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Byrne: Year in Review

Bradley Byrne

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Bradley Byrne

By U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1) 

When I was elected to Congress last December, I vowed to hit the ground running from day one to make Southwest Alabama a better place to live, work and raise a family. In honor of the New Year, I wanted to take this opportunity to look back at some of the highlights from my first year in Congress.

My first legislative action was to cosponsor H.R. 3121, the American Health Care Reform Act, which repeals ObamaCare and replaces it with common-sense, market based reforms. Throughout the past year, I have repeatedly supported legislation designed to repeal and reform ObamaCare and actually make health care more affordable and accessible for middle class families.

I received positions on two committees vitally important to our area: the Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. These assignments were a victory for South Alabama jobs. After speaking with friends and neighbors in our community, we concluded that these were the two avenues where we could do the most good for our home.

In March, I voted in support of H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. This bill slowed down the pace of rate hikes for coastal Alabama residents, allowing time to ensure that sound science is being used to create federal flood maps.

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A few weeks later, I accepted a position on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Education is an issue that is a passion of mine, and I have seen firsthand how the federal government’s intrusions can hamper student success. The Committee also put me on a strong position to promote job training programs and fight back against the activist National Labor Relations Board.

In April, after it was announced the Red Snapper season in federal waters would only last nine days, I introduced my first standalone piece of legislation: the SNAPR Act. The legislation would repeal Section 407(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which mandates inflexible quotas on recreational and commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico.

In May, following the heartbreaking scandal at VA medical facilities around the country, I joined many of my colleagues in calling on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Weeks later, Secretary Shinseki resigned and was replaced by Robert McDonald. Around the same time, Congress passed the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act. Most importantly, the bill included reforms to increase veteran access to private care, but more work is certainly needed.

In June, I held my 25th town hall meeting in Lillian. Since then, we have held even more town hall meetings brining to the total number to over 30. In addition to holding the in-person town hall meetings, I also held telephone town halls and answered questions from constituents during a Facebook town hall.

In response to many outrageous executive overreaches by President Obama and his administration, I supported a lawsuit against the President in July. Everywhere I go, I hear the same thing over and over again: This President will not stay within the bounds of the Constitution of the United States or the laws passed by this body and the Senate. I wish a lawsuit wasn’t necessary, but I believed it was one of the best ways to rein in the out-of-control executive.

Also in July, the Federal Highway Administration finally released the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the I-10 Mobile River bridge project. This step was almost ten years in the making, and it represented a significant breakthrough in the process of getting a bridge built. I will continue pushing for this project which is critically important to our entire region.

In August, in response to a dangerous influx of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, I voted for legislation that would boost border security and end one of President Obama’s amnesty programs. President Obama’s continued threat of executive action has only exacerbated the problem of illegal immigration, and I look forward to a serious debate early next year on the immigration issue.

This fall, I traveled to the Middle East to meet with United States military personnel and visit with foreign leaders. During the trip, I made stops in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. One common theme I picked up on during the trip was the lack of United States leadership and a clear strategy in the region. Whether it is ISIS in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Africa, or al-Qaeda throughout the Middle East, Islamic extremists are on the rise.

Most recently, we were able to secure funding for the construction of four new Littoral Combat Ships, which are built in part by Austal in Mobile. The same week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the current LCS variants will be modified instead of creating a new ship design. This means the Navy will continue building ships in Mobile for a long time.

There is no doubt many challenges remain, but I am proud of the many accomplishments from my first year in Congress. As we head into the New Year, I will continue advocating for our shared conservative values and fighting for Alabama jobs. It is an honor to represent you in Congress.

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Opinion | Americans are better off now

Bradley Byrne

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Two years ago, I joined other Republican House members in unveiling our “Better Way” agenda. The agenda covered everything from national security to tax reform to the economy. It was a bold vision about a different path for America that wasn’t driven by a larger, more powerful federal government. Instead, we advocated for a better way where we got government out of the way and allowed the American people to flourish.

 Working with President Trump, we have held true to our promises to the American people. Two years later and with many parts of the agenda in place, we can safely say that Americans are better off now. Our communities are safer. The economy is booming. Our military is being rebuilt. Our “Better Way” is paying off.

 Our communities are safer because we have made supporting law enforcement a top priority. We have passed historic legislation to address the opioid crisis, which is having a horrible impact on communities in Alabama and throughout the country. In addition to better policy, we have invested $4 billion in grants and programs to help combat the opioid crisis.

 We passed legislation to devote more resources to school safety, and we have made real progress in the fight against human trafficking. In fact, we have seen a 60 percent decline in online advertising for sex trafficking.

Also, important to keeping our communities safe, we set aside $1.5 billion for physical barriers and technology along the southern border and provided for over 90 miles of a border wall system. Border security is national security.

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No one can deny that the American economy is booming. Just consider these numbers: 90 percent of Americans are seeing larger paychecks under our tax reform bill. 3.7 million jobs have been created since November 2016. There are 6.6 million job openings in the United States as of May 2018, meaning more jobs than job seekers. And, $4.1 billion has been saved in agency regulatory costs by rolling back burdensome government regulations.

 One of my biggest concerns during the Obama Administration was the hollowing out of our military. We had planes that couldn’t fly and ships that couldn’t sail. We were not making the continuous critical investment in our military necessary to keep up with our adversaries. Thankfully, those days are over.

 We have made the largest investment in our military in 15 years. This means 20,000 new troops, the largest pay increase for our service members since 2010, more training time, better equipment, new ships, and much more.

 On the world stage, countries know that the United States means what we say. ISIS is on the run in the Middle East, North Korea has come to the negotiating table, and China is being held accountable for their dangerous trade practices.

 Now, I want to make clear that much work remains. For example, we have to keep working to fix our broken immigration system and ensure that our borders are finally secure. We also cannot give up on our efforts to improve health care in our country. Costs remain too high and rural communities right here in Alabama are facing dangerous hospital closures.

 But, despite what some on the other side of the aisle and the national news media want you to believe, the American people are better off now than they were two years ago. That’s a testament to our pro-growth agenda, but, more importantly, it is a testament to the spirit and drive of the American people.

Want to know more? I encourage you to visit Better.gop to learn more about the various ways the American people are better off now.

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Opinion | Pro-Life Movement momentum is strong

Martha Roby

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As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have the privilege each year to advocate for the priorities most important to the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District.  Among many other key issues, I have been proud to stand up and fight for a strong military and smart agriculture policy on this committee. On the reverse, I am also in a strong position fight against funding from being steered towards programs or organizations that I adamantly oppose. Recently when the Appropriations Committee approved our Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill, I had the opportunity to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves: the unborn.

As a member of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, I am extremely proud to report that our bill passed by the full Committee includes the strong pro-life language I have fought for year after year and implements additional policy riders to defend life. Every single one of these measures is critically important and further ensures that no taxpayer dollars can be used for abortions.

Among the key pro-life provisions included in the Labor-HHS FY19 funding bill are the Hyde Amendment, which directs that no taxpayer dollars be used to fund abortions, and the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bans Labor-HHS funding from being used on research that harms human embryos.

In addition to these longstanding pro-life measures, our bill also includes several other important pro-life provisions that continue our efforts to assign greater protections for life under the law. These measures include the Conscience Science Protection Act, which protects the rights of health care providers that do not participate in abortion.

In addition, the bill includes language that prohibits funding for fetal tissue research obtained from abortion. This measure might sound familiar because it is a direct response to the 2015 scandal that revealed how Planned Parenthood officials were systematically altering abortion procedures to preserve babies’ organs in order to sell them to researchers for profit. Planned Parenthood’s action was sick, callous, and completely inhuman.

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Finally, the bill includes language to prohibit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving any available funding, including through Title X family grants. This measure works hand-in-hand with the Trump Administration’s “Protect Life” rule, which also directs that Planned Parenthood is not eligible to receive Title X grant money. As I have said many, many times: Abortion is not family planning. Abortion is not health care. Organizations that offer these services should not receive taxpayer dollars that are intended for family planning.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have remained unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception, and our laws and policies should reflect a strong commitment to defending life at every stage. I have considered it a great privilege to have a platform with which I can serve as a voice for the voiceless.

After eight long years of coming up short pro-life victories, I am encouraged that we now have a President who supports our efforts and is willing to sign important measures into law. The pro-life movement’s momentum is strong, and I look forward to seeing it grow as we continue to impact meaningful change on behalf of the unborn. I am eager to support our Labor-HHS funding bill when it comes before the full House for a vote.

 Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.

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Opinion | Gerald Dial is a steady hand for Alabama

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Alabama’s economy is growing…but it can do so much more. The key is having the right leadership in all elected positions, people who have vision.

So far, Governor Kay Ivey has shown she has what it takes to make important changes and place our state in a position to win.

Did you know agriculture and forestry together are the biggest industry in Alabama? They contribute $70 billion each year toward the economy. Nearly 9 million acres and 600,000 Alabamians are involved in this huge business that benefits us all.

I would know; I was Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries several years back. During that time, we put Alabama’s top asset at the forefront of economic development.

John McMillian, our current commissioner who is term-limited and running for Treasurer, has done a good job, and now Alabama is at another crossroads. We need the next Ag Commissioner to find new and more ways to grow our state.

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Gerald Dial is just that person. He and I served together in the State Senate, and his Christian values and new ideas are exactly what Alabama needs right now. The key to making government work for the people is to have someone who can’t be bought but also knows how government works. Gerald Dial fits the bill, and I trust him explicitly.

Just recently Gerald Dial created a solution to a massive problem in our state – the opioid crisis. This pandemic is killing thousands of our citizens each year. Instead of sitting back and think it isn’t his problem, Gerald Dial petitioned the drug manufacturer, Kaleo, of naoxolene, an injection that can save someone experiencing an opioid overdose. The delivery device is called EVZIO.

The result is 1,744 FREE doses of an overdose-reversing drug to Alabama’s volunteer rescue squads to combat the opioid crisis. That $4 million donation to our rural first responders equates to nearly 2,000 lives that will be saved.

I could go on and on about Gerald Dial because he’s such a wonderful friend and effective public servant, but what I want to ask you is to support Gerald Dial in the July 17th Republican Primary Runoff for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

The powerful special interest groups in Montgomery don’t want Gerald elected, because they are scared he won’t take marching order like their preferred candidate. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know about Gerald Dial – the powerbrokers don’t want him, so I do!

Charles Bishop was a Republican member of the Alabama Senate. He represented District 5 from 2006 to 2010. The district covers portions of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties. He was elected as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for the term 1999 to 2003. 

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Byrne: Year in Review

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