator Richard Shelby, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Shelby has said he no longer supports Moore, while Ivey said she will still vote for him. Brooks’ response highlights a significant division among Alabama’s conservative leaders regarding whether the allegations are credible and if they are, what the implications are.

Key Quotes:

— “What you have is the mainstream, left-wing socialist Democrat news media trying to distort the evidence to cause people to reach the conclusion that Roy Moore engaged in unlawful conduct with a minor, and my analysis of the evidence is that is not the case,” Brooks said.

— “One of (the accusers) is clearly a liar because that one forged the ‘love, Roy Moore’ part of a yearbook in order to try to for whatever reason get at Roy Moore and win this seat for the Democrats, and there’s a lot more to it as to why I believe that the evidence is almost incontrovertible about whether the yearbook was forged,” Brooks said.

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7 months ago

Quin Hillyer: GOP should try weird ‘Shelby Strategem’ to resolve Roy Moore mess

 

Weird messes sometimes require weird remedies.

The Republican Party, state and national, is in a huge, weird mess because of the ongoing situation involving Judge Roy Moore. Because of the nature of the allegations, the timing of the allegations, and the complicated interplay between state law, state party rules, and Senate rules, there is absolutely no good solution for Republicans or, frankly, for Moore.

It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with a manufacturing mistake that put the wrong colors on the wrong squares so that it’s impossible to “solve.”

But after puzzling out numerous options, I think the least bad idea is an ingenious bit of political jiu-jitsu I saw on Twitter. (Alas, it was a ReTweet of a ReTweet, or something like that, and I don’t remember whose idea it was originally, or I would credit him/her.) The short version is that a write-in campaign should be organized… for current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

What? Come again? The immediate response is to ask how it would help to write in a current senator’s name for an open Senate seat.

Well, I said it was jiu-jitsu.

But, without explaining in detail the rules/law interplay mentioned above, or explaining why all sorts of other suggested options seem to be even worse ideas than this one (please do follow the links to understand at least a bit more about it all), here’s how and why the Shelby idea, at least theoretically, could work in practical application.

The assumption underlying the idea is that it will be nearly impossible for any write-in effort to succeed, but that the only way it can is if there is a consensus write-in candidate who enjoys near-universal name-identification and widespread approval. Frankly, only two people in Alabama fit that bill – and there is no way that one of them, Jeff Sessions, would or should take a demotion back to his old Senate seat from his perch as Attorney General.

That leaves Shelby. And even Shelby couldn’t possibly win a write-in if Moore refuses to suspend his own campaign.

Moore isn’t likely to do so. But let’s just hypothesize that he would. The play could be this: Sessions and President Trump, along maybe with somebody Moore might admire (Franklin Graham, maybe?) could together call Moore and say that even if Moore wins – which is now at least slightly unlikely, and with his odds still dropping rather than rising – he faces so much antipathy in the Senate and such a damaged reputation nationally that his presence in the Senate would absolutely do more harm than good to the cause of a godly republic to which he has devoted his career. The best way to advance his cause is to temporarily disassociate himself from it, and the best way to recover his reputation is if he does so while not in the context of a political campaign or office.

The trio of interlocutors would of course promise to publicly thank Moore for his years of service and remind the public that not just law but simple fairness requires that an accused man with a years-long reputation for personal probity enjoy at least some original benefit of the doubt.

If Moore, miracle of miracles, agrees to publicly withdraw and asks Alabamans not to vote for him despite seeing his name on the ballot, and instead asks voters to write in Shelby’s name, then that would be the only way to avoid splitting the right-leaning vote enough so that Democrat Doug Jones isn’t elected.

Wait!, you say. This still doesn’t explain the Shelby part of it!

 How can Alabamans elect somebody to the Senate who already holds the state’s other Senate seat? And why would Shelby do so?

Well, of course he couldn’t hold both seats. The deal would be this: Shelby would publicly announce that if he wins a plurality of the votes in a write-in campaign, he would resign his current Senate seat one minute before the election results are certified, and instead serve out the remainder of the term to which Sessions originally was elected.

That would in turn open up the remainder of Shelby’s current term – which runs through 2022. Governor Kay Ivey could then appoint somebody (other than Luther Strange) to fill the Shelby seat through 2018. The remaining four years of the term would be filled by election during the regularly scheduled federal elections of 2018…for which, if Moore wants, he himself could run.

But Moore would do so only after having time to clear his name, and without in effect holding the state party hostage to the nomination he won before the allegations surfaced. The state party has stood by him, institutionally, for many years, and is doing so still, while under pressure; he could show reciprocity, and earn some sympathy, if he took the party off the hook in this 2017 race and left open his own options for 2018.

(Frankly, it would be better for all if Moore doesn’t run in 2018, but he would be free to do so.)

The person making the biggest sacrifice, of a sort, would be Shelby. In effect, he would be trading away the final two years of the term to which he was elected in 2016.

But how important are those last two years to a man who already is 83 years old and whose decision is merely whether to retire (or run for sure re-election) at age 86 instead of 88? Are those two years’ worth the damage he thinks it will do to his state and nation for either a damaged Moore or a liberal Jones to take what was the Sessions seat? He already has been in Congress since 1978, and on the public payroll in one role or another since 1963. He has served his state and country well – and could serve it even better by trading two last guaranteed years in office, in his late 80s, for the good of his state, party, and country.

So, to recap: 1) Moore withdraws, and endorses Shelby. 2) Shelby says he will accept write-in results if he wins. 3) If write-in is successful, Shelby resigns current seat and assumes the “Sessions” seat. 4) Ivey appoints someone eminently respectable to serve a single year in what was Shelby’s seat. 5) The election for the final four years of what had been Shelby’s term would occur during an already-scheduled November slot, so it would cost the state no more money. 6) The reputation of absolutely everybody involved would rise, because all would be seen as making magnanimous moves for the good of the state.

But nobody, absolutely nobody, could say it is a “dirty trick” (like delaying the current election would be) or of questionable legality (like pretending that if Luther Strange resigns right now, it would allow cancellation of the already-called special election). Instead, it would leave the final choices, at every step, up to the voters of Alabama.

The Shelby Stratagem would be a weird solution, to be sure. But it might just work. It’s worth a try.

Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.

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9 months ago

Sen. Shelby Applauds University of Alabama in Huntsville’s $20 Million Science Grant.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Earlier today, Senator Richard Shelby reported that the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Alabama in Huntsville $20 million over five years.

As part of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, UAH seeks to develop technologies for applications ranging from aerospace and manufacturing to food safety, based on low-temperature plasmas. Through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the grand will support fundamental research and education efforts.

Furthermore, the grant will allow UAH to better share resources with other Alabama institutions of higher learning. In turn, this will lead to greater technology development.

Touching on what the grant means for Alabama, Sen. Shelby said,

“This award serves as merited recognition of the great work that is ongoing at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. UAH is a nationally recognized institution for its research efforts that benefit students, industry, and the community and will continue to do so in the years to come. Once again, Alabama has set itself apart as a leader in science research and higher education.”

Senator Shelby is known for his continued support of equipping students with the tools they need to succeed. He has helped raise money for numerous university projects across the state, and state of the art engineering buildings at the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama bear his name because of those efforts.

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11 months ago

Senate Confirms New U.S Attorney for Alabama’s Norther District

U.S. Attorney Jay Town

Madison County Senior Prosecutor Jay Town has been confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Northern District.

In his short career, Town has been a driving force in the legal profession. One of his largest accomplishments before his appointment came from his push to streamline Alabama’s death penalty appeals process, which was adopted by the Alabama legislature.

In a statement to WHNT New 19, Town said, “ I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the great people of Alabama as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District. I am grateful for the special trust and confidence shown to me by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, Senator Shelby, and all of those who supported me through this process. I inherit a very capable office and look forward to joining them in doing great things.”

Jay Town has worked for the Madison County District Attorney’s office since 2005. His role as U.S. Attorney General will give him jurisdiction over 31 Alabama counties, including Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Florence, and Scottsboro.

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11 months ago

Senator Shelby Weighs In on Transgenders in the Military

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although he wants to see more facts to further evaluate the situation, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) appeared to support the inclusion of all willing people in the U.S. Military during a Wednesday afternoon interview on CNN.

“You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve,” Shelby said on CNN’s Newsroom.

CNN’s questioning stemmed from President Donald Trump’s announcement of a ban on transgender individuals in the U.S. Military. The president made his declaration Wednesday morning in a series of tweets.

Shelby reiterated throughout the several-minute segment that he would like to carefully evaluate the new policy. However, he did note that it appeared to be a shift from traditional U.S. protocol.

“That would be a reversal of the current policy,” Shelby said. “The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You’ve got to remember, our military force is a voluntary force. I’ll have to see what he actually said, read his tweet and go from there.”

Shelby clarified his statements with Yellowhammer, expressing confidence in and deference towards our nation’s military but said that the door should be open for all capable individuals to serve in the armed forces.

“We are a nation at war. I am confident that Secretary Mattis and DoD leadership can and will evaluate current personnel policy that will enable us to recruit, train, and equip an all-volunteer force,” he told Yellowhammer. “Any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet those standards should have the opportunity to do so.”

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11 months ago

Alabama Senators Work Hard to Advance Healthcare Vote

The Senate managed to put together a vote on whether or not to debate on Healthcare legislation early Tuesday. With a dramatic entrance from John McCain and Mike Pence casting the tie breaking vote, the Senate can now debate a new healthcare bill on the floor.

Alabama’s delegation wasted no time taking to social media to celebrate the vote. Senator Richard Shelby took to twitter throughout the day to show his support, calling it a “defining moment for the Republican party.” Senator Strange was also pleased with the vote, vowing “to continue to fight for the relief Alabama families deserve.”

The vote went down to the wire as some Republican holdouts, namely Rand Paul, cast their last minute votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump spent most of the week daring Republican senators to renege on their promise to replace Obamacare. In the end, their persistence paid off as the Healthcare bill can now move on to further debate.

Democrats still remain decidedly against the bill, while Republicans claim it will lower premiums and be a better option for the American people. At this point, it is unclear what version of the Healthcare bill senators will be debating, as every version has died in the senate. It is likely that the Leadership will make proposals and amendments that will attempt to get everyone what they want.

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11 months ago

Alabama Delegation Staunchly Defends Sessions & Giuliani Says The A.G. Got it Right

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

With a relationship with the White House that is quickly turning sour, Attorney General Jeff Sessions received strong backing this morning from a longtime ally on Capitol Hill: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

“During the past twenty years that I have served with Jeff Sessions in the Senate, I have had the opportunity to know him well. He is a man of integrity, loyalty, and extraordinary character,” Shelby said in a statement. “I join the people of Alabama in giving him my deep respect and unwavering support.”

Other members of Alabama’s Congressional Delegation have expressed their support for Sessions as well. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2), who has long considered Sessions a mentor, came out vigorously defending his character.

“I know Jeff Sessions to be a man of great character and sound judgment. His decision to recuse himself was the right thing to do, not just for himself, but for the Administration,” She said. “This country needs Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. We have done more to crack down on illegal immigration in the last six months than in the past eight years. We are addressing problems like violent crime and human trafficking. Congress finally has a partner at the Department of Justice who is willing to enforce laws as they are written.”

When it comes to the president, however, the hits just keep on coming. Early this morning, President Donald Trump tweeted two new attacks on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this time criticizing him for being “very weak” on investigations surrounding Hillary Clinton.

Evidence of Trump’s frustration became public last week when he attacked Sessions in a New York Times interview over the Attorney General’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“Sessions should have never recused himself. . . And if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair and that’s a mild word.”

The attacks continued on Monday, with Trump taking a jab at the Department of Justice and calling Sessions “beleaguered.”

Axios has reported that the president is openly considering the possibility of replacing Sessions with another long-time Trump ally. West Wing sources told the news outlet that Trump is so unhappy with Sessions that he wants to swap him for fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City Mayor strongly supported Trump throughout the 2016 campaign.

Later Monday evening, Giuliani told news outlets he was not being considered for AG and that Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” regarding recusal.

Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, seemingly confirmed that Trump wants Sessions gone in a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt. When asked directly whether or not the president wanted sessions out, Scaramucci replied, “If there’s this level of tension in the relationship that, that’s public, you’re probably right.”

Sessions has been one of Trump’s closest political allies since before Alabama even held its primary. Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump and then served in an advisory capacity for his campaign until his victory. Fox New’s Tucker Carlson recently highlighted this relationship on his primetime program and called for the president to stop attacking “one of the very few” friends he has in Washington.

Despite the whirlwind of pressure, Sessions said late last week that he will continue to serve “as long as that is appropriate.

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11 months ago

Democrats and a Few Republicans Force Alabamians to Keep Obamacare—For Now

President Elect, Donald Trump, LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer
President Elect, Donald Trump, LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

In a move few would have envisioned in the Republican exuberance of late 2016, the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare never made it to a vote. What remains unclear this afternoon, is whether or not a straight repeal of the health care law is still on the table.

Speaking of the original repeal and replace measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Regretfully, it’s now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”

Expressing his frustration at the measure’s failure, President Trump Tweeted:

“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!

The Republicans he was referring to are Rand Paul (Kentucky), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), and Jerry Moran (Kansas). With those four defections, it was mathematically impossible for the Republicans to get the 51 votes they needed to repeal and replace Obama care.

Despite the fact that Republican defections were the final straw in blocking the measure, the White House made no bones about blaming Democrats. With every single Senate Democrat holding firm to keep the system that’s led to rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes, the White House has made its frustrations clear.

As White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said today,

“They’re responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity…The failure of Obamacare, I think, rests solely on the shoulders of Democrats.”

While the effort to repeal and replace the ACA was unsuccessful, this morning the President and Senate Republican leadership suggested a straight repeal the Obamacare.

As the President Tweeted, “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

Alabama’s senior Senator, Richard Shelby agreed, stating:

“Americans have experienced soaring healthcare premiums, swelling deductibles, staggering job loss, and unprecedented tax hikes under Obamacare.  The Senate’s effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare is no longer a possibility, but I remain committed to repealing this deeply flawed law.  The Republican-led Senate is now working on a different approach to bring the American people relief, voting to repeal Obamacare and include a two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care.  The Senate passed the same repeal legislation in 2015, and this time, if passed, the President will sign it.

Senator Luther Strange also supports the straight repeal, adding, “There are no two ways about it: Obamacare is failing, and it’s leaving Alabamians with tough choices or no choices at all. Repealing this law has been the Republican promise since day one, and it’s a promise I will fight to deliver.”

The Senate Republican Caucus met at lunchtime today to discuss strategies, but as the afternoon unfolded, it appeared that even a straight repeal may now be in jeopardy because of more defecting Republicans joining the solid block of intractable Democrats. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore West Virginia joined Collins of Maine saying they would not back a straight repeal, which means that vote may also be withdrawn.

Tomorrow will probably tell whether or not the repeal-only idea will also fail, but if it does, one thing is clear, this debate is far from over. As Senator Shelby concluded,

“We cannot give up.  The American people deserve a health hcare law that provides more choices and affordable premiums.”

 

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12 months ago

Shelby Visits Port of Mobile as Alabama Creates Jobs and Plays Larger Role in World Trade

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) visited Alabama’s Port of Mobile today, touring the new super post-Panamax cranes. Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons led the tour and brought Senator Shelby up to speed on the ways port’s growth is benefitting the state of Alabama and the Gulf Coast region.

The state’s senior U.S. Senator was duly impressed:

The Port of Mobile is one of the fastest growing harbors in the nation. I am encouraged by the current growth and the future economic development opportunities directly tied to the port. Mobile’s two new cranes, which are the biggest in the world, will allow the port to increase productivity, create jobs, and continue to expand.

As the Senator’s press release noted, the Port of Mobile grew by over 19 percent in container capacity in 2016.  With the two new super post-Panamax cranes in place, the Alabama State Port Authority anticipates continued development in the years ahead.

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1 year ago

Alabama airport to receive millions for structural improvements

MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile Airport Authority will receive $2.2 million for structural improvements thanks to a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. USDOT’s grant is part of its Airport Improvement Program, which will directly benefit the Mobile Regional Airport in South Alabama.

The distribution of the money is overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, and it is intended to improve the facility’s runway conditions. It will also provide for a new new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle.

The AIP was established in 1982 and is designed to promote safety and efficiency in the nation’s airports. The money for the program comes from taxes levied on airplane tickets and jet fuel.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee noted that improvement of infrastructure can have a corresponding effect on economic development. “Airport infrastructure directly impacts safety and efficiency, as well as economic competitiveness in communities,” Shelby said. “Mobile’s airport will see long-term benefits from this grant funding, which will improve aviation services that are important to businesses and residents of South Alabama.”

Owned and operated by the Mobile Airport Authority, the Mobile Regional Airport serves both pedestrian and military aircraft. Its top domestic non-stop flight destinations include Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Chicago.

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