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Doug Jones, bipartisan colleagues urge Trump to rethink troop withdrawal from Syria

Eddie Burkhalter

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Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday joined a bipartisan group of senators in asking President Trump to reconsider his order to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which has allowed Turkey to invade and attack the Kurds, allies in the fight on ISIS. 

Jones was joined by senators Joe Manchin, D-WV, Doug Jones, Martha McSally, R-AZ, Angus King, I-ME, and Dan Sullivan, R-AK, all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the writing of a letter to Trump explaining their concerns about Turkey’s attack on the Kurds and the danger of leaving ISIS captives in that area without U.S. troop presence. 

“Dear President Trump,

We write to you as bipartisan members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to implore you to reconsider the current strategy in regards to the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria. We are confident that a structured and deliberate strategy to support our Kurdish partners while reassuring Turkey of our commitment to regional peace will earn broad support across Congress, the National Security community and the American people.

As we have seen in recent days, even small shifts in force posture in Syria have allowed Turkey to begin a ground invasion, shelling, and bombing of Kurdish-held territory.  Five years of fighting alongside the Kurds have demonstrated to us their skill and resolve, but without an American presence, even these fierce warriors stand little chance against the modern and sophisticated Turkish forces. In fact, in the face of our announced withdrawal they have already been forced to align themselves with the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners in order to survive.

Furthermore, we have serious concerns about the state of the numerous prisons and camps that currently detain ISIS fighters and their families. We believe that trusting Turkey with such an essential responsibility with no oversight from the international community carries an unacceptable risk.  The Kurds have demonstrated their capability in this task, and by allowing them to be attacked, we are accepting their diminished ability to provide security and protection to the region.

We are aware that one of your goals is to reduce US involvement in long term wars in the Middle East, and many of us are supportive of those efforts. However, leaving so abruptly without protection for those partners who have been with us in the fight against ISIS is not only perilous for them, but also dangerous for us and our national security. This decision will potentially degrade future relationships with allies and partners around the world, who may question our long-term commitment and resolve.

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We come to you in the sincerest bipartisan fashion because of our grave concerns about our national security and foreign policy. We hope that you will urge Turkey to end their offensive and find a way to a peaceful resolution while supporting our Kurdish partners to ensure regional stability.”

The letter to Trump on Thursday from the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee came on the same day that Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a resolution passed by the House that condemned Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria. 

Four of six Alabama Republican congressmen, along with Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, voted Wednesday to approve the House’s resolution, which passed on a 354-60 vote. 

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Sen. Rand Paul led a group of Republicans in the Senate opposing the House resolution, blocking it from coming up for a vote. 

Jones in a social media post in October warned of the dangers of removing U.S. forces from northern Syria. 

“Kurdish fighters have been invaluable partners in our mission to defeat the Islamic State,” Jones said in the post. “To abandon them in this moment leaves a vacuum for a resurgence of IS in the region.

 

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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Jones says Mitch McConnell failed country by adjourning without COVID-19 aid

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Sen. Doug Jones speaks during a livestreamed press briefing. (VIA SEN. DOUG JONES'S OFFICE)

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday expressed his concern over the Senate majority leader adjourning the Senate without passing another round of COVID-19 relief aid.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, adjourned the Senate until Sept. 8 without passage of relief aid that Jones said is critical for struggling citizens and businesses. 

Jones’s statement:

“Mitch McConnell’s decision to adjourn the Senate without any further efforts to fulfill the Senate’s obligation to the American public during a healthcare and economic crisis demonstrates an unconscionable failure of leadership. Congress acted swiftly in March as the pandemic took hold and every American who put their lives on hold and stayed home for weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 did so out of a patriotic duty and a belief that it would give our government leaders time to implement a plan to get this virus under control.

“Now, it’s been five months and not only do we still have no national strategy, our nation is facing some of the highest rates of coronavirus spread in the world, over 167,000 Americans dead, unprecedented housing and eviction crises on the horizon, and we are slowly coming out of the worst economy since the Great Depression and the highest level of unemployment ever recorded.

“The House of Representatives passed a relief bill on May 15th – three months ago – because it was clear even then that this virus would be with us longer than we had hoped and that more support to American businesses and American citizens would be needed to save lives and save livelihoods. Sadly, however, instead of using this legislation as a framework for a bipartisan relief package, Mitch McConnell buried it in his office and sat on his hands, letting vital programs expire without even participating in efforts to reach agreement. 

“His decision to send the Senate home for the next three weeks is an insult to every sacrifice made, every job lost, every small business that has had to close its doors, every person who had to say their final goodbye to a loved one over Facetime, and every graduation or wedding or birth celebrated over Zoom instead of in person. The American people have done their duty, and today Mitch McConnell has thrown in the towel and given up on doing his.”

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Jones calls for fixes to USPS delays and reduced costs for election mail

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy,” wrote Sen. Doug Jones and 46 other senators to the U.S. postmaster general.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and 46 Senate colleagues in a letter to the U.S. postmaster general on Thursday expressed serious concerns over changes that will increase the cost of citizens to vote.

“Like voting itself, the U.S. Postal Service is vital to our democracy. Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail. Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” the senators wrote in the letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated statements he’s made that the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to process mail-in ballots in the November election without the needed federal funding, which he is withholding. 

“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning. “Those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it.”

DeJoy in recent days has ordered major reshuffling in the Postal Service’s management ranks, ordered a hiring freeze and made other cuts. Secretaries of state nationwide were also notified that instead of the 20-cent bulk rate for election mail, as has been used for decades, now it would cost 55 cents to send such mail via first-class postage. 

The Postal Service in previous elections treated all election mail, no matter how much was spent on postage, as first-class and as such expedited delivery. The recent announcement signals that election mail not sent first class will not receive the same expedited delivery times, worrying many that DeJoy, appointed by the Postal Service’s majority-Republican board in May, is attempting to exert political influence into mail delivery just before the presidential election. 

Trump has repeatedly said, without factual cause, that mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud. Mail-in voting has surged across the country in recent elections and even more so amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states — including California, Colorado and Washington — conduct all elections almost entirely by mail.

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Mail-in voting fraud is incredibly rare, according to The Brennan Center for Justice, which noted that in Oregon, a state that votes primarily by mail, only about a dozen cases of voter fraud were proven out of 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000. 

“As Postmaster General, you have a duty to our democracy to ensure the timely delivery of election mail. Millions of Americans’ right to vote depends on your ability to get the job done. We urge you not to increase costs for election officials, and to direct all Postal Service employees to continue to prioritize delivery of election mail,” the senators’ letter continues.

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Voter Protection Corps recruiting local organizers in Alabama

Micah Danney

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The national nonprofit March On is recruiting regional leaders for its Voter Protection Corps. (GRAPHIC VIA MARCH ON)

The national nonprofit March On is recruiting regional leaders for its Voter Protection Corps, a grassroots network of organizers who will be trained to spot and counteract voter suppression ahead of the 2020 election in 14 key states, of which Alabama is one.

“With closed polling places, broken machines, long lines and the assault on mail-in ballots, voter suppression efforts have reached dangerous new heights in 2020,” said Andi Pringle, March On’s director of strategic and political campaigns. “Coupled with a global pandemic, these efforts threaten our ability to hold a free, fair and safe election in November. March On is looking for young leaders who are fired up to turn out the vote and protect democracy.”

Selected recruits will function as captains who then recruit at least five volunteers to form a squad. There will be about 20 squads in each state, Pringle said.

Captains will be trained by lawyers to know the ins and outs of their local election laws. They will train their squads to help voters exercise their rights to mail-in voting and early voting and will establish relationships with local election protection initiatives, election officials and community leaders.

Voter suppression can take many forms, Pringle said, including misinformation about polling locations, voter ID laws and various legal and administrative obstacles that can prevent average people “who don’t live and breathe this stuff” from casting their vote. Fighting such tactics is generally talked about in terms of attorneys and happens on or after Election Day, but that doesn’t prevent bureaucratic disenfranchisement that occurs in the days and weeks before the election, Pringle said.

“So the vote is already suppressed before they even get to the polls,” she said.

March On is recruiting captains from the Divine 9 Black fraternities and sororities, as well as women, veterans, young professionals, college students and recent graduates. It plans to have more than 7,000 corps members nationally.

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Barry Moore “pleased” Trump is taking action to support America’s reopening

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA BARRY MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore, a former state representative from Enterprise, released a statement expressing confidence in President Donald Trump’s leadership after recent remarks by the president.

“President Trump continues to show strong leadership during this crisis, and the most recent round of economic numbers shows this,” Moore said. “I’m pleased that he’s taking action to continue providing the relief Americans so desperately need with his executive orders while the Democrats in both the House and Senate are blocking this relief for their own political gain.”

“I was especially pleased to hear the President speak out so strongly in favor of school choice and ‘paying the student’, so that parents and students could be free to find the best education opportunities, whether that’s a public, private or a charter school,” Moore said. “President Trump and I both agree that the child should come first, and school choice is a strong part of that. The President wants us to reopen our schools safely, as I do, because sitting at home playing on the computer is not the same as being in school.”

At a press conference on Monday, Trump cited the recent upward trend in the stock market, economic numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics July report and a rise in homebuilder’s confidence. The president asserted that “the stock market rebound signals a V-shaped recovery” and that the U.S. has “the strongest performing economy in the world.”

Trump also noted that the U.S. economy was also performing significantly better than in Europe.

“We had to turn the economy off and now we’re turning it back on,” the president said.

The president went on to criticize Democrats including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Californi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, for wanting “radical left agenda items” and “ridiculous things that have nothing at all to do with the China virus” in the most recent relief bill, which is currently stalled in Congress.

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Trump used Democratic demands for $3.5 billion dollars for universal mail-in voting, which the president described as setting up “the greatest rigged election in history,” as just one example of Democratic obstruction.

Trump accused Democrats of holding up money for schools, state and local governments, and extending unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions. Trump said that this is what prompted him to sign a series of executive orders on Saturday addressing these issues.

“My hope is that, with the President’s continued leadership, we can continue to reopen our country and our economy, and I look forward to working on our complete recovery when I’m elected to Congress to represent District 2,” Moore concluded.

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Moore is the Republican nominee for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore is an Auburn University graduate, a small businessman, veteran, husband and father of four. Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives for 2010 to 2018. He ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 2018. Moore credits that failed run for setting up the groundwork for his winning the Republican nomination in a crowded GOP field in 2020.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress at the end of this term.

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