By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, January 23, 2018, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala., spoke with Sirius XM host Joe Madison for an interview to discuss his role in ending the government shutdown and voting to protect children’s health insurance for 150,000 low-income Alabama families.
While most Senate Democrats voted to shutdown the government to demand that the Dreamers bill be taken up; Jones voted with the Republicans to fund the government short term because he favored protecting the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP / ALL Kids).
“I had to do a calculation in what I thought would be in the best interest of the people of Alabama,” Jones said. “We have 150,000 kids on the CHIP that were about to lose that. We were the first state to start sending out pink slips, where those kids were going to lose their health insurance. And that was something I campaigned on. It was probably the centerpiece of my campaign.”
Jones said that a lengthy government shutdown would have hit Alabama more than most states.
“The second thing is that Alabama in the last shutdown suffered fourth-worst economically from a government shutdown,” Jones said. “We have so many military and civilian personnel and their families that would have been affected…it would have been very damaging to the state of Alabama. And so I felt that it was very important to continue dialogues in other areas.”
Jones suggested that both sides find a middle ground.
“I think the solution is going to be having [the bipartisan ‘Common Sense’ coalition] talk among themselves, go back to their caucuses [to see] what can work,” Jones said. “If groups like that can hold together, we have an incredibly powerful middle…But the commitment to bring to the floor the DACA issue, and the border security issues, as separate and apart and have a full debate with some amendments, and a bill that is neutral to give both sides an opportunity to talk – that’s a huge breakthrough, Joe. It is not how the Senate has been operating, particularly this last year. It is not how it has been operating at all and it gives Senators an opportunity to reach across the aisle and then to work within their caucuses to actually get something done.”
The deal that passed both Houses of Congress Monday and which was signed by President Donald J. Trump (R) funded the CHIP program for the next six years so there will not be 150,000 Alabama children being taken hostage in a partisan war over budget again; however the C.R. for the rest of the budget was just for three weeks so the Senate will have to address the DACA issue, a new C.R., and raising the debt ceiling in the coming weeks. While the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed all 12 spending bills needed to pass an actual budget; the bitterly divided Senate has not acted on the budget forcing the government to continue operating on continuing resolutions to keep the government funded going forward.
Jones joined fellow Democratic moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia at a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump on Monday.
Jones was sworn in on Jan. 3 after his upset victory over former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in December 2017.