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Army asks for $182 billion during Shelby subcommittee hearing

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, conducted a subcommittee hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2019 funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Army.

Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretar of the Army, and General Mike A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, testified before the Subcommittee. Shelby questioned Esper and General Milley on the Army’s modernization priorities and strategy, including Army Futures Command. The witnesses also provided an update on security forces and operations in Afghanistan.

Shelby concluded his questions by asking Secretary Esper and General Milley to discuss the Army’s continued modernization of its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, pointing out that adequate resourcing is critical to enabling the Army to fight and win.

“The Army is seeking $182.1 billion in its current request, which is an increase of about $5 billion over amounts appropriated for fiscal year 2018,” Shelby said. “With this budget request, the Army will continue to build readiness and counter threats posed by near-peer competitors while modernizing in order to face future threats. We acknowledge the challenging assignment you face to source an increasing demand for forces today while also modernizing to compete with more technically capable adversaries.”

At a recent appearance in Huntsville, Espers said, “By 2028, the total Army will need to reach 500K active Soldiers, with similar growth in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Most importantly, the future Army must “focus on recruiting and retaining high quality, physically fit, mentally tough Soldiers, who will deploy, fight and win decisively on any future battlefield,” Esper said.

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Unfortunately only 29 percent of the American people are fit, educated, and intelligent enough to enter the U.S. Army.

The future of Army training will be “tough, realistic, and dynamic,” Esper said, with a focus on urban operations — to include operating in megacities — and electronically harsh environments. To accomplish this, the new U.S. Army Futures Command must expand upon the synthetic training environment and implement a broad distribution of inter-connected simulation capabilities, Army-wide.

“A decade from now, our formations must be more robust, agile, and lethal,” Espers said. “We’ve already begun making these organizational changes. For example, we are increasing the capability of our formations, returning short-range air defense and multiple launch rocket systems battalions to our divisions.”

The modern Army must be equipped with the most advanced, capable and survivable combat systems industry can provide, Esper said. “A decade from now, preferably sooner, we will see our formations begin to fill with a variety of manned and unmanned combat vehicles, aircraft, sustainment systems and weapons.  Greater use of autonomous systems, robotics, and artificial intelligence promises to make our units more lethal, our Soldiers less vulnerable, and the Army far, far more effective.”

In October, the Army announced the creation of Futures Command, which is expected to be operational sometime this summer. The new command was will be the Army’s fourth command and will have equal footing with U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and U.S. Army Materiel Command. The Army is currently looking for a home for Futures Command.

Senator Richard Shelby was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He was elected as a Congressman in 1978 and as a State Senator in 1970. Shelby recently was appointed as Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. He also chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

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Byrne introduces bill to pay Coast Guard during school shutdown

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, announced legislation to ensure the members of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard retirees are paid during the current government shutdown.

The bill is known as the Always Ready Act. Congressman Byrne on January 9th and provides funding for members of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard retirees.

“I’m proud of the strong Coast Guard presence we have in Southwest Alabama,” Rep. Byrne said. “These men and women work hard and put their lives in danger in order to keep the American people safe. As we continue to fight for stronger border security and work to resolve the government shutdown, I believe members of the Coast Guard should be paid just as other members of the Armed Forces are paid. I hope the House and Senate will act swiftly on my bill, the Always Ready Act, to ensure members of the Coast Guard and their families receive the pay they deserve.”

The government has been in a partial shutdown since December 21. 800,000 federal employees have been affected. 420,000 government employees are required to go to work, even though they are not getting paid. Another 380,000 federal workers have been told to stay home for the past 24 days. Most of those 800,000 employees are not getting paid.

Defense Department employees were not impacted by the shutdown because their department was funded. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who protect this country from attack are still on duty and are getting paid. The Coast Guard however is considered a part of the Department of Homeland Security and that budget is unfunded. The Coast Guard, like the border patrol, the FBI, Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), air traffic controllers, and immigrations and customs enforcement (ICE) are still on duty protecting this country from threats of all sorts, even though many of those officers and workers are not getting paid.

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The Coast Guard is currently searching for two men who went on a fishing excursion in Mobile Bay and did not return. 83 year old Floyd Nelson and 40 year old David Stadman are still missing though their boat has been found capsized. The Coast Guard is mounting a rescue effort. Those Coast Guard members were paid a couple of weeks ago; but it is uncertain if the administration will find the funds to pay them again. Many government workers did not get their paycheck on Friday. Federal workers may have to come up with the money to keep their health insurance if this shutdown continues.

President Donald J. Trump (R) and congressional Republicans believe that the nation needs to build a wall on the southern border to limit the flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics into the country. Congressional Democrats are refusing to pass any government funding bills with funding for the wall. The President is reportedly considering declaring a national emergency on the southern border and using natural disaster funding to build the wall.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, accused the President of having a temper tantrum in their last meeting over ending the impasse.

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.

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Brooks cosponsors a number of border security bills

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, announced on Thursday that he has cosponsored seven different border security bills at the outset of the 116th Congress.

Brooks’ office shared federal crime data on crime committed by immigrants who illegally immigrated to the country. According to the crime data Brooks’ office shared, 117,500 undocumented immigrants are arrested for crimes committed each year.

He said they commit roughly 2,000 homicides, 50,000 physical assaults, 15,000 sex crimes, rapes, and other sexual assaults.

Additionally, 15,000 Americans are killed each year by heroin drug overdoses, and 90 percent of all the heroin that comes to America via our porous southern border (much of it transported by drug cartels and their illegal alien “mules”).

The reality, though, is that a number of studies have found that immigrants here illegally commit fewer crimes than native-born American citizens. One study, by the libertarian Cato Institute, found, “The vast majority of research finds that immigrants do not increase local crime rates and that they are less likely to cause crime and less likely to be incarcerated than their native-born peers,” the study’s author wrote.

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Much of the numbers Brooks’ cited have also been cited by President Donald Trump.

“I put the interests of Americans above those of illegal aliens. Countless Americans have been killed or otherwise victimized by illegal alien crimes,” Brooks said. “In addition to the murders, vehicular homicides, and deaths from overdoses on drugs from Mexico, illegal aliens take job opportunities from, and suppress the wages of, American workers. Worse yet, illegal aliens cost American taxpayers an estimated $116 billion per year in welfare and other costs. America’s immigration system is badly broken. I support sweeping policy reforms that put Americans first and stop the carnage wrought against Americans by illegal alien crime.”

H.R. 32 by Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, has introduced the Buy a Brick, Build the Wall Act, which would allow the Secretary of the Treasury to accept public donations to fund the construction of a barrier on the border between the United States and Mexico.

H.R. 85 by Congressman Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, introduced the Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act, which would establish a separate account in the Treasury to hold deposits to be used to secure the southern border of the United States.

Brooks said of H.R. 32 and H.R. 85, “The United States averages a staggering 60,000 illegal border crossings per month. This foreign invasion must stop! I support building the border wall by any means necessary because, historically, walls have been proven to work! I have cosponsored H.R. 32 to help fund a border wall by allowing the United States Treasury to accept donations from the public for border wall construction and cosponsored H.R. 85 to help fund the border wall by diverting $2,000 per illegal alien from foreign aid otherwise paid to an illegal alien’s home country.”

Despite the numbers cited, illegal border crossings are still at a historic low — and much lower than the numbers of illegal border crossings in the 1990s and at their peak in 2000.

H.R. 74 was introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs, R-Arizona. H.R. 74 is known as Grant’s Law. It would statutorily end “Catch and Release” of criminal illegal immigrants.

Brooks said about H.R. 74, “In January of 2015, American Grant Ronnenbeck was brutally murdered at a Mesa, Arizona convenience store by an illegal alien who was already a convicted felon and free on bond while facing deportation. If it weren’t for the Obama Administration’s Catch and Release policy, Grant Ronnenbeck would be alive today. H.R. 74 ends the practice of catch and release for known, dangerous illegal aliens.”

H.R. 140 was sponsored by Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa). H.R.140, the Birthright Citizenship Act, amends Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.

Brooks said About H.R. 140, “According to the Pew Research Center, about 6% of all births in the United States (250,000 births a year) are to illegal aliens. Absurdly, those children born to illegal aliens in the United States are automatically granted United States citizenship. What’s worse, through chain migration, the parents of citizens are able to gain legal status and eventually become naturalized citizens themselves. Illegal aliens broke our laws when they came here and at the very least should not be rewarded for their crimes with citizenship. I have cosponsored H.R. 140, the Birthright Citizenship Act, so the children of illegal aliens born in the United States will not automatically be given citizenship, thereby discouraging illegal alien adults from breaking American laws solely for the purpose of giving birth to a child that, in turn, becomes the anchor that allows illegal aliens to stay in America and, thus, be rewarded for their illegal conduct.”

Brooks also co-sponsored H.R. 147 by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina). H.R. 147, the Visa Overstay Enforcement Act, amends The Immigration and Nationality Act to penalize aliens who overstay their visas.

Brooks said About H.R. 147, “According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were more than 700,000 visa overstays in Fiscal Year 2017. Once a non-citizen’s visa expires they become an illegal alien and should face stiff penalties for illegally remaining in America. I have cosponsored H.R. 147 that allows stiffer fines and imprisonment for repeat offenders.”

H.R. 153 is sponsored by Congressman Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, prohibits the receipt of federal financial assistance by sanctuary cities.

About. H.R. 153, Brooks said, “Sanctuary cities endanger American lives by encouraging and shielding illegal alien conduct. For example, Kate Steinle was killed in sanctuary city San Francisco by an illegal alien who had been previously deported five times. The federal government should use every arrow in its quiver to combat sanctuary policies which thumb their nose at immigration law enforcement. I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 153 to prohibit federal funds from going to sanctuary cities.”

H.R. 250 was sponsored by Congressman Ken Calvert (R-California). The Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 250, amends The Immigration and Nationality Act to make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

Brooks said of H.R. 250, “In addition to America’s expensive welfare system, another major enticement for illegal aliens to violate our laws is the prospect of a job. I have cosponsored H.R. 250, which makes the E-Verify program mandatory for all United States employers. If illegal aliens cannot get a job in America, they are less likely to illegally come here in the first place and much more likely to voluntarily deport themselves back to their home countries.”

“Few issues in Washington are more important to maintaining America’s national security and sovereignty than border security,” Brooks said. “A country without a border is no country at all. I will vote for and support border security bills that put American citizens first and oppose open-borders bills that favor amnesty and encourage more illegal entry into America.”

Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

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Shelby to retain chairmanship of Senate Appropriations Committee

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said Wednesday that he will keep his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate Republican Conference met to ratify committee chairmen for the new Congress and approved Shelby’s selection by members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to lead the committee for his first full two-year term as chairman.

“My committee assignments for the 116th Congress present an opportunity for me to continue serving the state of Alabama and the nation to the best of my ability,” Shelby said. “I am honored that my colleagues have continued to place their trust in me to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee. I look forward to working closely with Vice Chairman Leahy and all Appropriations Committee members to produce bills that fund our national and local priorities.

The Senate is expected to formally affirm Senate committee chairmen and rosters in an organizational resolution. In addition to serving as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Shelby will continue to serve on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Committee on Environment and Public Works; and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

“My colleagues and I on various authorizing committees – Banking, Environment and Public Works, Rules – will work this Congress to craft legislation that impacts the lives of all Americans, including my fellow Alabamians,” Shelby added.

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Shelby served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee during a portion of the 115th Congress, after Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, resigned due to health issues in March 2018. He also served as vice chairman for the 113th Congress.

While Shelby chaired the Appropriations Committee the committee completed work on all 12 Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bills before the July 4th recess, marking the most punctual timeframe in which the committee has completed its regular appropriations bills since 1988.

Additionally, five of those appropriations bills were signed into law before the end of the fiscal year and 75 percent (74.9) of the government was funded on schedule, which signals the most spending bills enacted on time since Fiscal Year 1997, more than two decades ago.

Shelby previously served as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Rules and Administration. Shelby joined the Environment and Public Works Committee during the 115th Congress.

Shelby was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He also served eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives and six years in the Alabama Senate. Shelby lives in Tuscaloosa.

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Jones’ Civil Rights Cold Case bill signed into law

Chip Brownlee

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Sen. Doug Jones’ bipartisan bill to publicly release government records related to unsolved civil rights cases has been signed into law.

The bill, which Jones co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, requires the review, declassification and release of government records related to the crimes. Dubbed the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act, President Donald Trump signed it into law Tuesday after a months-long bipartisan effort to increase public access to the documents.

Democratic Congressman Bobby L. Rush of Illinois handled the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This moment has been years in the making,” Jones said.

The impetus for the bill started with a group of talented high school students who encountered a problem and wanted to find a solution. Students from Hightstown High School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and their teacher, Stuart Wexler, wanted better access to civil rights era cases.

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“I am excited that their classroom idea and the solution we worked on together has now been signed into law by the President of the United States,” Jones said. “I also appreciate the comments the President made in his signing statement in support of our legislation and his encouragement that Congress appropriate funds for its implementation.”

Jones said the new law sends a powerful message to those impacted by the crimes and to young people in this country who want to make a difference.

“I know how deeply painful these Civil Rights-era crimes remain for communities so by shedding light on these investigations I hope we can provide an opportunity for healing and closure,” Jones said.

Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the former KKK members responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, has been an advocate for greater access to government records of civil rights cases.

He testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2007 in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act — a bill that established a special initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate civil rights cold cases.

During that appearance, Jones said its necessary to make documents public in order for the truth to be found, given the difficulty of prosecuting cases so many years after the crimes were committed.

Cruz’s membership in the Senate’s Republican majority helped usher the bill along.

“I am grateful to have worked with Sen. Jones on this important bill,” Cruz said. “The unsolved crimes committed against Americans seeking their rightful place in the American dream during the civil rights movement casts a dark shadow on an important chapter of American history. It is my hope that, with additional sunlight to these cold cases, there will be revelation, justice, and closure where it has long been lacking.”

The legislation was modeled after the President John F. Kennedy, Jr. Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

That bill created an orderly and effective process for reviewing, declassifying and releasing thousands of documents related to Kennedy’s assassination.

The National Archives and Records Administration will establish a collection of cold case records about the unsolved criminal civil rights cases that government offices must publicly disclose in accordance with the new law. And it will establish a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board to facilitate the review and disclosure.

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Army asks for $182 billion during Shelby subcommittee hearing

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 3 min
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