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Shelby touts the return to more normalized appropriations process

Brandon Moseley



Tuesday U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) applauded the return of a normal appropriations process in a speech Shelby delivered on the Senate floor.

“Just three months ago, Congress passed and the President signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2018,” Sen. Shelby said. “No one had time to read it, much less an opportunity to amend it. The President vowed that never again would he sign such a measure. Collectively, we lamented the absence of process and the excess of partisanship that led to that point once again. The collapse of regular order had become the new normal, despite our usual resolutions to revive it.”

Senator Shelby became the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee in April after Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) retired due to declining health.

“I am pleased to report today that the Senate Appropriations Committee has charted a different course in the months since the fiscal year 2018 omnibus became law,” Chairman Shelby stated. “In April, I began working with Vice Chairman Leahy and our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to put into motion an aggressive schedule to mark up all twelve appropriations bills before the July 4th recess. Thus far, the Committee has passed seven of these bills. This week, the Committee will mark up three additional bills, and in the final week of June we will consider the remaining two. We are right on schedule.”

“What has been truly remarkable, however, is not the speed of the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process but the bipartisanship that has given it new life,” Shelby said. “All seven of the bills passed by the Committee thus far have garnered overwhelmingly bipartisan support. Most of them, in fact, have been approved unanimously. This is no small accomplishment in today’s partisan political environment. On this point, I want to pause and recognize the significant contributions of Vice Chairman Leahy to this effort. Senator Leahy and I have known each other for many decades now. In fact, our combined years on the Appropriations Committee exceed the age of many of our colleagues. On this basis, we came together at the outset of the process and determined that only by uniting would appropriations bills make it to the Senate floor. He and I made a deal, the essence of which Politico succinctly summarized in the headline of a recent article titled, “Poison pills banished from Senate spending bills.” As part of this deal, Vice Chairman Leahy and I agreed to reject not only partisan riders but also new authorizations in the 2019 appropriations bills. We resolved that senators on both sides looking to authorize new law in appropriations bills would be referred to the appropriate authorizing committees.”


“As the appropriations process has unfolded, I have honored this deal. Vice Chairman Leahy has honored this deal,” Chairman Shelby continued. “Our subcommittee chairmen and ranking members have honored this deal. And the results speak for themselves. Just last week, for example, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill passed unanimously out of committee. Madam President, you would have to go back nearly a decade to find the last time the Interior bill garnered such strong bipartisan support. I recognize that we are still early in the game here, and that many contentious issues lay ahead. But I believe that we have established a framework for success in returning to regular order. It is now time to translate this success to the Senate floor. Through their discipline in adhering to this framework, members of the Appropriations Committee have demonstrated that their perennial calls for a return to regular order were not hollow. Today we will begin to discover whether the full Senate is equally sincere in its resolve. The package before the Senate combines three fiscal year 2019 measures recently approved by the Appropriations Committee: the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill; the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill; and the Legislative Branch appropriations bill.”

“The Energy and Water Development bill provides $43.7 billion in discretionary funding, a $566 million increase over the FY18 enacted level,” Shelby continued. “The bill addresses critical national security needs concerning nuclear energy while also improving our water infrastructure and investing in basic science and energy research. Senators Alexander and Feinstein, the chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, have crafted a balanced, bipartisan bill that passed the full committee by a 30-1 margin.”

“The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies bill provides $97.1 billion in discretionary funding, which is $5.1 billion above the level enacted in FY18,” Shelby said. “This bill supports investments that will ensure maximum readiness and warfighting capability for our troops, while also providing funding for needed improvements and innovations at the VA. Senators Boozman and Schatz, the chairman and ranking member of the Milcon-VA Subcommittee, wrote a strong bill that received the unanimous support of the full committee.”

“Finally, the Senate’s Legislative Branch bill provides $3.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is $68 million above the 2018 enacted level,” Sen. Shelby stated. “This bill makes important investments in the safety and security of those working in Congress and those visiting our Capitol. Chairman Daines and Ranking Member Murphy of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, also drafted a strongly bipartisan bill that garnered the unanimous support of the full committee.””

Shelby thanked, “Chairmen Alexander, Boozman, and Daines; Ranking Members Feinstein, Schatz, and Murphy,” for their continued hard work and leadership. “Vice Chairman Leahy and I are committed to an open amendment process, as are each of the subcommittee chairmen and ranking members who will be managing their respective parts of this package.”

“To recap for the benefit of all Members: We are not interested in poison pill riders,” Shelby told his fellow senators. “We are not considering new authorizations of law. But we are interested in discussing substantive amendments that are germane to this package. This is the path that leads back to regular order. It is my hope that we will not be led astray down the path of delay and partisanship that results in yet another omnibus. That is no way to fund the government.”

The Congress left normal order and began passing a series of continuing resolutions and omnibus bills in 2009. At no point did President Barack H. Obama (D) ever sign a normal budget, even when the Democrats controlled the Congress. Instead a C.R. would pass, usually with leaders from the majority and leaders from the minority agreeing to continue funding both their priorities and the priorities of the other party. Along with this came periodic increases in the national debt limit. While the Great Recession and the TARP bailouts contributed greatly to the deficits, over $7.9 trillion was added to the national debt (more money than under any other president).

Despite a roaring economy and record low unemployment, the debt has kept growing under President Trump. The deficit is currently $774 billion. Most federal spending, however, is so-called mandatory spending on entitlements and interest on the debt. Discretionary spending is increasingly a smaller portion of total federal outlays.

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Roby thanks Trump, Pence for helping her defeat Bright

Brandon Moseley



Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) won a resounding victory over former Congressman Bobby Bright. The two had faced off before in 2010 when the Republican Montgomery City Council woman Roby unseated the Democratic incumbent in Bright. Roby won the first contest in a hard fought general election. Eight years later, Bright had switched to the Republican Party and Roby was the incumbent U.S.

Representative. Roby won the rematch in a race that was nowhere near as close as polls had anticipated.
A triumphant Roby thanked a crowded room full of supporters at Montgomery’s Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center.

“I’m honored and humbled that the people of Alabama’s Second District have again placed their trust and confidence in me, and that I will have the opportunity to continue to do this job on their behalf,” Congresswoman Roby said. “On behalf of my family and me, thank you to each person who went out to the polls today to support me.”

“Over the past several months, Team Roby traveled up and down our district to touch as many voters as we possibly could to remind them why I believe I am best positioned to continue to fight for the conservative values we all hold dear,” Roby said. “To all of the people who took the time to talk with me and my team on your doorstep, on your porch, while driving down the road, or enjoying a meal — please know how much the time you spent with us means to our campaign. We didn’t take one vote for granted, and I truly valued visiting with so many great people on the campaign trail.”

Roby thanked God, her campaign team, the Second Congressional District voters and her family who, “I could not have done this without.” Roby also offered her, “Sincere thanks for President Trump and Vice President Pence for their endorsements and support.”


Both President Donald J. Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence (R) had personally endorsed Roby in her bid for re-election.

“I wake up each and every day trying to be the best representative for you,” Roby told her supporters. “and to be in the best position to fight for your conservative values.”

“I am proud of the race we ran,” Roby said. “We ran a campaign based on fact and record and not on one of character assassination. As your representative I will always try to campaign with civility and grace.”

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been a great privilege to be a part of the conservative momentum and to work alongside my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to push some very important priorities over the finish line,” Roby added. “We are in a unique position to accomplish even more, and I’m eager to continue the fight.”

Roby acknowledged that not everyone in this room is in total agreement on policy; but that is a good thing.

Roby was elected in the 2010 Republican wave election that swept Republicans into control of the House of Representatives after four years of Democratic control. Some conservatives in the district have criticized Roby in the past for being too willing to work with Speakers of the House Paul Ryan and John Boehner before that. Some of those conservatives supported a challenger against Roby in 2016, Wetumpka Tea Party founder Becky Gerritson. GOP voters chose Roby; but then became angry with the Congresswoman over some angry comments that Roby had for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and her withdrawing her endorsement of Trump.

Conservatives were incensed and Roby faced four primary challengers in the GOP primary. Roby had less than forty percent of the vote in the primary with Bright besting three more conservative challengers.

Between the primary and the primary runoff, the Republican Party however coalesced behind Roby, and are poised to move on to the general election on November 6 with momentum.

At press time, with 82 percent of the vote in Martha Roby had 41,386 votes, 68.2 percent versus Bobby Bright who had just 19,322 votes, 31.8 percent.

Bobby Bright is a former Mayor of Montgomery.

Roby will face Tabitha Isner (D) in the November 6 general election.

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Sewell, LaHood introduce bipartisan bill to strengthen ambulance services, combat fraud

Brandon Moseley



Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) and Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) have introduced H.R. 6269, a bipartisan bill to prevent upcoming Medicare cuts to reimbursements for ambulance service providers.

In order to pay for better reimbursement rates, the legislation reduces reimbursements for fraudulent ambulance service providers, specifically targeting providers who primarily provide non-emergency transportation.

Rep. Sewell said that the, “Bill ensures that good actors in the ambulance industry don’t have to pay for the crimes of bad actors.”

“It is vital that we support emergency services providers in our rural areas, yet upcoming modifications to Medicare payments threaten to unfairly impact 24-7 emergency ambulance services in rural America,” Rep. LaHood said. “These changes will disrupt providers’ ability to plan and offer comprehensive services around the clock to rural patients, like many of my constituents throughout Central & West Central IL. Our bill would correct this by reforming the program to reflect the reality of the work these providers do in our communities, while continuing to assist all ambulance services to assure they meet the needs of Medicare patients in the 18th District.”

“When emergency strikes, our communities depend on a network of reliable ambulance providers, and today’s bill supports that network by preventing Medicare cuts to ambulance reimbursement,” Rep. Sewell said. “In order to strengthen Medicare, our bill also cracks down on fraud within the ambulance industry, weeding out deceptive providers who take advantage of fragile dialysis patients and drain Medicare of funds with unnecessary ambulance transports. Today’s legislation finds a commonsense solution to the challenge of providing all Americans with access to emergency transportation which Members on both sides of the aisle can support.”


“I want to thank my colleague Congresswoman Sewell for co-authoring this bipartisan legislation with me, as well as the stakeholders throughout the 18th District, and I look forward to working together to get this vital legislation passed,” Rep. LaHood said.

The bill has been referred Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
The legislation is anticipated to have a bipartisan Senate companion introduced in the coming weeks.

On February 9, 2018, the House passed a government funding bill which included a proposal by Rep. Sewell to increase ambulance reimbursements for providers in rural areas.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell represents the Seventh Congressional District.

Sewell is seeking a fifth term. She has no Republican opponent.

She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the Democratic Caucus’s Steering and Policy Committee. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition. She is the only Black woman to have ever represented the State of Alabama in the United States Congress.

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After Trump-Putin Summit, Byrne says Russia is an adversary

Brandon Moseley



President Donald J. Trump (R) held his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  The two world leaders met alone for two hours and then held a news conference.

President Trump has been widely criticized for his comments at the meeting; by analysts who thought he was not tough enough in his comments to the Russian President.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily.”

Byrne stately bluntly, “They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was even more critical of President Trump’s meeting and press conference with Putin in Helsinki.


“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. McCain said in a statement. “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” Sen. McCain continued. “He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world. It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.“
McCain is chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee but has been sidelined recently for most of the last year due to advanced brain cancer.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain stated.

American intelligence sources have claimed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election. Pres. Putin strongly denied interfering in the 2016 Presidential election.

Pres. Putin said, “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including election process.”

Pres. Trump appeared to accept Putin’s denial.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said. “Dan Coats [the director of national intelligence] came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) disagreed with that assessment.

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Speaker Ryan said. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

Trump continues to deny that his campaign colluded with the Russian government on the campaign. “I didn’t know the President. There was nobody to collude with.”

(Original reporting by Fox News and the Washington Post contributed to this report.)

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.

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Shelby touts the return to more normalized appropriations process

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 6 min