The Wire

  • Fairhope firefighter facing new child sex crime allegations

    Excerpt from WKRG:

    A volunteer Fairhope firefighter, already facing child sex crime charges in Northwest Florida, is now also facing charges in Baldwin County

    Aaron Timony Green — seen smiling in his latest booking photo — was booked into the Baldwin County Corrections Center Tuesday morning on charges of child sex abuse and sodomy.

    According to Daphne Police, Green was arrested Monday, and the alleged abuse happened in November 2017.

    Police say the alleged victim was under 12.

  • Birmingham council passes $436 million budget

    Excerpt from

    The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $436 million fiscal year 2019 operating budget.

    The budget is $8 million larger than last year’s budget, due to increased revenue from use and occupational taxes. According to the mayor’s office, 133 vacant jobs were cut from the budget, saving the city $4.7 million.

    Despite the larger budget, Mayor Randall Woodfin said there still wasn’t enough money for street paving or additional funding for Birmingham City Schools.

  • Martha Roby Honors Montgomery Native in 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game Tomorrow

    Excerpt from a Rep. Martha Roby news release:

    U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) will play in the 10th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game tomorrow, June 20, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    This beloved tradition began in 2009 after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, female members of Congress face members of the Washington, D.C., press corps to raise funds and awareness for the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), an organization that addresses a variety of issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Each year, the players honor real women who are battling cancer. This year, Representative Roby will be playing for Courtney Pruitt, a Montgomery native and recent Alabama Christian Academy graduate who is currently undergoing intense treatment to fight leukemia. Courtney is the daughter of Representative Roby’s dear friend and Montgomery City Councilman Glen Pruitt.

    “This year marks the tenth consecutive year female members from both sides of the aisle have come together for the Congressional Women’s Softball Game to support young women battling cancer,” Representative Roby said. “I’m proud to be involved in this great event again this year, and I truly believe it demonstrates what we can accomplish when we put our differences aside to rally for a worthy cause. I am honored to play for my dear friend’s daughter Courtney as she continues to courageously battle this disease.”

2 years ago

Speaker Ryan halts Alabama congressman’s plan to bring back earmarks

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a Romney-Ryan campaign event in Toledo, Ohio (Photo: Starley Shelton)
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a Romney-Ryan campaign event in Toledo, Ohio (Photo: Starley Shelton)
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a Romney-Ryan campaign event in Toledo, Ohio (Photo: Starley Shelton)

WASHINGTON — Moments before Republicans voted to reinstate earmarks in the United States House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan stepped in to swat down the plan, which was being pushed by Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3) and two other members.

The Congressional Research Service defines earmarks as spending attached to “bills that apply to a very limited number of individuals or entities.” The practice was banned in 2010 when Republicans re-took control of the House.

But Rogers, along with Reps. John Culberson of Texas and Tom Rooney of Florida, were sponsoring an amendment to House rules that would revive earmarks going forward.

“The amendment would bring back legislative earmarks for some government agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Reclamation,” explained the Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey. “It also would allow lawmakers to provide earmarks for state and local governments, except for recreational facilities, museums, or parks.”

Earmarks have long sparked outrage among many conservatives and taxpayer watchdog groups. Perhaps most famously, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) attached a $398 million earmark to a spending bill to build a bridge that would be have been used by a total of about 50 residents in his district. The backlash was so severe that “Bridge to Nowhere” became a household phrase.

Republicans met Wednesday to vote on the rules for the next session of Congress, which begins in January, and the amendment regarding earmarks was on track to pass until Speaker Ryan stepped in.

Chad Pergram, a congressional reporter for Fox News, tweeted Wednesday that Ryan had “unilaterally halt(ed) plan to restore earmarks just before it was about to pass in closed conference.”

“GOP was about to ok restoration of some forms of earmarks until Ryan put skids on plan,” he continued. “Wants (the House) to debate issue.”

Ryan is said to have told his colleagues that he did not want to “turn around and have earmarks two weeks after the ‘Drain the Swamp’ election.”

Ryan went on to assure his colleagues that he will address the earmarking issue in the first quarter of next year, but that it will be done as part of a public debate.

2 years ago

Alabama talk radio host perfectly sums up absurdity of Democrats’ gun control meltdown (opinion)

Democrats stage a "sit in" on the House Floor in an attempt to force a vote on gun control.
Democrats stage a "sit in" on the House Floor in an attempt to force a vote on gun control.
Democrats stage a “sit in” on the House Floor in an attempt to force a vote on gun control.

Birmingham-based talk radio host Leland Whaley took to Facebook on Thursday to lay out the absurdity of Congressional Democrats’ publicity stunt aimed at forcing a vote on more stringent gun control measures.

Democrats have called for a “No Fly, No Buy” bill that would prevent individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms. But Republicans have questioned the prudence of denying Second Amendment rights to Americans who could placed on such a list for any number of reasons without due process.

Additionally,’s Jacob Sullum explained earlier this week that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) goes much further than most Democrats want to admit.

Under Feinstein’s 2015 bill, the attorney general can stop the transfer of a firearm if he “1) determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism” and “(2) has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.” The amendment Feinstein introduced last Wednesday, by contrast, lets the attorney general block a sale if he “determines, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the transferee represents a threat to public safety based on a reasonable suspicion that the transferee is engaged, or has been engaged, in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources thereof.”

In the revised version, there is no additional requirement that the attorney general have reason to believe the weapon the suspect is trying to buy will be used in a terrorist attack. Hence an old lady who cut a check to a Hamas-affiliated charity (thereby “providing material support” to terrorism and arguably threatening public safety) could be stopped from buying a handgun for self-defense even if there was no evidence that she planned any sort of attack with it. Feinstein’s amendment also expands the dragnet beyond the FBI’s so-called Terrorist Watchlist, which is believed to include more than 1 million people, to cover anyone who was under investigation for “conduct related to a federal crime of terrorism” during the previous five years. The Justice Department would be notified of attempted gun purchases by people who fit that description, giving it a chance to block the sales.

Whaley, whose Leland Live program airs daily on Birmingham’s Talk Radio 99.5, laid out two more scenarios that illustrate why Democrats’ gun control efforts are at best misguided, and at worst purposefully tyrannical.

Pop Quiz: Which scenario is likely to happen if the Democrats pass their “no fly no buy” fantasy:

Scenario A:

Achmed wants to go to heaven. He is told at the mosque his 72 Virginians are waiting. He thinks the end times are here and ISIS is the new caliphate. He reads the ISIS instructions online. Here is an actual quote, “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” So its time for Achmed to kill some infidels.

But Achmed has a problem. Achmed’s online activity lands him on on the “no fly” or “terror watch” list. We got lucky this time and actually found a potential terrorists to put on the list. Achmed joins Congressman John Lewis, who IS already on the list, and is currently protesting gun laws by sitting on the house floor. Achmed goes down to the local gun shop and finds out he can’t buy a gun because he is on the list. All of Achmed’s 72 virgin dreams are dashed. The government said its against to law to be a terrorist. Achmed would never use a pressure cooker or a machete or a pipe bomb to get into heaven. It would be against the law to buy a stolen gun or to steal one. Achmed respects the rule of the infidel law and would have go against the call of his deeply held spiritual beliefs and returns to a life of mediocrity. His hopes extinguished by the Democrats and their clever list, Achmed will have to just watch his friends on TV as they join in on all the Caliphate fun. Terrorism is ended. America has a loving group hug and James Taylor has a concert to celebrate.

Scenario B:

Brittany is being stalked by her ex-husband. He is twice her size and brutally beat her during their rocky marriage. The cops say there is nothing they can do, he has broken no laws. Brittany lives alone. Brittany needs a gun. After doing her research and going to a range to decide which gun fits her needs, she shows up at a gun store nervous but ready to purchase some peace of mind. The store tells her she can’t buy a gun because she is on the “terror watch list.” Say what? The Terror watch list? Without her knowledge Brittany was put on the list because of a couple of her Facebook posts about the government being out of control. (you can get on the list that way). She is told she will have to fill out some forms and it will takes months to appeal to remove her name. So now the Democrats, who fight the “war on women” every election year, have left her defenseless against her threatening ex-husband. They used her 1st amendment Facebook post to abuse her 5th and 14th amendment right of due process rights in order to deny her 2nd amendment rights to protect herself with a gun.

Which scenario is likely to happen in the real world and how many times?

And while we’re at it, let’s watch Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) question a befuddled Department of Homeland Security official about taking away Americans’ Second Amendment rights without due process.

2 years ago

Is Roby preparing to run for Alabama Governor? It sure looks and sounds like it.

Congressman Martha Roby (R-AL2) delivers her victory speech after winning a fourth term in Congress. (Photo: Roby campaign)
Congressman Martha Roby (R-AL2) delivers her victory speech after winning a fourth term in Congress. (Photo: Roby campaign)

Martha Roby cruised to re-election on Tuesday, defeating well-known tea party leader Becky Gerritson to earn a fourth term in Congress with 67% of the vote.

It was an impressive win for Roby, whose close ties to Republican congressional leadership made her a prime target for a grassroots primary challenge from her right.

But on an Election Night dominated by incumbent wins, Roby’s victory speech — both the setting and the remarks — stood out.

Flanked by giant campaign signs featuring the previously unseen slogan “Alabama First” and backed by an enormous American flag, the setting more closely resembled a slick presidential campaign rally than a congressional candidate’s victory party.

Roby, who is known to focus her messaging on issues directly impacting the 2nd District, like the annual Farm Bill and Veterans Affairs, on Tuesday night turned her attention to the state as a whole.

I love this state. I love its people.

And, you know, the working people of this state deserve better. All they want good job with a fair shake. An opportunity to send children to college, save for retirement and maybe a little left over to go to a few Alabama or Auburn games. It’s not a lot to ask, and most are willing to put in the hard work to build that life for themselves.

But too often, politics gets in the way. Too often, when it comes to decisions that affect the lives of people right here in Alabama, the politically expedient thing to do wins over the right thing to do.

Whether it’s in Washington or Montgomery, too many politicians are so afraid of losing their job that they forget to do their job.

Well, not this girl.

Tomorrow, we’re back to work. There’s so much to do.

There’s so much to do to help working families.

There’s so much to do to help people get ahead.

There’s so much to do to for us to fulfill Alabama’s amazing potential.

In a crowded 2018 primary full of men, simply being a credible female candidate would instantly give Roby a big leg up, maybe even securing her place in an almost guaranteed runoff. Her weaknesses at this point are that she lacks name recognition and fundraising ability outside of her district. And in a state where almost half of Republican primary voters just cast their ballot for Donald Trump, Roby’s D.C. ties and more moderate approach may be a challenging sell to populist conservatives.

Yellowhammer asked Roby’s campaign spokesman Todd Stacy if the Roby camp had a response to the gubernatorial campaign rumors that are already picking up steam in Montgomery.

“I can certainly see why people see that,” Stacy said of the speculation. “She is a dynamic leader with broad appeal, and the message of putting Alabama’s interests ahead of political interests really resonated with voters. But, right now she is focused on ‘doing her job,’ which is representing the people of Alabama’s 2nd District and working hard to get results on their behalf.”

This is not the first time Roby’s name has come up in gubernatorial rumor mill. This is what Yellowhammer wrote of her last year:

The 2nd Congressional District representative has managed to move up the ladder in Washington fairly quickly, landing a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee. She has proven herself to be an able defender of the District’s large military and farming communities, but has taken some shots from grassroots conservatives for not bucking congressional leadership on tough votes. The Montgomery resident with young children undoubtedly sees the appeal of not having to travel to D.C. during the week, but if she wins re-election to a fourth term in Congress, would she give up a relatively safe seat and jump into the mass chaos of a gubernatorial run?

With a fourth term secured, Roby will now have an opportunity to think about the future.

RELATED: These are the politicians eyeing a run for Alabama’s highest offices in 2018

2 years ago

Harper Lee honored on floor of US House: ‘The world has lost a literary giant’

(Video above: Congressman Bradley Byrne honors Harper Lee on the floor of the US House)

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) delivered a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning in memory of Monroeville-native and Alabama literary legend Nelle Harper Lee.

Lee passed away in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, on February 19 at the age of 89.

A full transcript of Byrne’s remarks can be found below.

Mr. Speaker, last week the world lost a literary giant and Alabama lost a legend.

A native of Alabama’s First Congressional District, Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama, the city that served as inspiration for the town of Maycomb in her legendary novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Nelle received many honors throughout her life including being inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and being awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Nelle was known as a private woman, but her writings, on the other hand, inspired generations, promoted acceptance, and taught us all important life lessons.

Sadly, she passed away in Monroeville on February 19 at the age of 89.

One of the best lessons Nelle taught us was about tolerance. As she wrote in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’

May we all take time to reflect on the life of Nelle Harper Lee and may we all continue to live out her lesson of acceptance and tolerance each and every day.

2 years ago

Brooks: ‘Congress broke open our kids’ piggy banks, stole money we cannot pay back’

(Video above: Congressman Mo Brooks speaks on the House floor)

WASHINGTON — Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5) on Wednesday delivered a stinging rebuke of Congressional Republicans’ recent deficit spending, criticizing his colleagues for piling on debt after promising the American people they would move the country toward a balanced budget.

“This Congress broke open our kids’ piggy banks, stole money we cannot pay back, and used it to pay for a trillion dollar Omnibus spending bill that adds tens of billions of dollars to 2016’s deficit,” said Brooks. “Americans are rightfully angry at Washington elected officials who care more about special interest campaign contributions than American voters or America’s future. Will the American people channel their anger in the 2016 elections and elect Washington officials who both understand the threat posed by deficits and debt and have the backbone to fix it? The answer to that question determines whether America continues as a great nation and world power or declines into the dustbin of history.”

Brooks’ full remarks can be heard in the video above. A lightly edited transcript is below.

Mr. Speaker, America entrusted Republicans with the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. Democrats lost Congress because their financially irresponsible conduct and trillion dollar deficits threaten America with a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy.

House Republicans inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit in 2011, cut it to $1.1 trillion in 2012, cut it to $680 billion in 2013,[3] cut it to $485 billion in 2014, and cut it to $439 billion in 2015. House Republicans did what the American people elected them to do . . . and in each election thereafter we were entrusted with two more years of a House Republican majority.

Unfortunately, newly released data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reveals America’s financial condition has taken a sharp turn for the worse.

According to the CBO, the first quarter Fiscal Year 2016 deficit deteriorated by $36 billion compared to 2015’s first quarter deficit. If extrapolated to a full year, America’s FY2016 deficit would be $583 billion . . . that’s $144 billion worse than in FY2015!

Out of control spending was the problem, not taxes. During the first quarter, tax revenue was UP 4% but spending was UP even more, at 7%! Now, for the first time since I’ve been in Congress, Republican compromises and surrenders to Obama and Democrats have made America’s deficits worse, not better!

This Congress broke open our kids’ piggy banks, stole money we cannot pay back, and used it to pay for a trillion dollar Omnibus spending bill that adds tens of billions of dollars to 2016’s deficit. I am proud I voted against the financially irresponsible Omnibus.

Mr. Speaker, America’s Comptroller General and the CBO repeatedly warn that America’s financial path is “unsustainable” . . . meaning America faces a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy unless we get our financial house in order. Further, the CBO warns that, absent correction, America’s debt service costs will increase by $600 billion per year within a decade . . . roughly what America spends on national defense! Which begs the question, “Where will the money come from for an additional annual $600 billion debt service payment come from?”

America’s total debt approached $14 trillion when I was elected to Congress in 2010. We’ve blown through the $19 trillion mark. Now, the CBO projects America will blow through the $29 trillion debt mark in a decade! For emphasis, Washington is engaged in the worst generational theft in American history. Washington steals from our children and grandchildren with a callous devil-may-care attitude so that we can, today, live high on the hog even though it forces our children into hardship and poverty!

Economic principles don’t care if you are a family, a business, or a country. If you borrow more money than you can pay back, you go bankrupt. Time is running out. Washington must balance the budget before America’s debt burden spirals out of control . . . before it is too late to prevent the debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy that awaits us.

Mr. Speaker, Americans are rightfully angry at Washington elected officials who care more about special interest campaign contributions than American voters or America’s future. Will the American people channel their anger in the 2016 elections and elect Washington officials who both understand the threat posed by deficits and debt and have the backbone to fix it? The answer to that question determines whether America continues as a great nation and world power . . . or declines into the dustbin of history.

Mr. Speaker, I can’t speak for anyone else but, as for me, Mo Brooks, from Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, I fight for financial responsibility and prosperity and against an American bankruptcy and economic depression.

4 years ago

Roby: US Military has been ‘cut to the bone’ by Democrats

Rep. Martha Roby, R-AL02, today called on Senate Democrats to abandon what she described as a “misguided” plan to divert defense spending to fund aid to Ukraine and reform the United States’ relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It is absolutely senseless to strip funding from the U.S. Military and send it overseas to prop up the IMF. I agree that we must stand strong in support of the Ukrainian people, and that’s why the House passed a simple, responsible package that uses funding already allocated for diplomatic purposes.

Our military has already been cut to the bone. The additional cuts proposed by Senate Democrats would further inhibit our readiness and send the wrong message internationally.

Now is a time for the United States to project strength in the world, not further erode our military capabilities. I urge Senate Democrats to abandon this misguided plan and work together with the House in a bi-partisan manner to provide responsible assistance to Ukraine.

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a Ukrainian aid bill, H.R. 4152, that would provide loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government. The House bill does not appropriate new funds, but instead redirects existing funding from within State Department.

RELATED: Alabama native becoming known in D.C. as State Department’s ‘digital diplomat’

A separate Ukraine aid package passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday includes an additional provision taking $157.5 million from the Department of Defense to pay for reorganizing the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The House passed its Ukraine aid bill last Thursday by a vote of 385 to 23.

Roby’s comments come only a day after her House colleague Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL05, issued a strongly worded statement saying he was “flabbergasted” by the idea of dolling out cash to Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund while slashing defense spending at home.

“Further cuts to national security, on top of the cuts imposed by sequestration and the Budget Control Act, embolden Russia’s Vladimir Putin and America’s other geo-political foes while making America weaker,” Brooks said.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Byrne: US should stand up for persecuted Christians around the world

Rep. Bradley Byrne, AL-01, delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today highlighting the plight of Christians in nations overseas that have experienced systematic persecution at the hands of oppressive governments, or in the absence of a functioning government.

“Our nation has a moral responsibility to contribute to ending Christian persecution,” Byrne said. “As the Christian communities in nations like Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan continue to be decimated, we cannot turn a blind eye to this injustice.”

Byrne touched on the lack of coverage the mainstream media has given widespread Christian persecution, and pointed out that the United States government sends hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid each year to nations where Christians live in constant fear for their lives.

A recent Pew Research study found that religious persecution has drastically increased in recent years.
Harassed religions
More than “5.3 billion people (76% of the world’s population) live in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion,” Pew noted, “up from 74% in 2011 and 68% as of mid-2007.” Pew researchers also found that a fifth of the world’s population experienced some form of religious terrorism in 2012. And Christians were by far the most persecuted religious group worldwide.

“The United States of America, our president, the secretary of state, this body, the entire Congress and American people, should do what we have traditionally done,” Byrne declared. “Stand up for the rights of people around the world… That means standing up for Christians who are being persecuted and killed merely because of their beliefs.”

Byrne also announced that he would join the International Religious Freedom Caucus, headed by Representative Trent Franks, R-AZ-08. This bipartisan caucus is made up of nearly 60 Members of Congress committed to raising awareness and fighting for the right to freely worship across the globe.

“The ability for people to exercise their faith without fear of retribution is the key to a stable democracy, which serves our national interests abroad,” said Byrne. “I am proud to partner with a great leader on this issue, Congressman Trent Franks, and look forward to working with him and the rest of the members of this caucus to promote religious liberty abroad.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Rogers urges Congress to pass bill to stop EPA’s ‘War on Coal’

Coal Miners

Rep. Mike Rogers, AL-03, today called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill rolling back regulations that discourage the use of America’s coal reserves.

Rogers said H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, would help ensure America can maintain a diverse and affordable electricity portfolio, which includes natural gas, nuclear power, and renewables. But the primary focus of the bill is on the coal industry, which has found itself in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in recent years.

Although the president and his allies vehemently denied during the 2012 presidential race any intent to target the coal industry — even to the point of running ads saying Mitt Romney was actually the candidate who would be bad for coal — an Obama Administration official set off a firestorm last year when he said, “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” Those comments by White House climate adviser Daniel Schrag preceded the president’s announcement that he would, indeed, use his executive power to unilaterally impose new regulations on coal-fired plants.

Congressman Mike Rogers Alabama Yellowhammer Politics
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-AL03

At the president’s direction, the EPA has since then written wide-reaching regulations, many unattainable, to dramatically limit the construction of new coal plants. Other regulations set standards that are essentially unachievable for existing coal plants.

The Electricity Security and Affordability Act, which has bipartisan support, would require any greenhouse gas standards set by the EPA for new coal-fired plants to be achievable by commercial power plants currently operating. The legislation also provides that Congress would set the effective date for EPA’s expected regulations for existing plants.

“As the president’s War on Coal continues, we will almost certainly see increased electricity bills,” Rogers said. “At a time when many East Alabama families are spending a higher percentage of their income to heat their homes during this harsh winter, the last thing we need is the Obama Administration enforcing unachievable electricity production rules that ultimately take more money out of the pockets of East Alabama families and discourage the creation and retention of good-paying Alabama jobs.”

The House was expected to vote on the bill Wednesday.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Heritage Foundation hails Sessions as ‘Senator who most vigorously opposed amnesty’

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

At the height of the debate over the so-called Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill last May, Yahoo! News published an article in their “Power Players” section titled “Sen. Jeff Sessions almost single-handedly trying to derail ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill.”

Although he wasn’t able to stop it in the Senate, the consistent pressure he put on House Republicans to hold the line was a major factor in getting the bill bogged down in the lower chamber.

And that wasn’t his first rodeo.

“Many blame [Sessions] for the defeat of the last immigration reform bill in 2008,” Yahoo! News noted.

But last week, House Republican leadership released a new blueprint for immigration reform.

Sessions immediately sprang into action.

Once again, we have the same recycled talking points—crafted, it would appear, with the help of the same consultants and special interests. Each time, the talking points are followed by legislation that fails to match the promises — legislation that, at bottom, ensures only the amnesty and not the enforcement. The leadership talking points look like an attempted repackaging of the tired Gang-of-Eight-style formula that has been proposed, rejected, and re-proposed for years. It is no surprise then that Senator Schumer and former Speaker Pelosi are so encouraged by these developments. But while Democrat leaders and interest groups appear satisfied, this document was not voted upon by the GOP conference and clearly does not represent the consensus of Republican members. Is it not time we pushed aside the stale proposals stitched together in concert with the same lobbyists, and asked what is in the best interests of the hardworking American citizen—and the nation?

With that kind of rhetoric being aimed at members of the Washington establishment in both parties, it’s no wonder that conservatives around the country are starting to realize what we here in Alabama have known for a long time — Sen. Sessions is one of us.

#SESSIONS2016: Here’s an idea for the 2017 State of the Union Address

Over the weekend, James Carafano of The Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s top experts on defense and homeland security, wrote a piece for The Washington Examiner praising Sen. Sessions for his efforts.

“In person Sessions doesn’t look like the bill-slayer type,” Carafano wrote. “Polite and affable, he comes across as a perpetual ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ rather than a bulldog. Yet over the years, Sessions has proved to be very serious about some very serious issues. He hates higher taxes, has no use for Obamacare, and has a passion for providing for the common defense.”

The Heritage Foundation scholar noted that Sessions’ decision to get so far out in front on the immigration issue has made him a favorite target of leftwing bloggers and TV personalities like Rachel Maddow.

“But, Sessions doesn’t back off,” Carafano proclaimed. “One might wonder why he picked an explosive issue like immigration for his lonely crusade. But the impetus for his determined stand is clear: a total commitment to the rule of law. Before running for the U.S. Senate, he served as both a federal prosecutor and state attorney general. After serving as a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Ronald Reagan nominated him for a federal judgeship, but later withdrew it in the face of Democratic opposition. Sessions’ entire professional career has been shaped by the belief that impartial justice is the glue that holds a free society together.”

“In the end, Congress may do the right thing and put the principle of rule-of-law above a politically-driven amnesty,” Carafano concluded optimistically. “If that happens, no one will deserve more credit than the not so quiet lion from Alabama.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Sessions: House leaders should oppose — not join — Obama’s immigration push

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama

Republican leaders in the United States House of Representatives on Thursday released a document outlining the “principles” they are sticking to as they approach immigration reform.

Among the principles is a promise to put border security and “interior enforcement” first.

But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., says the House leaders’ “principles” are nothing more than recycled talking points used by Senate Democrats for years, and that amnesty will be granted before enforcement comes into play.

Sen. Sessions full response to the House GOP leadership’s immigration principles can be read below:

Once again, we have the same recycled talking points—crafted, it would appear, with the help of the same consultants and special interests. Each time, the talking points are followed by legislation that fails to match the promises — legislation that, at bottom, ensures only the amnesty and not the enforcement. The leadership talking points look like an attempted repackaging of the tired Gang-of-Eight-style formula that has been proposed, rejected, and re-proposed for years. It is no surprise then that Senator Schumer and former Speaker Pelosi are so encouraged by these developments. But while Democrat leaders and interest groups appear satisfied, this document was not voted upon by the GOP conference and clearly does not represent the consensus of Republican members. Is it not time we pushed aside the stale proposals stitched together in concert with the same lobbyists, and asked what is in the best interests of the hardworking American citizen—and the nation?

In three fundamental respects, the House leaders’ emerging immigration proposal appears to resemble the Senate plan: it provides the initial grant of amnesty before enforcement; it would surge the already unprecedented level of legal lesser-skilled immigration to the U.S. that is reducing wages and increasing unemployment; and it would offer eventual citizenship to a large number of illegal immigrants and visa overstays.

Rank-and-file House Republicans are the last line of defense for working Americans. Now is the time for rank-and-file House Republicans to claim the leadership mantle and to say, firmly: our goal is to transition millions of struggling Americans from welfare and joblessness to work and rising wages. The President has not only dismantled enforcement but has delivered for a small group of special interests and CEOs by forcing through the Senate legislation that drastically surges the future flow of new immigrant workers competing against unemployed Americans. There is a reason why these increases are never mentioned in the slick TV ads and radio spots: the American people reject them. Americans earning under $30,000 prefer a reduction to an increase in current record immigration levels by a 3-1 margin. Republicans have the chance to be the one party giving voice to the real-world concerns of the everyday worker whose wages have been flat or falling for more than 10 years.

House leaders should support — not ignore — the immigration officers pleading for help. They should stand with — not against — unemployed American workers. And they should expose — not join — the President’s campaign to pass an immigration plan that will hollow out our shrinking middle class.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

4 years ago

Sessions: House GOP must stand with American workers on immigration

(Above: Sen. Jeff Sessions discusses immigration reform with Gretchen Carlson)

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The Real Story w/Gretchen Carlson” today and encouraged House Republicans to oppose comprehensive immigration reform that would expand America’s guest worker program.

“We really do have a huge problem,” Sessions told Carlson. “We have the lowest percentage of Americans actually working today than since 1975. Wages have declined in America relative to inflation since 2000. American working people are hurting. Many of the jobs created today are part-time. So it makes no sense to me at all to see a dramatic increase in the legal flow of immigration while we’re not even reducing the illegal flow.”

President Obama is expected to focus on immigration reform and income inequality in his State of the Union address tomorrow night, but Sessions said he doubts the president will discuss the damaging effects his immigration proposals could have on American workers.

“I think it is a huge problem and I think the president needs to talk about it tomorrow,” Sessions quipped, “but I doubt that he will.”

But the President is not Sessions’ main concern. Alabama’s junior senator said he’s most worried that Republican leaders in the House will go along with what the president is trying to do.

“Republicans in the House need to stand up for the American worker,” Sessions said firmly. “Their interests are being ignored. The big government groups, the special interest groups, the lobbying groups — they’re all out in full force. Somebody needs to stand up for [the workers]. The Party that does that will be rewarded by the American people in elections… The right thing is to slow down the growth of this immigration flow into America, create a lawful system, make sure the people who come here are able to prosper here and it serves our national interests… and make no apology for making sure we’re not going to flood this nation with more workers than we have jobs for.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_SimsJeff Sessions with Gretchen Carlson

5 years ago

Roby responds to budget blowback, moves to protect military pensions

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery

A day after Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, took to Facebook to address constituents upset over her support of the Ryan-Murray budget deal, she is moving to replace one of the plan’s least popular provisions and ensure that military retirees are not unfairly penalized under the new law.

Roby is partnering with Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-PA, to repeal a provision that reduces working-age military pensions beginning in 2015 and replace it with a measure to prevent illegal aliens from receiving fraudulent cash payments from the government in the form of the Refundable Child Tax Credit.

“There are many good things in the budget agreement passed by Congress: setting a sustainable path of controlled federal spending, preventing some of the harmful sequestration cuts to our military, and returning Congress to regular order to end the days of massive temporary spending bills passed at the last minute,” Roby said in a statement. “However, the final product was not what I would have drafted, and House members were not given the opportunity to improve the bill through amendments on the floor. One provision that is particularly troublesome is the one percent reduction in the cost of living adjustment for working age military retirees beginning in 2015. Just look at the vast federal government that is rife with waste. Are reductions to military benefits really the best place for Congress to make cuts? I don’t think so, and I that’s why I believe that provision should be removed.”

The legislation introduced today in the House – H.R. 3788 – is a compliment to an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, during debate on the budget plan in the Senate. It removes the cost-of-living increase reduction and replaces it with a measure closing a tax loophole that allows ineligible, non-citizens to receive fraudulent cash payments in the form of a Refundable Child Tax Credit.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that closing this loophole by simply requiring the recipients of this taxpayer-funded credit to be eligible citizens would save as much as $7 billion, more than enough to offset the $6 billion gleaned from altering military retiree pensions.

According to a 2011 report form the Treasury Inspector General, “Millions of people are seeking this tax credit who, we believe, are not entitled to it. We have made recommendations to the IRS as to how they could address this, and they have not taken sufficient action in our view to solve the problem.”

The Treasury Inspector General went on to say that “the payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts Federal law and policy to remove such incentives.”

Roby acknowledged Sen. Sessions’ efforts to amend the Ryan-Murray budget deal before it was passed. Sessions’ amendment was blocked by Democrat leaders in the Senate who would not allow any amendments to the bill to be considered.

“Today I am joining Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and others in the House to offer a companion bill to Sen. Sessions’ commonsense amendment,” Roby said. “I believe that this is a fix the Republican Conference can rally around. I have personally contacted the House leadership this morning to give voice to the concerns of military retirees in my district who feel singled out by the budget agreement. I am strongly encouraging our leaders to use the Christmas week as an opportunity to build support for this or similar legislation so that we can pass it upon our return in January. In my opinion, it should be the first item on the docket for 2014.”

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5 years ago

Sessions fights to save veterans benefits ahead of budget vote

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, has spent the last several days fighting to undo cuts to veterans benefits that are included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal, which was passed by the House last week.

The current legislation cuts veterans benefits by $6 billion over the next decade.

The Senate is set to vote on the bill Tuesday morning. Both Sen. Sessions and fellow Alabamian Sen. Richard Shelby have said they are opposed to the current bill.

Although it sailed through the House on a bipartisan vote of 332-94, Senate Democratic leaders indicated over the weekend that the bill’s passage is far from secured in the upper chamber.

“The struggle is still on in the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told Fox News on Sunday.

But progress was made on Monday, leading aides on both sides of the aisle to predict that they will have the 60 votes needed to pass a procedural motion on Tuesday. They will then move move for final passage later in the week, which requires only a simple majority.

Many Senate Republicans have cited the fact that the budget deal exceeds the Budget Control Act of 2011 as grounds for opposing it. The Budget Control Act capped 2014 discretionary spending at $967 billion. The Ryan-Murray budget smashes through that cap.

“I’d really like to stay within the (spending) caps,” complained Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas. “This busts the caps and as a result I’ll vote against it.”

But Sessions and several of his Republican colleagues have chosen to focus their attention on the cuts to military retirees and vets.

“We need to find a better way to save $6 billion than take it out of the hides of our retired veterans,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi.

Sessions’ plan to rescue veterans benefits involves saving money by closing a tax credit loophole that watchdog groups say has been frequently exploited by illegal immigrants.

The fix is simple. Applicants seeking to receive the child tax credit would have to submit their Social Security numbers. That way the IRS could easily weed out the illegal aliens taking advantage of the system. Sessions’ amendment would save the federal government roughly $4.2 billion, freeing up room for veterans benefits to remain at higher levels.

The handwringing in D.C. has already commenced with a budget deadline looming on Jan. 15. If a deal is not reached by then, another partial government shutdown will ensue.

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5 years ago

Brooks only ‘no’ vote among Alabama delegation on Ryan-Murray budget deal

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville

Late Thursday, the U.S. House approved a budget deal brokered between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., by a bipartisan 332-94 margin.

Alabama’s congressional delegation reflected that vote, with the lone “no” vote coming from Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville.

“While parts of the Murray-Ryan spending deal are attractive, its two-year effects are financially irresponsible,” Brooks said in a statement released Friday morning. “America suffers from a $17 trillion debt and five years of deficits averaging more than $1 trillion/year. Interest on America’s debt exceeds $250 billion/year and is projected by the CBO to reach $800 billion/year within a decade, thus jeopardizing our ability to pay for national security, Social Security, and every other federal program.”

“Over the next two years, America’s projected deficit approximates $1.5 trillion,” he continued. “The Murray-Ryan spending deal piles another $60 billion in debt onto an already bad deficit situation, making America’s finances worse, not better.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen warns that debt is our greatest national security threat.  America’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro warns that America’s deficit and debt path is ‘unsustainable’.  Prudence and common sense dictate that America heed these warnings and act responsibly.  The Murray-Ryan spending deal does neither and is the wrong path to follow.”

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, the state’s lone Democrat, voted along with her Republican colleagues, but qualified her support for the budget resolution by saying it fell short in some areas.

“Today, I voted in favor of H.J. Res 59, the bipartisan budget agreement because it represents an important first step towards fiscal responsibility while mitigating the effects of sequester cuts,” Sewell said in a statement. “After more than three years of partisan brinkmanship, Democrats and Republicans have come together to pass a budget that replaces almost two-thirds of the sequester without cutting Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits. This bipartisan budget compromise sends an important message to the American people that we can and should work together. While I am optimistic about this progress, I am very disappointed that this agreement fails to extend unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

Republicans are preparing to procedurally filibuster the bill in the Senate, leaving it’s passage in question.  Ranking Senate Budget Committee Republican Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, criticized the agreement for not doing enough to curb spending levels.

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5 years ago

Sessions opposes Ryan-Murray budget deal

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced a breakthrough on what could be the first federal budget passed by Congress since April 29, 2009.

However, Murray’s counterpart on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, won’t be supporting the agreement. In a statement released by his office late Wednesday afternoon, Sessions laid out his reasons for not supporting the Ryan-Murray deal.

“A series of concerns, on balance, cause me to be unable to support the legislation produced by Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray, including:

  • While I favor reorganizing elements of the Budget Control Act to smooth the impact, I do not favor increasing total discretionary spending above what was agreed to over the 10-year BCA period (exchanged for the already-exhausted $2.1 trillion debt increase in 2011).
  • I specifically do not favor using trust fund savings to increase discretionary spending.
  • Much of the spending increase in this deal has been justified by increased fees and new revenue. In other words: it’s a fee increase to fuel a spending increase—rather than reducing deficits.
  • Disappointingly, CBO’s analysis states that $47 billion out of the $85 billion in offsets occur outside the original BCA window, and the spending cut portion of those outyear offsets are of dubious validity. It is not disputable that net spending in the BCA window is increased.”

According to Sessions, previously budget resolutions passed by the two chambers were not acted upon in this agreement. Sessions also said the agreement doesn’t constitute a budget. He did, however, praise the members for their work.

“Senate and House budget resolutions were committed to Conference,” Sessions added. “They were not acted on. The result is legislation from Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray, leaving Congress without a budget resolution for the fourth straight year. This legislation is not a budget and was never formally considered, crafted, or voted upon by the conferees. I appreciate the hard work Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray put into their deal, but I am not able to support it.”

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5 years ago

Defense & Intelligence heavyweight coming to Alabama Monday

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX

Alabama’s Maxwell Air Force base will play host to one of the country’s top defense and intelligence leaders next week in House Armed Service Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry.

Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Mike Rogers, R-Sachs, recently invited Thornberry to visit Alabama. At the time, both Roby and Rogers were members of the Armed Services Committee. Roby has since then landed a spot on the coveted Appropriations Committee, which has broad oversight over government spending levels for the military as well as all other areas of the federal government. In taking that position, Roby gave up her spot on Armed Services and a couple of other committees.

The visit from Thornberry, which is a big deal for Alabama’s military installations, is even more important now as Thornberry is well-positioned to take over as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Current chairman Buck McKeon, R-CA, is nearing retirement and has publicly backed Thornberry as his successor.

Yellowhammer caught up with Thornberry this morning by phone to hear why it was important for him to schedule a time to visit Alabama.

“I’m coming, first of all, because Martha and Mike invited me, and they’re important to me. I’ve been hearing about Maxwell for years, but you can’t have a full appreciation for some things without seeing them first hand,” Thornberry said. “I want to learn how sequestration and other budget cuts are effecting Maxwell specifically. The military has been through a lot recently, and I need to see how things are going on the ground.”

The Armed Services Committee writes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) every year, which authorizes the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. That makes Thornberry a particularly important player when it comes to Alabama’s military bases and the economic impact they have on the state.

“I’m currently vice chairman on the committee, so I work in partnership with the chairman on everything the committee does. He’s been great about making it a true partnership. I’m also chairman of the subcommittee that oversees military intelligence, special operations, research and development, cyber security and a lot of things that focus on the future. Space and other things are important to me — the present and future domain of warfare, as well as cyber. In addition to that, I’m the second ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. Having all of those responsibilities helps me get a full picture of everything that’s going on.”

Thornberry said that he was disappointed to lose Roby as a member of Armed Services, but believes her transition to Appropriations will allow her to play and even bigger role in supporting Alabama’s military mission.

“I’m sorry to lose her. I was in the room when they voted her in as a new member of Appropriations and I almost had a ‘speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace’ moment,” Thornberry joked. “But Appropriations plays a key role in Armed Services. It’s great to have someone who really understands national security issues on the Appropriations committee, and Martha definitely does. On top of that, Mike Rogers is still on Armed Services. He’s really a key player. He’s not shy about speaking up for Maxwell and the other military installations in Alabama.”

Rep. Thornberry will be in Montgomery on Monday.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

5 years ago

House passes Bachus-cosponsored ‘Innovation Act’

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, also known as the “Innovation Act.” The bill had 16 cosponsors, including Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, and passed overwhelmingly by a 325-91 vote.

According to a release from Bachus’ office, the bill aims to thwart abusive litigation practices of so-called “patent trolls,” who claim intellectual ownership of products and services developed by legitimate inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

“This is a jobs and competitiveness issue for our economy,” Bachus said. “Every dollar drained from inventors and entrepreneurs by frivolous and abusive litigation is a dollar that cannot be used to develop a new idea and grow.  We have to be concerned about how many potential ‘Apples’ will never get past the seedling stage because of these unwarranted costs.”

The bill came out of the Judiciary Committee, where Bachus serves as the chairman of the Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law subcommittee.

The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has a competing version of the bill that is currently pending.

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5 years ago

Nation’s largest pro-life group endorses Byrne for Congress

Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile
Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life organization representing more than 3,000 chapters across the country, announced today that they are have endorsed Bradley Byrne in the December 17 special election for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

Byrnes pro-life credentials include opposing federal funding for abortion and supporting the immediate repeal of what his campaign says is an “abortion-expanding” ObamaCare law. While in the Alabama Senate, Byrne also introduced legislation that made it a separate crime to injure or kill an unborn child while committing a crime involving the mother.

“National Right to Life is pleased to endorse you for election in the December 17 special election to represent Alabama’s First Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives,” NRLC said in their endorsement letter to Byrne. “You are a strong advocate for life. You support pro-life legislation and you oppose the use of federal funds for abortion… This endorsement reflects your commitment to strengthening a culture of life throughout the nation and in the U.S. Congress. All voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family should vote to send you to the U.S. House, where you can work to advance vital pro-life public policies.”

In response to the letter, Byrne said he is “honored to receive the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee, an organization with a long history of defending the right to life for all persons. As a Christian conservative, I believe protecting the rights of the unborn is one of the most solemn responsibilities the people of Alabama can entrust to their elected officials. It is critical that South Alabama’s next Congressman fights to uphold these conservative values. If elected, that is exactly what I plan to do.”

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5 years ago

It’s official: Roby joins powerful House Appropriations Committee

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery

Yellowhammer was the first to break the news last month that Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, was close to being appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, and today it became official.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, announced today that three Republicans will be added to his committee. Reps. Mark Amodei, R-Nevada, and Chris Stewart, R-Utah, will join Roby as the newest members of the committee, which is widely viewed as one of the most powerful in Congress.

“I am honored to accept a position on the House Committee on Appropriations, and I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have placed in me by selecting me to serve in this capacity,” Roby said. “Appropriations has oversight on the whole range of government spending. This new role provides a unique opportunity to push for the kind of conservative spending priorities that will put us on a sustainable financial path for future generations.”

With this appointment, Roby will have to give up her seat on the House Armed Services Committee, House Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee. However, she believes the broad oversight of the Appropriations Committee will allow her to make a more significant impact on policy, especially with regard to federal government spending.

“Congress is working in a budget-constrained environment for the foreseeable future, and we must make sure every dollar spent is spent wisely,” said Roby. “After numerous discussions with senior colleagues in Congress and stakeholders in my state, I’m convinced having a seat on the Appropriations Committee will afford me more – not less – influence on issues that matter to the people of Alabama’s Second District.”

Chairman Rogers released a statement today welcoming the new members of his committee.

“I am pleased to welcome Representatives Amodei, Roby, and Stewart to the Committee, and look forward to working side-by-side with them as we tackle our formidable work ahead,” Rogers said. “Members of the Appropriations Committee have tough jobs to do, and have a great responsibility to properly fund the federal government and support the well-being of the nation. These dedicated public servants have proven their commitment to the responsible shepherding of federal tax dollars, to the regular Appropriations process, and to both the people of their districts and the American people as a whole.”

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5 years ago

Sessions: ‘There is not a labor shortage, there is a jobs shortage’

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile

WASHINGTON – On Monday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, blasted President Obama and a small group of CEOs who have allied with him to push comprehensive immigration reform, and urged the GOP-controlled House to stand strong against them.

“House leaders must lay out clearly to the American people the President’s dismal record on immigration,” Sessions said in a statement. “During his time in office, the President has systematically dismantled interior enforcement, handcuffing immigration officers and bypassing Congress. These facts—drawn from the testimony from immigration officers themselves—should be clearly documented before the whole nation. No agreement should be entered into while such lawlessness continues.”

Sessions particularly warned against the economic impact of comprehensive immigration reform, expressing concerns that a flood of new workers into the labor force would be damaging to the economy.

“[T]he President must be asked — by media and lawmakers alike — how he can possibly justify a plan that will double the flow of immigrant workers at a time when 91.5 million Americans are outside the labor force?” Sessions continued. “Indeed, as the President makes his immigration remarks he is preparing to hold a fundraiser with Silicon Valley executives, a group clamoring for more guest workers at a time when nearly half of recent college grads are underemployed. Wages are flat and falling for U.S. workers — the clearest evidence that there is not a labor shortage, but a jobs shortage.”

As The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro pointed out earlier today, progressive and business groups have spent more than $1.5 billion since 2007 “on advocacy and lobbying” for a comprehensive immigration bill at a time when the unemployment rate is through the roof. Sessions urged his congressional colleagues to resist these efforts to manipulate U.S. immigration policy to be tailored to these very narrow interests.

“America is not an oligarchy,” Sessions added. “Congressional leaders must forcefully reject the notion, evidently accepted by the President, that a small cadre of CEOs can tailor the nation’s entire immigration policy to suit their narrow interests. A Republic must answer to the people.”

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5 years ago

Former Democrat congressman: all our ObamaCare concerns in 2009 were ignored

Former Democrat Congressman Artur Davis
Former Democrat Congressman Artur Davis

Back in 2009 and 2010, former Alabama Democratic Rep. Artur Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would later become known as ObamaCare.

Davis suffered politically and endured searing criticisms from his fellow Democrats at the time. Jesse Jackson went as far as to say that he could not see how Davis could vote against the law and still call himself a black man.

Yellowhammer News contacted Davis this week, almost three years after he voted against the president’s signature piece of legislation, to see if he felt vindicated in his opposition to ObamaCare now that its rollout has been such a disaster.

According to Davis, who has since become a Republican and now resides in northern Virginia, some Democrats predicted serious problems with the president’s healthcare law. However, their concerns were ignored by House Democratic leadership.

“Look, most of the failings in the Affordable Care Act were easily foreseeable in 2009 and in 2010 when the legislation was passed — every single one of them,” Davis said. “I remember being on the Ways & Means Committee when a lot of the bill was drafted. I remember there being a lot of policy discussions with Democratic members of Congress and Democratic staffers about what this legislation would look like and how it would play out in the real world. Virtually everything that has gone wrong with this act was not only foreseeable, it was something that was talked about and something that was anticipated. But for a variety of reasons — political and otherwise — Democratic leadership chose to go ahead with the bill anyway.”

When congressional Democrats asked their leadership what would happen to people who had existing health insurance plans, Davis said they were fed the now infamous line, “If they like their plan, they can keep their plan.”

“In 2009 when the bill was being drafted, a number of Democratic members raised the basic question, ‘what’s going to happen to people who have existing insurance plans?’ The response from advocates of the bill was, ‘Well those people will be able to keep their coverage,’ but that never quite made sense,” Davis said. “One of the elements of the bill specifically said every private insurance plan would be measured by this new government test to determine whether it was adequate or sufficient. All of a sudden this would become one of the few consumer products on the market where the federal government was deciding your choice as a consumer as to whether something was right or not for you and your family.”

“If you’re going to put a provision in a plan that says that some insurance plans will be deemed not qualified, well, what’s going to happen to a plan that’s deemed not qualified?” he continued. “An insurer is going to drop coverage. They’re not going to automatically reenroll you in some magic new plan. They’re going to drop coverage and make you have to select a qualified plan. That was foreseeable in 2009 and 2010. The notion that some companies would drop coverage because it would make more economic sense for them to do that than to sustain coverage — that was easily foreseeable in 2009 and 2010. The notion that the Cadillac tax in the plan might push companies to downsize the scope of the plan they provided or to charge higher premiums to their employees — that was something that was easily foreseeable and something that was discussed in 2009 and 2010.”

Davis also said the concerns were raised inside the Democratic caucus as the whether the website would be able to handle all of the new enrollees converging on the site on the day enrollment opened.

“Questions were even raised about what would happen when all of these people become eligible for the exchanges on a certain date and all try to enroll. Could we guarantee that it would happen in a seamless fashion? That question was raised in 2009 and 2010 and I vividly recall there being a lot of uncertainty among Democratic members. ‘What happens if people don’t figure this out? What happens if people don’t get on the exchanges? What happens if they don’t participate?’

“So I don’t actually view any of these developments as some unexpected consequences that have fallen out of the sky,” Davis said in conclusion. “Virtually every one of them was anticipated and discussed and ultimately ignored.”

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5 years ago

Harbert executive Will Brooke announces run for congress

Will Brooke, Republican candidate for Alabama's sixth congressional district
Will Brooke, Republican candidate for Alabama’s sixth congressional district

Will Brooke, executive vice president and managing partner of Harbert Management Corporation, announced this morning that he is running as a Republican for Alabama’s sixth congressional district seat.

Brooke joined Harbert Corporation and its affiliates as Vice President and General Counsel in August of 1991, and served as their Chief Operating Officer from 1995 until 2001. Before his employment with Harbert, Brooke was founder and Managing Partner of the Birmingham law firm, Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff and Brandt, and an attorney with the Burr & Forman law firm in Birmingham. He’s also a former chairman of the Business Council of Alabama.

He was deeply involved in the successful efforts to reform the Alabama Supreme Court in the 1990s, and was Chairman of ProgressPAC in 2010 when the Alabama Legislature elected its first Republican majority in over 100 years.

Brooke told Yellowhammer in an exclusive interview Tuesday morning that the skills he’s built over the years being in leadership positions with businesses and community organizations have prepared him to represent the sixth district.

“Washington is dysfunctional,” Brooke said. “I’ve had a lifetime of opportunities to build skills that I can put to use in Washington for the people of the sixth district. There’s a desperate need for leadership in Washington. I’m a strong, common sense conservative. I operate on principle, not polls. I have been privileged to have a leadership role in a lot of different organizations — from businesses to charitable organizations and community organizations. I’ve worked on everything from science and technology, to business, to social matters. All of those things give me a perspective that few other candidates are able to bring to the table. It’ll allow me to provide the kind of leadership that the sixth district needs in Congress.”

Brooke has over the past several weeks been quietly rallying support for a congressional run. His candidacy could drastically alter the landscape of the race. His personal financial resources will be unmatched among the current field, and unlike most first-time candidates, his fundraising ability is not in question. The relationships he’s built in the business community over the last couple of decades will serve him well as he solicits support.

“It’s a strength for me,” Brooke said when asked about his fundraising ability. “I’m going to have to count on a broad base of support of friends and people throughout the district. My wife, Maggie, and I deeply believe in what we’re doing and we’re going to invest in the campaign, but it’s the support of others that will make it work.”

Brooke said that Washington’s out-of-control spending is without question the top issue for his campaign.

“The need to cut spending is incredibly important. That’s job number one,” Brooke said. “It’s also very important that we focus on the needs of the sixth district and how we can promote economic development and improve opportunities for people to get good paying jobs and create opportunities for the future. Constituent services will be a big focus for us as well.”

Recent Republican primaries have been framed as battles between Tea Party candidates and business candidates — Chamber of Commerce-types and the grassroots. When asked about the perceived rift in the Republican Party, Brooke said he’s confident he could be a unifying force.

“I can absolutely bridge that gap,” Brooke said. “I don’t think the rift is that serious. As long as the candidate stays focused on needs of district as a whole, we can get beyond that.”

Brooke joins State Rep. Paul DeMarco, orthopedic surgeon Chad Mathis and Alabama Policy Institute founder Gary Palmer as an officially announced candidate.

The sixth congressional district seat is currently held by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills. After over two decades in Congress, Bachus announced in late September that he will not seek another term in 2014.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

5 years ago

Alabama Republicans unanimous in support of ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act’

(Above: the final moments of the House vote on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act”)

On Friday afternoon, the U.S. House passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, allowing individuals to keep their private health insurance plans even if those plans don’t meet the ObamaCare coverage requirements. Every Republican in Alabama’s congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill, which ultimately passed with bipartisan support by a 261-157 vote.

“America is over six weeks into the ObamaCare rollout and things are just a mess,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, said on the House floor prior to the vote. “Families are being forced into different and oftentimes more expensive plans… One person contacted me and said their premiums went up $200 a month. Another family contacted me and their policy premiums are going up $740 per month. The president promised from the beginning, quote, ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period,’ closed quote. But that’s turned out not to be the case and he knew it all along.”

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, called ObamaCare “one of the biggest political fiascos that I have ever seen.”

“The President made a promise to the American people,” Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, added. “And now the House of Representatives has moved to provide legislative reassurance that if Americans like their health care plans, they will truly be able to keep them.”

Support for the GOP’s bill was so overwhelming that even some Democrats — 39 to be exact — were eager to go on record voting in favor of it. But President Obama had already issued a veto threat before the vote, meaning the legislation is very unlikely to become law.

The president has proposed a “fix” that would allow only individuals whose health insurance was cancelled this year to re-enroll in their plans next year. But the GOP’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, allows insurers to continue offering the same plans that were available before ObamaCare rules went into effect. Upton’s bill is also not only limited to a single year.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, was the only member of the Alabama delegation to vote against Upton’s bill.

Cliff Sims & Adam Thomas contributed to this report
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Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_PoorUnited States Capitol

5 years ago

Roby shares Alabamians’ ObamaCare horror stories on floor of US House

(Above: Rep. Martha Roby shares constituent’s ObamaCare horror stories on the floor of the U.S. House)

WASHINGTON – After asking constituents to send her their ObamaCare horror stories last week, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, this morning took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and detailed some of the stories to her colleagues.

Roby began by recounting some of the promises that President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on.

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away no matter what,” Roby said, quoting the president. “Mr. Speaker, we now know this wasn’t true.”

She then offered proof from Alabama’s second congressional district.

“Allison Strickland, a wife and homeschooling mother of four writes: We are a family of six with one income, and our premiums doubled from $420 to $940 a month. We are already under great financial strain, and this is not helping relieve any of the tension. At this point, we are unsure about what we are going to do. With four growing children we know insurance is vital, but at what cost to the daily needs of our family? We are very disappointed in the Obama administration.”

“Sean Cunningham of Montgomery writes: I am a married father of two beautiful little girls. My jaw dropped when I found out my family’s premium was going from $400 a month to $722. I called Blue Cross first thing Monday morning, but I was told I needed to contact for assistance. After six hours with them on the phone trying to apply for a subsidy, I did manage to find out that there was a cheaper premium. I could choose the ‘blue-saver bronze at a rate of $545 per month, which was still an increase over the plan I liked. The other problem? My individual deductible would be $6,350. And my family deductible would be $12,700. I fail to see anything affordable about this.”

“Chris Dukovich of Montgomery was notified that my policy was not ACA compliant. Paying $390 for family coverage. Just found out comparable plan, silver, would be $704. My out-of-pocket went up, so did deductibles and co-pays. We make too much money and will not qualify for, nor do I want, a subsidy.”

“Lee Hayswhite of Montgomery: Our premium went up to $1,374 a month.”

“Angela Zacchini of Greenville: Our family of four is paying $417 a month and it is going to $765 a month.”

“Jim Harroll of Prattville: My doctor retired and told me that he was not going to deal with the changes in the Affordable Care Act. So I could not keep my doctor. Both of my adult daughters got letters indicating their policies were canceled due to not meeting all the requirements of the new law. New policies being issued will be will 33 percent more expensive. One has a specialist doctor who is now going to charge patients a costly fee upfront each year and pay for services rendered. All of these effects are negative to my family.”

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