By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, December 11, Congressmen Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks) both voted “No” on passage of H.R. 83, a $1.013 trillion, 1,600-page Continuing Resolution/Omnibus spending bill (nicknamed “CROmnibus”) that funds the government to the next fiscal year which begin on October 1.
Representative Brooks said that the Continuing Resolution funds what he calls the, “President’s lawless executive amnesty and further damages America’s perilous long-term financial stability. “
The House passed the CROmnibus on a narrow 219-206 vote.
Rep. Brooks said in a written statement, “My vote on the CROmnibus was a difficult one. Anytime the government spends more than $1 trillion, there are a lot of good things that will be funded. Notwithstanding those good things, I voted “No” on the CROmnibus because of the cumulative effect of these and other reasons.”
Congressman Mike Rogers said in a statement on Facebook, “President Obama has vastly overstepped his Executive Authority by unilaterally acting on immigration. While I support many of the bill’s important government funding features, it does not take a strong enough stand now to stop his illegal actions.”
Rep. Brooks said that “The CROmnibus spends more than $1 trillion, almost half of which America does not have, must borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back. America recently blew through the $18 trillion debt mark. The CROmnibus spending exceeds previous spending caps, is financially irresponsible, and is not up to the financial challenges America faces. As such, the CROmnibus worsens the risk of a debilitating American insolvency and bankruptcy. I cannot endorse a spending bill that sends us further down a perilous path of financial ruin.”
Brooks also city the CROmnibus’s 1,600 pages length. Brooks said that it was revealed just two days prior to the vote, “And has not been read and fully understood by a single Senator or Congressman. The CROmnibus has thousands of line-items and hundreds of policy riders that require more deliberation and consideration than afforded by the process used by the Senate and House leaderships. Further, the CROmnibus procedure denies American citizens the opportunity to examine the legislation and participate in our democratic process by sharing their insight with their elected representatives in Washington. Congress should never be put in the position of having to pass legislation to find out what is in it. I decline to support this flawed process with my vote.”
Brooks also complained that, “The Senate and House Leadership barred Congressmen and Senators from offering amendments to the CROmnibus, thus making it a “take it or leave it” bill that undermines the democratic process and stifles the voices of Senators and Congressmen who have good ideas on how to improve the CROmnibus via the amendment process.”
Brooks also stated that, “A vote for the CROmnibus is a vote supporting President Obama’s unconstitutional Executive amnesty. President Obama has unilaterally and unconstitutionally ordered the granting of quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to illegal aliens. In a Senate floor speech this week, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) revealed that the second phase of President Obama’s illegal alien amnesty plan involves giving illegal aliens a path to citizenship with accompanying voting rights, thereby diluting the voting power of American citizens while costing struggling American families jobs and lost wages. Not only does the CROmnibus fail to block President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty for illegal aliens, it affirmatively appropriates at least $948 million in support of illegal aliens. House leadership promises to ‘fight the President tooth and nail’ on his unconstitutional executive amnesty, stating that ‘this is the wrong way to govern.’ However, the CROmnibus is a tacit surrender to the President’s unilateral action and a missed opportunity to stop it.”
The Conservative Congressman from Huntsville said, “The separation of powers set forth in the Constitution between the Executive and Legislative branches is made more porous by the CROmnibus. America’s Founders knew firsthand the dangers of centralized government power. In Federalist #51, James Madison wrote that the best security against a gradual accumulation of powers by the executive branch is to give each branch of government the ‘necessary constitutional means . . . to resist encroachments of the others.’ The Legislature, with its power of the purse, has not only the ability, but the duty under our Constitution to resist encroachment of the Executive. By not acting today to defund executive overreach, the House committed a disservice not only to the American people, but to the Constitution itself.”
Brooks said that there are necessary NASA and defense programs that I support and which are included in this bill. However Brooks said, “We must remember what Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated numerous times: the greatest threat to our national security is our National debt. Congress has the power of the purse. We not only have the ability to rein in America’s disastrous spending habits, we have the duty to. Yet, once again, instead of acting in the best interests of the American people, the House failed to be financially responsible concerning America’s out-of-control national debt.”
The omnibus spending bill was passed in the House on Thursday and in the Senate on Saturday unchanged.
The National Debt is $18,014.5 billion according to USDebtclock.org. Total federal spending is over $3.5 trillion per year. Most of this spending is on entitlements including: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. rather than in discretionary spending like roads, defense, government agencies like NASA, EPA, Homeland Security, etc. Discretionary Spending has actually decreased over the last four years however the deficit is still $480 billion a year because of automatic increases in “non-discretionary spending”.
Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.
Congressman Mike Rogers represents Alabama’s Third Congressional District.
Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels
Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192.
Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.
The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.”
Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.”
“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.
As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.
ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.
ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two.
Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.
Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”
Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.”
“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.
Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.
“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law. Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”
Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game.
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.
Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83
The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”
Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.
Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.
The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.
While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.
Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”
His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.
This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.