Monday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) held a town hall event at the historic A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham.
“It was because of the incredible work that you did that I am here representing as the first Democratic Senator to represent Alabama in 25 years,” Sen. Jones said.
“The first thing I did was co-sponsor a bill to re-authorize the CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) program.” Jones said that CHIP’s renewal, “Was definitely related to what we did on December 12.”
“We are losing healthcare in our rural areas left and right,” Sen. Jones said. “I talk about the need for Alabama to expand Medicaid. The two things I have done is to introduce a bill to call a lot of folks hands on this Medicaid issue.” Jones said that his bill would require them to give a study every year on all the good things Medicaid expansion has done in other states as well as all of the dollars being lost in states that did not expand Medicaid. “I have introduced another bill with Senator Warner to roll back to where we would have been with the original Affordable Healthcare Act.”
Sen. Jones said that President Donald J. Trump’s (R) Administration has done a lot to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act. “They are doing everything in their power to, as the President said, to just let it blow up. There is only so much we can do with a slim minority. Elections have consequences.”
Jones said that Texas is suing to overturn the provision of the Affordable Care Act outlawing pre-existing conditions and the state of Alabama has joined the lawsuit. “The Department of Justice under Attorney General Sessions is no longer protecting the ACA.”
Jones said that Trump’s tariffs, “Were ill advised.”
“NAFTA really hurt Alabama, when it first passed.” Jones said. “Textiles moved overseas or shut down.” Trump instituted a tariff on automobiles, but also on automatic parts. “Mercedes changed the trajectory of Alabama’s economy. Alabama is the third highest producer of automobiles behind Michigan and South Carolina. The trade war that he is escalating with China is really hurting. I have been very outspoken about this.”
“Soybean prices have gone down and pork prices have gone down,” Jones said.
Jones said that he has cosponsored legislation with Senator Alexander from Tennessee to make the administration prove that tariffs are needed for national security.
“Those BMWs and Mercedes are not a national security threat,” Jones stated.
“I have co-sponsored about 90 bills, 80 of them are bipartisan,” Jones said. “There is more bipartisanship in Congress than you see on CSPAN. We passed an opioid bill unanimously out of committee that I hope will get to the floor of the Senate.”
“It is very important that EPA takes another look at that North Birmingham site,” Sen. Jones said. “Mayor Woodfin did the right thing,” when he asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider adding the 35th Avenue Superfund site to the National Prioritization List.
Jones said that both he and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Selma) have both sent letters the EPA asking them to reconsider the decision not to place the 35th Avenue site on the SuperFund prioritization list.
“The EPAs decision not to place the site on the NPL was understandable given the level of opposition,” Jones said. We now know however that that decision was undermined by an illegal misinformation campaign.
“Residents deserve better from their federal state and local government,” Jones said.
State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said, “The people of North Birmingham are suffering and nobody has talked to us. Nobody has called a meeting with the citizens in the affected areas. I filed the original complaint in 1989, again in 2005 and again in 2009.”
Jones asked the crowd if they wanted to hear Mary speak on, “Or do you want to have a town hall?”
“I was not a U.S. Senator when all of that was going on,” Sen. Jones said.
Jones did acknowledge when asked that he was the attorney for disgraced state Representative Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham) early on in that case. Jones said that there was a point in that process where Robinson went from defending to cooperating with the investigation to expose wider corruption; but that he could not go into details.
On Saturday, Doug Jones nominated Alvin “Peck” Fox to be Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. The Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee rejected Jones’s nominee and instead re-elected incumbent Nancy Worley to another term.
“We have got to have a party that exercises leadership and we don’t have that now,” Jones told the people at the town hall. The state party needs to be sending field operatives out to the candidates to ask them what they need and needs to be active on social media. “We don’t have that. Our party is sitting on $850,000 and they have not done anything with that. There are only two people down there (at Democratic Party Headquarters in Montgomery).”
“Our party is fielding the best set of candidates it has fielded in 20 years,” Jones said. “This is not going to be a giant blue wave.” It is a gradual process. “We have not played a longball game. It starts with the efforts of the candidates. I have believed for many years, that we as a state can only progress if we have a viable two party system.”
An audience member asked if we were on the verge of a third world war.
“I don’t think we have been on the verge of a Third World War, but what has been happening with Russian interference in our election is putting this Democracy in great peril,” Jones said.
Jones said that the Russians had been working “To sow discord, to make sure that they promoted one part of society against another one. The ability of the Russian government to influence this coming election if frightening.”
“One of the problems is that the President is conflating the terms collusion with interference,” Jones said. “We do have some sanctions going on, but whatever we are doing is not enough.”
“They are also looking at interfering with the power grid,” Jones added.
Jones was critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and added, “When you see the President cozying up to him at Helsinki you should be concerned.”
Jones also addressed the North Korea situation.
“I was disappointed that the President cut out those military exercises in South Korea before seeing Kim Jung-un did what he said he was going to do and we are now seeing information that he is not doing what he sees he is doing,” Jones said.
Senator Jones also discussed the Robert Mueller investigation.
“The president calls this a hoax and that is dangerous,” Jones said. “The Russian interference is not a hoax and Robert Mueller need to finish his job no matter where the chips may fall.”
A constituent asked if he would vote to impeach Rod Rosenstein,
“That would be a constitutional crisis,” Jones said. “That is not going to happen. I have seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Rod Rosenstein has done anything to impeach him over.”
Jones also discussed the Farm Bill and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation.