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US Rep. Bradley Byrne says that Democrats are holding military hostage over immigration

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, delivered a speech Thursday from the floor of the House of Representatives urging Congressional Democrats to stop holding military funding hostage to advance their immigration agenda.

The federal government could go into a partial shutdown unless both Houses pass a continuing resolution to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded. Democrats are opposing any government funding mechanism unless Republicans give immunity from deportation to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who claim that they were brought here as children. Republicans, including Byrne, object to giving so many illegals blanket immunity for violating our nation’s immigration laws.

“Enough is enough,” Byrne said. “I know my colleagues may not like our President. I know my colleagues may not agree with me on immigration. I know my colleagues have different priorities than I do. But for goodness sakes, can we not at least agree that we should adequately fund our troops and the nation’s military? Can we not at least agree that we shouldn’t be playing political games with our military men and women?”

“I rise today to express my great frustration with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for their reckless behavior that is threatening the safety and security of the American people.”

“Let me explain: some members of the House and the Senate are holding funding for the federal government, including funding for our nation’s military, hostage in an effort to advance their immigration agenda,” Byrne charged. “I understand that immigration is a very important issue. I have many priorities in the immigration debate, like increased border security, but I understand that there will come a time and a place to debate immigration issues. That time is not now, and that place is not on a bill dealing with funding our military and other essential functions of government. Mr. Speaker, this is what the American people hate about Congress. Instead of simply doing one of our most basic jobs – funding the government – we are having an unrelated debate about an immigration issue.”

“Let’s be clear about what is going on here: Congressional Democrats are using our military men and women as pawns in a political game,” Byrne said. “They think they can use funding for the military as leverage to get their way on a very complex immigration issue. I think that is not only wrong, but I think it is irresponsible and has very grave consequences. And, I want to strongly reject the notion that this is a Republican problem. The House passed a bill back in September – over four months ago – to fund the military and the entire federal government. That bill has been stuck in the Senate where 60 votes are necessary to pass the bill.”

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The House passed a bill; but the Senate is virtually paralyzed with a 51-49 split between Republicans and Democrats.

“There are only 51 Republican Senators, so that means it will be necessary to have bipartisan support to get any bill across the finish line,” Byrne said. “So, I vehemently reject this is an issue just facing Congressional Republicans. Frankly, that’s a lie. So, why am I so passionate about this issue? Because our nation’s military is facing a serious readiness crisis, and we, as a Congress, are making things worse. We have the smallest Army since before World War II, the smallest Navy since before World War I, and the smallest and oldest Air Force we have ever had. General Daniel Allyn, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, put it best when he said that budgetary problems have ‘left the Army outranged, outgunned, and outdated. As a result, the Army risks falling behind countries like Russia and China.’ There are similarly alarming quotes from the other services as well. Our military needs and demands funding certainty in order to make purchases and perform long-overdue maintenance.”

“Every time we pass a Continuing Resolution and kick the can down the road, that hurts our military,” Byrne said. “It hurts the very men and women that we send into battle each day. It makes their job harder, and frankly, it puts lives at risk. We have seen fatal accidents aboard the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain caused by insufficient time to train sailors and maintain ships. We’ve also seen fatal aviation accidents in the Marine Corps as their equipment ages and their training is limited. The average age of Air Force aircraft is 27 years old, and only 5 of 58 Army Brigade Combat Teams are ‘ready to fight tonight.’ Continuing Resolutions also hurt American taxpayers. In fact, the Secretary of the Navy recently said that the lack of funding certainty has cost the Navy between four and five billion dollars. It makes it costlier to buy military equipment, and that added cost is ultimately passed on to the taxpayer.”

“And the threats we face today are so great,” Byrne warned. “From China to Russia to Iran to North Korea to terrorist groups around the globe, we haven’t seen this serious of a threat environment since World War II. What makes this issue even more frustrating is that both the House and the Senate, in an overwhelming bipartisan manner, have passed a defense authorization bill showing our clear support for funding our military at 700 billion dollars. That bill passed with 356 votes in the House and on a unanimous voice vote in the Senate. But yet we find ourselves at a deadlock and our government on the verge of a shutdown because Congressional Democrats want to advance their immigration agenda.”

As of 6:30 a.m. Friday, President Donald Trump was still meeting with congressional leaders to try to resolve the pending crisis.

Trump tweeted, “Important discussion with @GOPLeader & @repgregwalden at the Capitol about the need to properly fund our government so that our courageous troops have the resources and support they need to accomplish their mission and come home SAFE.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. He has qualified for another term representing the people of south Alabama.

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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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