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Rep. Martha Roby on Honest Budget Act and Keystone XL Pipeline

Martha Roby

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Honest Budget Act:

Americans are disappointed with the dysfunction in Washington—the people see politicians talking about budget savings and future spending cuts that never seem to materialize. Their frustration is justified, and many Members of Congress, including myself, share it.

My freshman class came to Washington to cut wasteful spending and bring more transparency and accountability to the legislative process. Over the past year, we have consistently pushed for deeper spending cuts, less regulation, and a harder line against efforts to raise taxes and expand government power. But during a year of budget battles, we have discovered that the nuances of the budget process can be exploited to hide federal spending.

Congress, as an institution, is a sick patient.

My colleagues and I have learned that the House and Senate are plagued by budget loopholes and gimmicks that are deeply engrained in the rules of the two chambers. Exploiting those gimmicks is widely accepted and has become commonplace in both parties.

Honesty, accountability, and transparency are the cure—and implementing legislation to rid the budget process of gimmicks is one way to deliver that medicine.

In a rare bi-cameral event this week, more than 25 Senate and House colleagues stood in support as Sen. Jeff Sessions and I announced the introduction of my bill, the Honest Budget Act of 2012.

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My legislation would put an end to the procedural trickery that Washington too often uses to hide federal spending and run up the debt. It is companion legislation to a bill introduced last year by Senator Sessions in the Senate. The legislation takes his commonsense approach to the problem and extends it to the House of Representatives, where revenue and spending bills are first considered.

The Honest Budget Act would give rank-and-file House members greater authority to challenge the nine most commonly used budget gimmicks found in the budget and appropriations process. Experts estimate that these gimmicks have accounted for more than $420 billion in new spending since 2005—including $73 billion last year.

The legislation is a direct response to the problems that my freshmen colleagues and I have witnessed over the last year. It is a first step toward holding the Congress and the President accountable through an honest and transparent budget process.

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As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” The American people deserve a government that shoots straight, and they are looking to Congress for a budget that is reliable, genuine, and accountable. The Honest Budget Act would help Congress meet those expectations.

Keystone XL Pipeline: On the House floor this week, I delivered a speech expressing my disappointment over the President’s recent decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline by rejecting an application to build and operate the oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border. Click to watch The Keystone Pipeline represents an opportunity to increase supply of much-needed natural resources in our country. If built, it would have the capacity to deliver up to 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day over 1,700 miles of pipeline. In terms of job growth, tens of thousands American jobs would be created over the life of the project.America’s energy policy is vitally important to our national security and our economic security. Oil, for example, accounts for more than a third of total U.S. energy consumed, with 94 percent of all transportation in the U.S. powered by petroleum products. We need to implement ways to increase domestic energy production here at home. Therefore, I support an “all of the above” approach to energy, which includes opening up new areas for American energy exploration, transitioning to renewable and alternative energy, and using more clean and reliable nuclear power. The President made a major decision to deny the Keystone Pipeline, and every American should be aware of the consequences.I consider his choice a grave mistake, and I am pleased that Congress is now considering ways to allow construction of the Keystone Pipeline through legislation. The Impact of Medicaid Expansion: This week, I participated in an Education and the Workforce Committee hearing to discuss various federal policies that affect the states. During the hearing, I addressed the negative impact Medicaid expansion would have on state government. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, as a result of President Obama’s health care reform law, Medicaid will expand to cover an additional 25.6 million enrollees in the next decade, increasing the cost on states by more than $118 billion through 2023. Medicaid is jointly funded by state and federal government, therefore, the expansion would place a burden not just on the federal government, but on the states as well. As Medicaid is already significantly underfunded, many states are unsure they can devote even more resources to cover this expansion. The Medicaid provision is just one of many included in Obama’s health care law, which would create more government while increasing taxes—directly and indirectly—on Americans. I was sent to Congress to root-out unnecessary federal spending and shrink the size of government. One of the first actions I took after being elected to Congress was vote to repeal the President’s health care law. It is important to find ways to encourage affordable health care for citizens without placing additional burdens on state budgets. I look forward to implementing market-based reforms that actually lower cost, increase access, and maintain high quality of care.

Contact Me: Keeping close contact with you is my top priority as I am traveling between Alabama and Washington, D.C. As the 112thCongress continues, I hope you will stay updated on my activities by joining me at:

Web site http://roby.house.gov/

Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Representative.Martha.Roby

Twitter page @ RepMarthaRoby

Flicker page at Martha Roby

Sign up to receive Congressman Martha Roby’s Weekly Column at http://roby.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.

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Education

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program gets more national attention

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The state’s First Class Pre-K program gives children advantages in math and reading that last into middle school, far longer than the gains studied in other high-quality pre-K programs, according to an article published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy.

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

While programs like Head Start and Tennessee’s pre-K program have been shown to lead to significant educational improvements when children enter kindergarten, those benefits appear to experience a “fadeout” within a year. 

The new research followed students through the 7th grade. Further research should examine the persistence of benefits through high school, according to the article, which was published by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, ThinkData and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The research “is reassuring and supports accountability for continued investments and expansion,” the article concluded.

The journal that featured the article is a publication of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

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Congress

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announces new chief of staff

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Friday announced that Seth Morrow will serve as his chief of staff.

“As we enter the last half of 2020, my office remains busy assisting constituents and advancing our legislative priorities. I know Seth shares my focus on finishing out my term in Congress strong, and he is well prepared to move into the Chief of Staff role,” Byrne said in a statement. “My staff and I will continue working hard every day to fight for the people of Southwest Alabama and advance our conservative agenda.”

Morrow is a native of Guntersville and has worked for Byrne since June 2014, serving as deputy chief of staff and communications director. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring our office maintains our first class service to the people of Southwest Alabama. Congressman Byrne has always had the hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and I know we will keep that tradition going,” Morrow said in a statement.

Morrow replaces Chad Carlough, who has held the position of Byrne’s chief of staff since March 2017. 

“Chad has very ably led our Congressional team over the last few years, and I join the people of Southwest Alabama in thanking him for his dedicated service to our state and our country,” Byrne said. 

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Alabama GOP chair: “We expect our elected officials to follow the law” after Dismukes arrest

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan said on Twitter.

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been arrested on the charge of felony theft.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Thursday that Alabamians expect their leaders to follow the law. Her comments came in response to news that an arrest warrant had been issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, on the charge of felony theft.

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Lathan said on Twitter. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said Friday in a statement that Dismukes will get his day in court.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing,” McCutcheon said. “Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name.”

Dismukes has been charged by his former employer, a custom flooring company, of felony theft charges. Dismukes left that employer and started his own custom flooring company.

Dismukes, who is serving in his first term and is one of the youngest members of the Alabama Legislature, has been heavily criticized for his participation in a birthday party for Confederate Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma. Forrest was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

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The party in Selma occurred the same week that Congressman John Lewis’s funeral events were happening in Selma. Dismukes resigned his position at Valley Baptist Church when the Southern Baptists threatened to disassociate the Prattville Church if they retained Dismukes. He has defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature, but if convicted of a felony, he would be automatically removed from office.

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives over his being the chaplain of the Prattville Sons of Confederate Veterans and his Facebook post lauding Forrest. The investigation into the theft predates the controversies surrounding Dismukes’s glorification of the Confederacy and Forrest.

Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who also represents Prattville, has called on Dismukes to resign.

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“Since first being elected in 1996, I’ve had a policy of not publicly criticizing other elected officials, but at this time I am making an exception since Rep. Dismukes is MY state representative. He does not represent my views or the views of the vast majority of people of District 88,” Chambliss said. “The post is bad enough, the timing is even worse, but the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings. He has had 24 hours to understand why people are so upset, but his interview on WSFA a few moments ago confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgment — he should resign immediately.”

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has repeatedly called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Alabama Democratic Party recently said in a statement, “Will Dismukes is morally unfit for office. Republicans and Democrats statewide seem to agree. Unfortunately, despite the mounting calls for his immediate resignation, Will intends to stay in office and seek re-election without penalty from the Republican Party.”

“While Alabama Republicans hope this will be a distant memory when Dismukes runs for re-election in 2022, we are not going to let him off the hook,” the ADP wrote. “The Alabama Democratic Party is going to leverage every tool we have to send Will packing when he comes up for re-election in two years.”

“In our darkest hours in life there is still light in Christ!” Dismukes wrote on social media Wednesday. “As the storm continues to blow with heavy force, there is yet a peace that this too shall pass. I guess sometimes we find out if we have built our house on sand or the solid rock of Christ. Psalm 23.”

When Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, was indicted on 21 charges of felony ethics violations, he did not resign and actually remained speaker until a jury of his peers in Lee County convicted him on 12 counts.

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