Tuesday, a triumphant President Donald J. Trump (R) spoke for an hour and eleven minutes on the many accomplishments of his administration in the annual State of the Union address before a joint meeting of Congress in House Chambers. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said that the speech focused on advancement.
“The President’s address to Congress tonight was an encouraging reminder of all that we have accomplished throughout his time in office,” Shelby said. “From fostering a thriving economy and generating job creation to building a robust military and protecting our national security interests, the nation has experienced tremendous growth.”
“The positive trajectory highlighted in tonight’s speech focused on advancements at the national level and also laid out an optimistic vision for the state of Alabama,” Shelby continued. “Our state’s unemployment rate is at a record low, businesses are booming, and job growth continues to skyrocket.”
“I look forward to continuing on this path to success paved by President Trump, and I will strive to work with both this Administration and my colleagues in Congress to accomplish what is best for Alabama and the nation,” Shelby stated.
Trump appeared jubilant as he cited a number of accomplishments in a speech that took one hour and eleven minutes. Trump is just the third President in American history to be impeached by Congress; but the impeachment has united Republicans behind him and he will probably be acquitted by the Republican controlled Senate later today. On Friday, 51 of 53 Republican Senators voted that there was no need to hear any additional evidence or testimony from witnesses before the vote to acquit the President. On Tuesday, Susan Collins of Maine, one of the two GOP Senators who opposed that resolution, said that she will vote to acquit the President on both Articles of Impeachment. Trump was impeached by the smallest vote margin in history and he will receive the largest margin of victory in history in the Senate. It takes a two thirds vote to convict and remove a President. Andrew Johnson came within one vote of being removed. The Senate voted 50 to 50 when it considered the impeachment trial of Pres. William J/ “Bill” Clinton.
Trump’s approval ratings hit the high point in his President thus far in a poll by Gallup that was released Tuesday ahead of the speech. 49 percent approved of Trump’s job performance, 50 percent disapproved, while just one percent had not opinion. Trump’s previous high in the Gallup poll was 46 percent in May 2019 when he was cleared of wrongdoing in the Mueller report.
Trump presented legendary conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address. Melania put the medal on Limbaugh during the speech. Limbaugh, a former cigar smoker, announced yesterday during his show that he has advanced stage lung cancer. Trump also honored the last surviving Tuskegee airmen by promoting the Colonel to Brigadier General.
Senator Richard Shelby is serving in his sixth term representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the Alabama Senate.
Plaintiffs ask for panel of judges to reconsider ruling on Alabama voter ID law
Plaintiffs suing Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill alleging the state’s voter ID law discriminates against minorities on Monday asked a panel of judges to reconsider an appeals court decision that affirmed the law.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Monday filed a petition Monday asking that all of the judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reconsider the July 21 decision by a panel of three judges that fell 2-1 in favor of the state’s voter ID law.
The 2011 law requires voters in Alabama to show a valid, government-issued photo ID to vote. The NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and several minority voters sued, arguing that lawmakers knowingly crafted the law to prevent Black people and other minorities, who are less likely to have such photo IDs, from voting.
The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in its July 21 opinion found that the burden of Alabama’s voter ID law is minimal, and does not“violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, nor does it violate the Voting Rights Act.”
Merrill has argued that the state’s voter ID law is meant to deter in-person voting fraud and that the state makes available mobile photo ID units able to provide voters with the necessary IDs.
District Judge Darrin Gayles in his dissenting opinion wrote that voter fraud in Alabama is rare, and that “while there have been some limited cases of absentee voter fraud, in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent.”
Gayles wrote that Merrill presented evidence of just two instances of in-person voter fraud in Alabama’s history.
“Despite the lack of in-person voter fraud, Secretary Merrill claims Alabama enacted the Photo ID Law to combat voter fraud and to restore confidence in elections — a dubious position in light of the facts,” Gayles wrote.
Gayles noted that former State Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, before his retirement in 2010, sponsored similar voter ID bills.
“During this time, Senator Dixon made repeated comments linking photo identification legislation to race, including ‘the fact you don’t have to show an ID is very beneficial to the Black power structure and the rest of the Democrats’ and that voting without photo identification ‘benefits Black elected leaders, and that’s why they’re opposed to it,'” Gayles wrote in his dissenting opinion.
“It is clear from the statements of the legislators who enacted Alabama’s photo ID law that they passed it for the unconstitutional purpose of discriminating against voters of color,” said LDF senior counsel Natasha Merle in a statement Monday. “As long as this law is intact, Black and Latinx Alabamians will continue to be disproportionately excluded from the state’s electoral process.”
Attorneys in the filing Monday told the court that “roughly 118,000 Alabamians lack qualifying photo ID, and Black and Latinx voters are twice as likely to lack qualifying ID as compared to white voters. Given this evidence, a trial was required to determine whether HB19 violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.”
Jones: Trump executive orders are “more for show than actual help for the Americans people”
Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones had harsh words for recent executive orders that President Donald Trump signed in lieu of continuing to pursue a bipartisan legislative COVID relief package. Jones said that Trump’s executive orders extending coronavirus relief are “more for show than actual help for the American people.”
“While the President is attempting to give the appearance that he is leading the cavalry coming to the rescue of the American people, these executive orders are anything but that,” Jones said. “The executive order to extend the now-lapsed emergency unemployment assistance will cut benefits by $200 a week or more for Alabamians and asks states, whose budgets have already been burdened by the pandemic, to foot part of the bill. The payroll tax collection moratorium is a way for President Trump to follow through with his promise to defund Medicare and privatize social security by putting the solvency of these programs at risk while still leaving open the possibility that those taxes may need to be paid in a lump sum next year.”
“By signing these executive orders that are more for show than actual help for the American people, President Trump has confirmed that his administration has not acted in good faith and had no intention of reaching bipartisan agreement on legislation that would benefit all Americans,” Jones said. “The Senate, which absolutely should not have recessed without passing a relief package, needs to immediately return to Washington to pass legislation that provides adequate support for the Americans who are suffering as a result of this virus as well as our economy. We need to come to a bipartisan compromise that deals with the full slate of urgent issues facing our country: we need a national strategy for COVID testing and contact tracing, to extend federal eviction moratoriums, to provide much-needed funding for state and local governments, and to ensure schools have the resources they need to reopen safely — among so many other needs.”
Both parties wanted a fifth coronavirus aid package passed before Congress broke for August recess, but negotiations broke down between Democrats and the White House over the size of the aid package.
“It’s completely inexcusable that Mitch McConnell waited over two months after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to begin negotiations on this relief package, knowing full well that many of the programs that Americans have relied on during this crisis would expire at the end of July,” Jones continued. “The failure to negotiate an adequate bipartisan deal speaks to a broader breakdown in leadership in Washington, and I strongly urge my colleagues to put partisanship aside to come together to pass a relief bill as soon as possible. Lives and livelihoods are at stake, and each day we spend arguing over politics is another day that our institution fails the American people.”
Some Democrats have threatened to challenge the president’s executive actions in court. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Democrats would have a lot of explaining to do if they challenged the White House’s efforts to get enhanced unemployment benefits to Americans.
“We’ve cleared with the Office of Legal Counsel all these actions,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hardworking Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
The president’s executive actions would provide $400 in increased federal unemployment benefits, which is down $200 from the $600 enhancement that they were getting.
“We thought $400 was a fair compromise. We offered to continue to pay $600 while we negotiate, and the Democrats turned that down,” Mnuchin said.
The Democratic proposal that passed the House, the HEROES Act, would have added $3.4 trillion to the national debt.
Jones is trailing Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville in the race for U.S. Senate according to a poll released last week.
Brooks: Democratic relief proposals would make Americans more dependent on government
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, on Thursday said on social media that Democrats believe that redistributing wealth and expanding government handouts will help them in the 2020 elections.
“Socialist Democrats want as many Americans as possible dependent on the government,” Brooks said. “They perceive that redistributing wealth and expanding government handouts will help Democrats tremendously in the 2020 elections. The more Americans voting for a living rather than working for a living, the better the Socialist Democrats’ election chances.”
Fox Business Channel commentator Stuart Varney shared similar views to Brooks.
“The left doesn’t want you to work for your money, they want you to be dependent on a government handout which they control,” Varney said. “This is economic fantasy land, wealth confiscation, trashes the constitution. Money printing on a massive scale invites inflation. Socialism really is dangerous to your financial health.”
“You can see where the left is headed: tax the rich, print money, make us all dependent on the government,” said Varney. “They want to salvage political power from a government-ordered shutdown.”
In 1980, the entire national debt was just $903 billion. Since then, federal spending, much of it mandatory spending, has ballooned the size of government and the national debt. The debt has now grown to $26.6 trillion.
This year’s budget deficit is nearly triple what the whole debt was back then and Congress is debating another coronavirus aid package that would be paid by deficit spending.
One issue that Congress has been grappling with is how much money should the government give to people impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Conservatives are concerned that borrowing more money for more and more aid will grow the debt while discouraging people from working.
“A possible consequence of a poorly targeted, expansive government stimulus package?” said Heritage Foundation Research Fellow in Economics, Budget and Entitlements Rachel Greszler. “If you continue excessively high payments, then you end up just trading a global health pandemic for a fiscal crisis.”
“It’s neither fair nor helpful to tantalize unemployed workers with unemployment benefits equal to 150% or 200% of their usual earnings, because long-term unemployment leads to lower incomes and opportunities, as well as a decline in physical and mental health,” Greszler explained. “Policymakers should be focused on helping Americans get safely back to work, including granting new flexibilities to allow workplaces to adjust to the conditions of COVID-19.”
“Humans are hard-wired to be productive,” Greszler concluded. “They will be far better off if policymakers focus on enabling work opportunities—such as removing barriers to working, trading, innovating, and investing—than on incentivizing unemployment.”
Brooks is in his fifth term representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. He has no Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 general election. Brooks previously served in the Alabama House of Representatives, the Madison County Commission and as a prosecutor.
Chamber of Commerce stresses need for Congress to pass coronavirus aid
The executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Neil Bradley, on Saturday expressed concerns that Congress still needs to pass a coronavirus aid package, even though President Donald Trump did issue executive orders on the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“While well-intentioned, today’s Executive Orders are no substitute for Congressional action,” Bradley said. “For schools to get the resources to safely reopen, for small businesses to receive aid to stay afloat, to remove the threat of frivolous lawsuits, for families and our economy to get the support this moment requires, Congress must act. There is no alternative to Congress legislating and no excuse for their inaction.”
Both Republicans and Democrats had wanted to pass an economic aid deal, but the two sides wildly disagreed on the size of the aid bill and what aid should be given. Republicans favored a $1 trillion aid bill, while House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion package. The two sides failed to come to any compromise during a late Thursday night meeting at the White House.
On Saturday, President Trump responded by signing executive orders to extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes and offer federal eviction and student loan relief. The president announced the executive actions from his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he was spending the weekend.
Critics question the constitutionality of the president’s unilateral actions and if the relief goes far enough.
The unemployed will continue to get enhanced compensation of an additional $400 a week. This is down from the $600 boost they had been receiving under the CARES Act, which expired Saturday. Also gone is the Small Business Administration loan program: the Payroll Protection Program. The PPP was very popular with the business community.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy.