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Doug Jones addresses Alabama AFL-CIO

Brandon Moseley

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via Alabama AFL-CIO

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones told members of the Alabama AFL-CIO, “You have a friend in the United States Senate.”

The Alabama AFL-CIO was holding their biennial convention in Montgomery at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

“We need to support the people who support us,” Alabama AFL-CIO President Bren Riley said. “He does not vote with us all the ti8me; but do you think that Roy Moore would have voted with us at all?”

Jones said that he was elected in a special election, “And it was special to me.”

“I want to thank you first and foremost for the work that you are doing for all the working men and women,” Jones said.

Jones said that serving in the Senate, “Is the honor of a lifetime.”

“I worked in the steel mill one summer in college,” Jones said. “Man that was a tough job.”

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Jones said that his dad stayed there until 1980.

“Grandad died on the floor of the tin mill of a heart attack at age 60,” Jones said. My other grandfather was a union organizer and turned out the lights out on the Dulcina mine when it closed.

“You have a friend in the United States Senate for the first time since 1996 when my old boss Howell Heflin retired,” Jones told the union members.

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Jones said that the first American union was started by shoemakers in Boston three and a half centuries ago to set a quality standard of product and to set a standard for quality of life.

Jones talked about protecting pensions.

“After a lifetime of hard work you deserve to retire with dignity,” Sen. Jones said. Pension plans are close to failing. “It is unacceptable to me.”

Jones said that the Butch Lewis Act was the, “First bill I cosponsored when I started my work in the United States Senate.”

Jones said that the bill to protect pension plans was blocked again; but promised, “We will get it done at some point.”

“If Congress can bail out Wall Street and can bail out farmer who don’t even want bailout, but were forced to take one because of the loss of markets; we can damn sure bail out our pension funds so that our workers can retire with dignity.”

Jones said that Alabama is the tenth most vulnerable state to losing jobs to automation and that he was cosponsoring a bill with Dick Durbin to deal with the automation threat.

Jones said of the Republican candidates for Senate: “Their only real attribute is their support for Donald Trump. They have Donald Trump’s back. You need a Senator who has your back.”

I am not trying to tell you not to support Donald Trump; “But the fact of the matter is that his administration has systematically supported employers over workers,” Jones said.

“The number of workplace safety inspectors have fallen to lowest level in the half century of the agency’s (OSHA) existence. He cancelled a very modest pay increase of 2.1percent for federal workers,” he has appointed anti-labor members to the National Labor Relations Board, supported right to work laws across the country, and taken a sledgehammer to rules preventing exposure to chemicals.

“The Administration is sending the message that you are on your own,” Jones said. “You are not on your own as long as I am in the Senate.”

Riley presented Jones with a plaque,

Reporters asked Jones about his upcoming automation legislation.

“We need to make sure that the people who might be displaced get the training that they need,” Jones said.

Reporters also asked Jones about tweets over the weekend from Alabama Democratic Conference Chair Joe Reed suggesting that Jones will not have Black support in the general election and will lose next year.

“This is not about me and it is not about Joe Reed it is about the future of the Alabama Democratic Party,” Jones said. “For a long time the leadership of the Alabama Democratic party has been leading us on a death spiral.”

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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Palmer supports legislation making unused PPP funds available to small businesses

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Friday, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) added his signature to a discharge petition that would force a vote on H.R. 8265, which would allow unused Paycheck Protection Program funds to be made available for small businesses.

There is an estimated $137 billion remaining in the Payroll Protection Program that could be immediately available to small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program has kept thousands of small businesses open since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are still in need as the economy continues to recover. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has repeatedly refused to hold a vote on further common-sense pandemic-related relief. The Democratic controlled House passed the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act, which Republicans opposed.

Palmer and House Republicans accuse Pelosi of holding American workers and businesses hostage until she gets trillions of dollars for far-left priorities.

“Speaker Pelosi has made her objectives abundantly clear,” Palmer said. “We could have negotiated and delivered immediate aid for small businesses and individuals weeks ago, but her leftist agenda always comes first. Many businesses are barely hanging, on anxiously awaiting the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, but Pelosi is determined to hold them hostage to get her way. She would like to bail out states that were bankrupt before the pandemic and further a welfare agenda that is harmful to the economy. Today, I proudly signed a discharge petition to circumvent Pelosi’s control of the House floor and force a vote on a bill that would bring real relief to businesses struggling to survive the pandemic. It’s time for Members of Congress to stand up for small businesses and American workers since the Speaker clearly won’t. Small businesses across the country can’t wait.”

A discharge petition on H.R. 8265 was filed on Friday by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington) and 218 signatures are needed to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. H.R. 8265 was introduced on September 16 by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

“This public health crisis has left our small businesses near permanent closure, and that will happen on a massive scale if Congress doesn’t act,” Rep. Herrera Beutker said. “Yet Congress isn’t acting, so I’ve filed the discharge petition in the House today so we can bypass the political posturing and bring relief to our nation’s small businesses and their employees. Other relief remains vital, but we either save jobs and businesses now or provide triage soon for the damage caused by empty buildings, lost livelihoods and health care plans, and fewer employment opportunities overall. Reviving the PPP has to be our priority.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program has served as a critical lifeline for America’s small businesses,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) explained. “Since its launch, the program is credited with saving 51 million jobs nationwide. But our work in helping small business owners stay open and keep employees on payroll is not done. A recent report indicates that as many as 36 percent small businesses say if no new funding comes from Congress soon, they will be forced to lay off workers or cut back hours. Democrats have consistently blocked or delayed relief, but Republicans are not giving up. That is why House Republicans, led by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler have filed a discharge petition to force a vote on a stand-alone extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of the year. It only needs 218 signatures to force a vote, so I hope that our Democrat colleagues will join us in delivering relief. My Republican colleagues and I will continue to act on our Commitment to America; we will be relentless in our fight to protect jobs, small businesses, and the American dream.”

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“Since March, small businesses—corner stores, retail shops, and family restaurants—have been struggling to survive,” bill sponsor Steve Chabot said. “Congress worked in a bipartisan manner to pass the CARES Act, which delivered rapid assistance to small firms through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program. Unfortunately, in recent months, additional relief for small businesses has been caught up in the partisan logjam and the livelihoods of real people hang in the balance. Congress must work together to get help to small businesses in Washington, Ohio, and across our great nation. Rep. Herrera Beutler’s discharge petition to force a vote on my legislation is the way to do just that. I thank her for her leadership on behalf of America’s small businesses.”

Multiple news outlets, including Roll Call and The Hill, are reporting that several House Democrats are “strongly considering” bucking their party to sign Herrera Beutler’s discharge petition.

Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. Palmer does not have a Democratic opponent in the November 3 general election.

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Agriculture Secretary Perdue to tour storm damage today

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate, and Gov. Ivey’s Chief of Staff former Congressman Jo Bonner will visit South Alabama today to tour damages following Hurricane Sally.

On Monday, Perdue, Pate, Byrne, and Bonner will visit Flowerwood Nursery, a horticulture operation in Loxley, Alabama, severely impacted by Hurricane Sally.

Perdue, Pate, and Byrne will also meet with Baldwin County farmers at a visit to Underwood Family Farm a pecan farm in Summerdale, AL.

Following the two stops in Alabama, Secretary Perdue will visit Jenkins Farm in Jay, FL, a cotton farm impacted by Hurricane Sally. The Secretary will hold a roundtable discussion with local Florida farmers and stakeholders impacted by Hurricane Sally.

Hurricane Sally came ashore on September 16 as a category 2 hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds and torrential rains. The wind, the downpour, and then the flooding devastated crops in the area as well as blowing down trees and damaging homes, and businesses. Sally was the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama in sixteen years.

“Throughout Southwest Alabama, winds and flooding have left many without essentials like power, water and shelter,” Rep. Byrne said on Thursday. “Fortunately, help is on the way.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who experienced significant damage during this powerful hurricane.” Commissioner Pate said, “Alabama farmers have already faced economic hardships this year due to market instability, trade concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.”

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Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia Counties have been declared a natural disaster area by the Trump Administration.

“I went up to Escambia County today to check out some storm damage around Atmore and meet with local officials,” Rep. Byrne said. “Thanks to Sheriff Jackson for showing me some of the damage. It wasn’t just the coastal counties who took a beating from Hurricane Sally. Residents of Escambia County are all eligible to seek Individual Assistance from FEMA for any disaster related issues.”

The Alabama Farmers Federation has started a relief fund so that people can help Alabama farmers who were impacted by Hurricane Sally.

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Sewell: Confirming Barrett before the election would undermine Supreme Court’s legitimacy

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell (via Office of Rep. Terri Sewell)

Saturday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) released a statement claiming that President Donald J. Trump’s (R) nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court was tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and that confirming Judge Barrett would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court nomination by President Trump today, with the 2020 presidential election only 38 days away, denies the American people a voice in this very important decision,” Rep. Sewell said. “The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise not to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court so close to a presidential election. This standard articulated by Senate Republicans was applied against President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland eight months before the 2016 presidential election. This blatant power grab by Trump and Senate Republicans is especially disturbing given that the voting process has already begun with hundreds of thousands of voters having cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.”

“Fairness and comity demand that the Senate not confirm any vacancy on the Supreme Court until the American people have chosen the next president,” Sewell concluded. “To do otherwise, I believe would undermine the very legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”

Friday before Barrett was even nominated, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) announced that he will not support any Trump nominee for the Supreme Court for the vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Jones stated, “I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election.”

“Justice Ginsburg was a role model and an inspiration,” Sen. Jones said. She was a brilliant and tireless advocate, a champion for fairness and equality, and her efforts have brought our country closer to the ideals upon which it was founded.”

“It is a poor reflection of the state of our national politics that, just hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we were thrust into a divisive partisan fight over her successor, denying the nation the time to mourn this extraordinary American’s death,” Jones continued. “Just weeks from a national election, we are confronting a blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President that will undermine the court and subvert the will of the American people.”

“Just four years ago, Leader McConnell held open a Supreme Court seat for ten months before a presidential election because he said time and again that, in an election year, we must let the American people decide,” Jones said. “If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election?”

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“I believe the answer to this question is a resounding YES,” Jones continued. “This is especially true given the urgent legislative work we have yet to do. Leader McConnell should turn his focus instead to protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people by bringing a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief package up for a vote. We also need to pass the National Defense Authorization Act to support our military. We need to pass our annual funding bills instead of kicking the can down the road with yet another costly continuing resolution. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has languished in this Senate, in order to protect the right of all Americans to vote and participate in our democracy.”

“Consequently, under these circumstances, I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election,” Jones explained. We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan confirmation fight while Americans are already voting to choose the next President. If President Trump is re-elected, I will evaluate any pending or future nominee on their merits and vote for or against the nominee based solely on their qualifications.”

Trump has already appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Barack H. Obama (D) only got to select two of his nominees to the court. When conservative icon Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 – the previous election year, Republicans led by McConnell and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) blocked Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland.

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Jones also voted against previous Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Sewell has no Republican general election opponent.

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Palmer bill would give states flexibility in spending remaining coronavirus relief funds

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Gary Palmer

Thursday, Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, introduced the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act HR8360, which would allow states to determine how to spend their remaining Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars, issued under the CARES Act.

“The initial legislation was perhaps too restrictive,” Rep. Palmer said. “What we hope to do with this legislation is not only create some flexibility to prevent waste but to incentivize states to use the funds towards much needed infrastructure. The one-size-fits-all nature of the underlying measure fails to consider how each state is responding to the pandemic differently, so this legislation would put the spending decisions in the hands of those on the ground in the states who have a better understanding of their specific needs. If we pass this bill, we will give states a much needed boost for infrastructure and an extended period to determine how to address continued COVID-19 related expenses, instead of rushing to spend the funds with a looming deadline.”

States and localities were provided with $150 billion through the CARES Act relief fund for mitigation and response to COVID-19. Alabama legislators originally thought they could do whatever they wanted with that money. State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, even went so far as to produce a wish list that included $hundreds of millions for broadband expansion and even a new Statehouse. Federal authorities however made it clear that there were restrictions on what that money could be used for. It can not be used to make up for lost revenues due to the lengthy economic shutdowns, the dramatic cutbacks in travel and hospitality, and the reductions in business capacity.

It is now estimated that approximately $80 billion remains unspent. HR8360 would allow state legislatures to determine how to utilize these remaining funds, with measures to encourage infrastructure development and future COVID-19 preparedness.

Palmer said that the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act would prohibit funds from being spent on government employee bonuses, lobbying expenses, or budget shortfalls predating the pandemic, while providing a 50 percent match for funds spent on infrastructure projects begun in the next year. It would also require states to hold 25 percent of their remaining relief funds in trust for future COVID-19 expenses.

The states are currently supposed to return any unspent CARES Act money in January.

Democrats have been pushing for a massive $1 trillion plus bailout of cash strapped state and local governments; but the White House and congressional Republicans have resisted this call, arguing that would be just rewarding state and local governments for poor fiscal planning. The White House and Senate Republicans are in negotiations with Democratic leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on a possible compromise coronavirus relief bill prior to the November 3 general election.

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Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. Palmer has not Democratic opponent in the November 3 General Election.

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