By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, D-Selma, spoke to constituents at a town hall meeting at the historic Woodlawn High School in the City of Birmingham.
Sewell said that as a member of Congress she has been willing to work across party lines to benefit the constituents of her district.
Sewell said “I would be rather at the table begging and scraping for what I can get for my people than banging on the door trying to be let in.”
Sewell said that she disagreed with some conservatives. “Their whole philosophy is that government is a hindrance to the people.” Sewell said that she disagrees.
“I think it is important at every level that you elect people who are willing to listen, to learn, and are willing to compromise,” Sewell said.
“My focus since I got into office has been jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” Rep. Sewell said. “Thanks to the economic policies of Barack Obama, when I came to office the 14 counties of the district has an unemployment rate of 14.3 percent in January 2011. Now those counties have an average unemployment of 6.7 percent. That is a vast improvement. That is a bigger drop than every other congressional district in Alabama but the truth is that we had farther to go.”
“Rural Alabama is being left behind,” Sewell said. Particularly the Black Belt, “The first thing to close were our DMV offices, the first things to close were our state parks, the first things to close were our national guard armories, remember them.”
The Congresswoman said that until recently she was the only Democrat in the Alabama congressional but to their credit they could have just had a Republican Caucus; but instead we have focused on our common interest to work for Alabama. Every month the group meets in Alabama’s senior senator’s office (Richard Shelby).
Sewell urged everyone to subscribe to and read her Guide to Grants newsletters, “I hope that all of you will take advantage of this resource,” and to work with her office on grant applications. “While we can not write a grant for you, you should never apply for a grant without getting your congresswoman to write a letter for you,” Sewell said.
Rep. Sewell said of President Trump’s State of the Union Address, “I thought it was long on talk and short on action.”
“I am very proud of the fight that many of my constituents waged to save the affordable care act,” Sewell said. “It is not perfect.” The deductibles are too high and the premiums are too high, but millions of people have health insurance that never had health insurance before.”
Sewel said that she was concerned that, “Our rural hospitals are closing, and Cooper Green. The state did not expand Medicaid and left billions of dollars on the table. I don’t understand why you do that.” She praised Wilcox County for implementing a ten cent sales tax to try to save John Paul Jones Hospital. Now they are looking into doing a partnership with UAB. We hope that this can be a model for other areas.
Sewell said that she has urged the big hospitals to partner with the small rural hospitals. I told that thatiIf you let all these smaller hospitals close everybody is going to wait until they are really sick then they are all going to come to Birmingham and you will have healthcare chaos.
“CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) is funded for the next six years I think it should be permanently funded,” Sewell said.
“The Dreamers were only made illegal by President Trump signing an order, now he I gong to solve a problem that he created,” Sewell said, “You cannot solve that by doing away with diversity visas and family reunifications.” “We do need to secure our borders. I do not believe that building a wall is what we need. I will vote “No” against a wall concept and spending $5 billion on it.”
“Unfortunately we have not passed a budget for 2018. Right ow we are not in session so the Republicans could go on retreat. Monday we are going to go back in session then on Tuesday we are going to go back on recess so the Democrats can go on retreat,” Sewell said. Instead of going on retreats and then passing another continuing resolution, “We should do a budget and should do a long term budgets and we should do it on a regular order. On February 8 we will pass another continuing resolution. I am going to vote against.”
Sewell said, “I am on the House Intelligence committee and if I told you what I know I would have to kill you.” Referring to the Nunez memo, Sewell said, “We should not be releasing a memo that the FBI has told us has classified sources and methods that would be jeopardizing our national security. This is just not Terri Sewell saying that but Donald Trump’s own FBI Director. If you are going to release the Republican memo why won’t you release the Democratic memo?”
Sewell said that she was pleased that we can elect someone like Doug Jones. “We could not do that without the Seventh District over performing and I want to say thank you. It was the perfect storm not just because of one thing but because of several things. Can we repeat it? Yes. We have to know that we have to vote in every election. I am very proud of this district.”
“You may not agree with every vote that I take; but every vote that I take I take thoughtfully and I think of the seventh district as a whole,” Congresswoman Sewell said.