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Byrne applauds passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) applauded the passage of the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire U.S. military. The bill passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 359 to 54.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Byrne played a leading role in the bill. Rep. Byrne was also a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee established to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA.

“Some things are more important than partisan politics, like supporting the men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to help keep our nation safe,” Congressman Byrne said. “I was pleased to see the House pass the National Defense Authorization Act today on a strong bipartisan vote. With this bill, we are sending a message to our service members that we have their backs. I look forward to President Trump signing this bill to rebuild and reform our military into law.”

Byrne said that specific to Southwest Alabama, the bill authorizes the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), which are built by Austal USA in Mobile. The Senate version of the NDAA only authorized funding for one LCS, but Congressman Byrne worked with his colleagues to ensure three ships were included in the final bill.

“We will never get to the 355-ship Navy fleet that we need and President Trump wants without supporting the LCS program this year,” Byrne said. “I appreciate Chairman Mac Thornberry and Congressman Rob Wittman for working with me to grow our Navy and support the LCS program, including the close to 4,000 men and women who work at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”

“House Resolution 1027 provides for consideration of the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” Byrne said on the floor of the House. “This NDAA process has once again been a textbook example of how Congress should work. After extensive hearings in the House and the Senate, lengthy committee markups, hundreds of amendments, separate passage in both chambers, and a conference committee, we have reached the point of final passage. This has been a process that has followed regular order and allowed so many Members to have a role in the process. Here in the House, that is a testament to Chairman Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member Adam Smith, and their very capable staffs. This is the earliest the House has passed the final version of the NDAA in 41 years, which is a remarkable feat. A considerable amount of time and effort has been put into this product, and I know I join other members of the House in expressing our deep gratitude for their efforts.”

“This year’s NDAA offers the next steps in our effort to rebuild our military and reform the Pentagon,” Byrne continued. “I know many of us have been deeply troubled by the readiness crisis that struck the military over the last several years. This has resulted in training accidents and failures that took the lives of our servicemembers. To reverse that trend, this year’s NDAA allows for increased funding for training, as well as $2.8 billion for the procurement of spare airplane parts. In response to recent naval incidents in the Pacific, the NDAA directs the Navy to review their operational chain of command and current training plans for Surface Warfare Officers. The strategy of peace through strength requires us to continue to produce and procure the best tools and resources possible.”

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“In an effort to build towards President Trump’s goal of a 355 ship Navy fleet, the NDAA authorizes the construction of new ships, including a Ford-class aircraft carrier, additional Virginia-class attack submarines, and three Littoral Combat Ships,” Byrne added. “Given the range of challenges in the nuclear domain, the NDAA supports the Nuclear Posture Review’s recommendation to pursue a lower-yield ballistic missile warhead, while also making important investments in our missile defense programs. Very important, the NDAA authorizes a 2.6% pay raise for our servicemembers, which is the highest increase in nine years. This is critical to recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest.”

“Additionally, the NDAA focuses on policies specific to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, as well as provisions related on non-state actors and terrorist organizations,” Byrne added. “I am also pleased that the conference report contains a compromised final version of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act. Congress has come together in a strong, bipartisan manner to recognize the growing threat of countries like China in weaponizing financial investment, threatening our advanced technologies and undermining our defense industrial base.”

“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, is an interagency body led by the Treasury Department tasked with reviewing foreign investment for national security concerns.” Byrne added. “However, United States law governing CFIUS has not been modernized for over a decade and is not designed to address today’s modern, evolving threats. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act gives CFIUS much needed additional authority to address real national security threats without unduly burdening foreign investment in the American economy and slowing American economic growth in the process.”

“Just this past weekend, I was able to spend time with some of our fine servicemen and women in the Pacific, where they are taking part in RIMPAC, the world’s largest naval exercise.” Byrne said. “It is amazing to see the work these men and women, often very young, are doing on a daily basis. Whether it is landing planes on an aircraft carrier or steering a massive warship, these individuals are asked to carry out incredibly complicated and dangerous tasks, and they do it exceedingly well. It is the least we can do to show these courageous and patriotic Americans we have their back by passing this NDAA on a strong, bipartisan basis. We deal with a lot of complicated, and frankly divisive issues in this body, but today, on this issue, I hope we can show that our national security and the people who devote so much to keep us safe can rise above the divisiveness of today’s politics.”

The Whitehouse released a statement commending the House for passing the NDAA.

“President Donald J. Trump promised the American people that he would restore our national security. Today, Congress is taking action on the President’s request that it carry out his commitment to our military. The Administration commends the House of Representatives for passing the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, and encourages its swift passage in the Senate.”

“The Conference Report supports the President’s request for a pay raise for our troops and rebuilds the military to deter adversaries and maintain the Administration’s posture of peace through strength. It also takes positive steps that are consistent with the Administration’s commitment to maintaining a strong and resilient manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

“By supporting key components of the Administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, both of which focus on a return to principled realism in an era of great power competition, the FY 2019 NDAA enhances the President’s ability to defend the Nation. It also supports key components of the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, South Asia Strategy, vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and ongoing operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”

“The Conference Report’s topline authorization levels for base national defense funding and Overseas Contingency Operations funding are consistent with the levels requested in the FY 2019 President’s Budget and enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”

“The FY 2019 NDAA keeps faith with Israel, fully authorizing the Administration request for co-development and co-production of missile defense systems. It supports the European Deterrence Initiative, strengthening the posture of the United States in Europe and bolstering our European allies against the threat of Russian aggression. Finally, the Administration appreciates the Conference Report’s inclusion of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), which achieves the twin aims of protecting our national security and preserving our long-standing open investment policy. It also welcomes language recognizing the ongoing and wrongful detainment of Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Byrne is running for re-election but faces Robert Kennedy Jr. in the November 6 general election.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

Fauci calls on governors in states with surging cases to issue mask orders

As COVID-19 deaths in Alabama passed 1,000 on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci called on governors to issue face mask orders to slow the spread of the virus.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a video press conference with Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.

As COVID-19 deaths in Alabama passed 1,000 on Tuesday, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force called on governors to issue face mask orders to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, when asked by APR whether he’d like to see governors in states with surging cases institute statewide orders to wear masks, said yes.

“I do believe a statewide mask order is important because there is a variability in people taking seriously or even understanding the benefit of masks,” Fauci said during a press conference, hosted by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama on Tuesday. “Masks make a difference. It is one of the primary fundamental tools we have.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on June 30 extended her “safer-at-home” order until July 31, but declined to institute any further mandates despite surging new cases and hospitalizations.

Fauci also said that social distancing and the closure of bars are important to communities looking to slow the spread.

“Fundamental things like masking, distancing, washing hands, closing bars — if you do that, I think it will be a giant step toward interfering with the spread in your community,” Fauci said.

At least 1,007 people have died statewide from COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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New daily COVID-19 cases in Alabama dipped below 900 for the first time in six days, but just barely, with 888 new cases on Tuesday. Thirty-one percent of the state’s total confirmed cases have come within the last two weeks.

Alabama’s hospitals on Monday were caring for more COVID-19 patients than at any time since the pandemic began.

UAB Hospital had 86 coronavirus patients on Monday, the highest the hospital had seen. Huntsville Hospital had 72 COVID-19 patients on Monday, and the surge in cases prompted the hospital to cancel elective surgeries and convert three surgical floors to COVID-19 care, according to AL.com.

At East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika there were 41 COVID-19 patients on Monday, which was the highest the hospital has seen in weeks and not far from the hospital’s peak of 54 patients on April 11.

The average age of those becoming infected with coronavirus has dropped by 15 years since the beginning of the pandemic, Fauci said, which has lowered the overall death rate due to the virus, as younger people usually fair better, but not if that young person has an underlying medical condition.

“We are now getting multiple examples of young people who are getting sick, getting hospitalized and some of them even requiring intensive care,” Fauci said, adding that even those young people who have coronavirus but are asymptomatic can spread the virus to others, who may be more compromised.

Fauci warned against pointing to the overall declining death rate and becoming lax about coronavirus, and said that “it’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.”

“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency,” Fauci said.

Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told APR on Monday that it may take several weeks to learn whether the increasing number of those hospitalized in Alabama will worsen and require ICUs and ventilators, and possibly lead to a rise in deaths.

“We just don’t know yet. We don’t know which way we’re going to go,” Williamson said Monday. “We just know we got a whole lot more cases than we had a month ago, and we’ve got a lot more hospitalizations than we had a month ago.”

Asked about his thoughts on the state of the virus in Alabama, Fauci said that what’s alarming is the slope of the curve of new daily cases.

“When you see a slope that goes up like that you’ve got to be careful that you don’t get into what’s called an exponential phase, where every day it can even double, or more,” Fauci said. “You’re not there yet, so you have an opportunity, a window to get your arms around this, and to prevent it from getting worse.”

Speaking on what’s become the politicization of the wearing of face masks, Fauci said that politicization of any public health matter has negative consequences. President Donald Trump does not wear face masks in public, prompting concern from many that by doing so he’s suggesting to the public that masks aren’t needed. The issue is divided rather sharply along partisan lines.

In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, two-thirds of voters, 67 percent, said Trump should wear a face mask when he is out in public, but while 90 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents say the president should wear a mask in public, just 38 percent of Republicans said the same.

“I mean, obviously today, it’s no secret to anybody who lives in the United States that we have a great deal of polarization in our country, unfortunately,” Fauci said. “We hope that changes, but there’s no place for that when you’re making public health recommendations, analysis of data, or any policies that are made. That will always be a detriment to do that.”

 

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Elections

GOP candidate Tommy Tuberville leads Trump “boat parade” in Orange Beach

Brandon Moseley

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Tommy Tuberville participates in a Trump "boat parade." (Contributed)

Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville rode in the lead boat in a “boat parade” on Sunday in Orange Beach, celebrating Independence Day and the launch of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

Hundreds of boats participated in the Trump parade in the Perdido Pass area. WKRG TV estimates that more than 8,000 people joined. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores boats joined boats from Pensacola and Dauphin Island.

Trump supporter and Alabama Republican Executive Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. was also present.

“It was Awesome having Coach Tommy Tuberville on The TRUMP Boat at Orange Beach Alabama,” Hooper said. “Tommy was a Great Coach and he will be a Great US Senator. It’s Great To Be A TRUMP/ TUBERVILLE AMERICAN. Everybody was so Happy cheering for The President and Tommy on! Fun Day!”

Hooper is a former state representative from Montgomery.

Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. The Arkansas native lives in Auburn.

President Donald Trump spoke at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday.

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“Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said. “I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”

Trump accused opponents of trying to dismantle America.

“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump alleged. “In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”

“President Trump has given several good Speeches,” Hooper said. “This Speech was by far his best! It was straight up AWESOME! His speech was all about the Greatness of America! President Trump loves our Country and its great History. President Reagan has given some of the best speeches ever. This speech topped Reagan’s best. As for Perry O. Hooper Jr., I would get in a foxhole and fight for him to the end. God Bless President Donald J. Trump and GOD BLESS THE USA!”

Trump faces a stiff challenge from former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading in the polling.

Tuberville has been endorsed by Trump in the July 14 Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate. Tuberville faces former Sen. Jeff Sessions.

 

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Courts

Judge refuses to dismiss Roy Moore lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen

A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS filed by former Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Brandon Moseley

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Roy Moore, left, and Sacha Baron Cohen, right, on Cohen's now-canceled show "Who Is America?" (Showtime/YouTube)

Federal Judge Andrew Carter last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS. The lawsuit was filed by former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and his wife Kayla Moore, who claim that Cohen slandered Moore as a pedophile on his now-canceled show “Who is America?”

After the judge denied Cohen’s request to dismiss the $95 million lawsuit, the case will now proceed to discovery, where the Moores announced that they intend to take the depositions of and obtain evidence from Cohen and other relevant individuals at Showtime, CBS and their related entities.

The Moores had put the defendants on notice that if they aired the offensive and defamatory interview by Cohen, who posed in disguise as an Israeli Mossad agent, that they would be sued for large damages. When the defendants did not heed the warning and aired the interview anyway, the Moores brought their lawsuit.

The case is being litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after it was transferred over a year ago from a federal court in Washington D.C.

“We are gratified that the Court is allowing the Moores’ case to go forward and we look forward to putting Cohen and the other defendants under oath,” said Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and a former federal prosecutor. “The alleged defamation of Chief Justice Moore was malicious and despicable and it is time that a jury of the parties’ peers allow justice to be done. Great harm has been caused to my clients, which must be addressed and remedied.”

In 2017, Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. The Washington Post released an investigation that alleged Moore sexually abused young women in the 1970s. Moore denied the accusations.

 

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Elections

Brooks encourages Americans to celebrate independence, foundational principles

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Mo Brooks

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, urged Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July, our independence, and the foundational principles that have made America the greatest nation in world.

“On July 4th, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers launched history’s greatest experiment,” Brooks said. “The Founders sought to answer a question no one had asked before. Can a nation prosper under a system of self-government based on freedom and liberty? The answer, YES!”

“Soviet Union & German style communism & socialism have been relegated to the dustbin of history, leaving tens of millions dead in their wake,” Brooks continued. “In contrast, America’s experiment with liberty and freedom has excelled, making us the greatest nation in history. Today, America faces its greatest internal threat in history, excepting the Civil War. Evil revisionism and dangerous doctrines are being advanced by those who wish to undermine and suppress individual freedom and liberty and replace them with government dictates and Communist China-style slavery, where the masses are forced to work for the financial benefit of elitist party members. I urge all American patriots to remember the sacrifices of our ancestors that have combined to give us the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Further, I urge patriotic Americans to fully use and exercise all our rights and powers to protect the foundational principles that have combined to make Americans who we are. Too many Americans are not taught or have forgotten that freedom and liberty are our rallying cry. It’s important to remember freedom, liberty, and our other foundational principles this Independence Day.”

“Over a million Americans have fought and died to bless us with liberty and freedom,” Brooks concluded. “I ask that we, on July 4th, remember their sacrifice and dedicate our efforts to their memory and the freedom and liberty we are so fortunate to enjoy.”

President Donald Trump spoke on Mount Rushmore Friday.

“Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said. “I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”

“Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity,” the president continued. “No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America and no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation. It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence. They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said, “All men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights, given us by our Creator in Heaven, and that which God has given us, we will allow no one ever to take away ever.”

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“1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason,” Trump added. “And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.”

“One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees,” Trump continued. “This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.”

“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump said. “In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”

Trump is trying to fire up his base headed into the 2020 presidential elections. Brooks represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

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