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Congress

Jerry Carl “upset” that Hightower is still running ads

Brandon Moseley

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Jerry Carl, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, has said he is suspending advertising due to the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 is an often fatal illness caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City China late in 2019. Carl called on his Republican primary opponent former State Senator Bill Hightower to do the same.

“With the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) throughout Alabama and the uncertainty of the March 31st election now up in the air, I am suspending all paid advertising for my campaign,” Carl said. “I urge Bill Hightower and outside groups supporting or opposing either candidate to put politics aside and do the same at this delicate time. Although this is an important election, focusing on the health and safety of our friends, family, and neighbors is of the utmost importance. There will be a proper time to resume campaign advertising in the future, but for now, we need to focus on mitigating the effects of this virus in our communities and throughout our great nation.”

Following that statement, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey moved the primary runoffs back to July 14.

After Hightower and his supporting groups did not pull the ads, Carl chastised Hightower over not following Carl’s example.

“Yesterday, our campaign urged Bill Hightower and all other groups supporting candidates in this race to immediately suspend all paid campaign advertising so that the public can focus on the health and safety of their friends and families,” Carl said. “Since that time, the City of Mobile, as well as Mobile County, have declared states of emergency. And, our election on March 31st is in limbo as state officials are working through whether or not to postpone the runoff election. Restaurants are being forced to shut down. Schools are canceled. And our workers are being asked to stay home.”

“Shamefully, Bill Hightower has decided to continue his deceitful television commercials that are nothing more than lies,” Carl continued. Apparently, he would rather put himself above the health of our community. At a time when our country must come together, Bill Hightower is continuing to tear our country apart.”

“Bill, it’s time to put politics aside and hit pause on the campaign,” Carl added. “There will be a time and place for politics, but right now, it’s time to help our neighbors. I call on Bill Hightower’s campaign to immediately end all paid advertising that is still running on television and focus on what’s important right now – helping our community through this pandemic.”

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As of press time, Alabama has 157 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County has 71 cases, Shelby 17, Madison 16, Lee 16, Tuscaloosa 7, Elmore 6, St. Clair 3, Montgomery 3, Cullman 2, Lauderdale 2, Baldwin 2, Mobile 2, and Chambers 2. Jackson, Calhoun, Walker, Talladega, Limestone, Washington, Marion, and Lamar Counties all have 1 confirmed case. There are still no official deaths; but there are reports of deaths where COVID-19 is suspected of having playing a role.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff on November 3.

 

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Congress

Brooks named “Taxpayer’s Friend” by the National Taxpayers Union

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, The National Taxpayers Union (“NTU”) announced that Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, has been named a “Taxpayer’s Friend” by the National Taxpayers Union. Brooks is one of only 48 U.S. House members to be so honored. The National Taxpayers Union is America’s leading grassroots, pro-taxpayer advocacy group.

“The NTU is America’s preeminent nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization focusing on restraining excess federal government spending and opposing higher taxes,” Brooks said. “I’m honored the National Taxpayers Union evaluated my voting record and declared me as one of only 48 Congressmen (out of 435) to receive their prestigious ‘Taxpayer’s Friend’ award for votes cast in 2019.”

“America’s national debt blew through $23 trillion in November, $24 trillion in April, and $25 trillion in May,” Brooks warned. “In April, the federal government set a record for the largest and worst ever one month deficit of $738 billion. In 2020, things will only get worse inasmuch as the federal government will spend at least $50,000 per American household this year! That spending is financed with taxes, higher debt, or inflation causing money printing. Unfortunately, Washington Socialists are hell-bent on bankrupting America and using the ensuing crisis to morph America into a Socialist country, with all of the poverty and economic malaise and loss of freedom and liberty that that entails.”

“Financial responsibility is more important now than ever,” Brooks stated. “I’ll continue to take pro-taxpayer stands for financial responsibility, and I’ll keep voting to avoid a disastrous American insolvency and bankruptcy. I’m thankful the National Taxpayers Union is an ally in the fight.”

In 2019, NTU based its comprehensive analysis on 153 U.S. House votes on bills that affect spending or require tax increases.

Congressman Brooks scored an 89 percent which is an A on NTU’s scorecard. The average House Republican scored 75 percent. The average score in the Alabama House delegation was 67 percent. No Alabama House delegation member ranked higher than Congressman Brooks.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, only received a seven percent score from the NTU. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, received a 32 percent score. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Selma, received just a 6 percent rating. The NTU scored Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, 59 percent, Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, 60 percent, Mike Rogers, R-Saks, 74 percent, Bradly Byrne, R-Montrose, 86 percent, and Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, 89 percent.

Founded in 1969, National Taxpayers Union is the “Voice of America’s Taxpayers.” Their stated mission is to achieve favorable policy outcomes using the most effective pro-taxpayer team on Capitol Hill and in the states. They claim that their lobbying skills, media savvy, policy expertise, and reputation for advancing pragmatic solutions are unrivaled. NTU was the driving force behind the successful push for comprehensive tax reform in 2017. “In the years ahead, we will push back on unprincipled revenue grabs across the country, roll back unnecessary regulations, and encourage the investment, innovation, and free trade that will guarantee economic growth and promote a thriving free enterprise system. Additionally, NTU will work to cut out-of-control government spending so that tomorrow’s generations won’t face higher taxes or lower living standards.”

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Congressman Mo Brooks is in his fifth term representing Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

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Congress

Byrne opposes Trump plan to use U.S. military to stop unrest

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump said he would deploy active-duty American armed forces to stop unrest in major American cities if governors fail to use the National Guard.

On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that he opposed the president’s plan. Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, has been a staunch Trump supporter in the House of Representatives, but he also said that he opposed the president on this.

“I agree with Secretary Esper,” Byrne said on Twitter. “At this time there is absolutely no reason to use the Insurrection Act to deploy active duty U.S. forces. This is an option that should only be used as a last resort.”

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support for civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement,” Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday. “I say that not only as Secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard. The option to use active-duty U.S. armed forces in a law enforcement rule should be used only as a last resort and then only in the most urgent and dire of situation. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

This is directly counter to the policy stated by Trump on Monday.

“Innocent people of have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street. Or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerous thugs,” Trump said. “Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s Finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct station has been overrun. Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African-American enforcement hero, was shot and killed.”

“These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror,” Trump stated. “Violence against any American will never be tolerated. Tonight, President Trump announced executive actions to stop the rioting and restore safety to our cities.

Trump recommended every governor deploy the National Guard and establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take action, then the U.S. Military will be deployed.

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The president also announced decisive action to protect Washington, D.C., and our cherished national monuments. “As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.”

At this time, we do not know if the president’s policy will actually be carried out or not as the Trump Administration official tasked with carrying out the policy, Mark Esper has, announced his public opposition to the plan.

There were riots in Birmingham on Sunday. A number of people, including reporters, were assaulted dozens of businesses were burglarized and looted and much of Birmingham’s downtown was vandalized. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has declared a state of emergency and instituted a citywide curfew between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

That has since been extended to all of Jefferson County and is in place through June 9. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has activated one thousand Alabama National Guard troops to be deployed if requested.

Congressman Bradley Byrne is not running for another term representing Alabama’s First Congressional District.

(Original reporting by the Hill contributed to this report.)

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Congress

Brooks, Palmer join lawsuit against House’s proxy voting rule change

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, and Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, have joined constituents and members of the House Republican Conference as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a recently passed resolution that allows representatives to cast votes for themselves and others on the House floor, known as proxy voting.

The rule change was supported largely by Democrats along party lines who said it was needed during the pandemic to protect the health and safety of members of Congress.

“This rule change is not a mere procedure change, but a direct assault on the Constitution and over 200 years of precedent,” Palmer said. “The Constitution requires that Congress assembles. There is no emergency so great that Congress cannot meet to do its job of representing the people.”

Brooks said the proxy voting scheme is not only “unprecedented and antithetical” to the job of a House member, but it is also “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution requires that a ‘a Majority of each (House of Congress) shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; . . . and (each House) may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members,'” Brooks said. “The Constitution requires that the House assemble a majority of its Members to conduct business, and there is no more serious House business than voting.”

Palmer said members of Congress should rise to the challenge of the pandemic and meet in person.

“Our history is littered with wars, pandemics, and attacks on American soil, but none of that has ever prevented Congress from meeting to do the people’s business,” Palmer said. “The current public health crisis should not change that precedent. Precautions can be taken, but Congress must show up to work like everyone else.”

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California is the leader of the proxy vote lawsuit. Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, is already one of the plaintiffs.

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Byrne sues Speaker Pelosi to stop House rule changes

“The Constitution is clear that a majority must be present for the House to conduct business,” Byrne said. “Speaker Pelosi’s attempt to allow Democrats to cast multiple ‘proxy’ votes for their colleagues is a blatant violation of the Constitution. Under rules adopted last week, as few as 22 Democrats could claim a quorum and win a vote against all 197 Republicans. This scheme gives Pelosi and her lieutenants complete and dangerous unconstitutional powers. If Democrats won’t show up to vote, they should turn the speaker’s gavel over to Leader McCarthy and the Republicans who are actually willing to show up and work for the people they represent.”

“This week, House Democrats will break over 230 years of precedent and allow Members of Congress to vote by proxy on the House floor,” Leader McCarthy said. “This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American people’s voice during a crisis. Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed. That is why, along with other members of the House and our constituents, I have filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn Speaker Pelosi’s unconstitutional power grab.”

The Republican plaintiffs point out that in the last 231 years, the House of Representatives has never permitted a member to vote by proxy from the floor of the chamber. This includes during the Yellow Fever of 1793, the Civil War, the burning of the Capitol during the War of 1812, the Spanish Flu of 1918 and 9/11.

The GOP plaintiffs claim that voting by proxy is flatly prohibited by the Constitution.

Article I, Section 4, Clause 2 states: “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall . . . .” o Article I, Section 5, Clause 1 states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections . . . and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; . . . and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members.” o Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 states: “The Senators and Representatives . . . shall . . . be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses” • The constitution clearly contemplates the physical gathering together of representatives as a deliberative body. As the Supreme Court has held, to constitute a “quorum” necessary to “do business,” the Constitution requires “the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present the power of the house arises.” United States v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1, 6 (1892)

The plaintiffs have filed a constitutional challenge in the D.C federal district court seeking to enjoin the use of proxy voting in the United States House of Representatives.

Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. Alabama Democrats were unable to find candidates willing to challenge either of the two popular incumbents. Brooks did defeat a Republican challenger in March.

 

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Byrne sues Speaker Pelosi to stop House rule changes

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, announcing that he is filing a lawsuit against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, alleging that the Speaker’s new coronavirus emergency rules allowing members of Congress to proxy vote violates the United States Constitution.

“The Constitution is clear that a majority must be present for the House to conduct business,” Rep. Byrne said. “Speaker Pelosi’s attempt to allow Democrats to cast multiple ‘proxy’ votes for their colleagues is a blatant violation of the Constitution. Under rules adopted last week, as few as 22 Democrats could claim a quorum and win a vote against all 197 Republicans. This scheme gives Pelosi and her lieutenants complete and dangerous unconstitutional powers. If Democrats won’t show up to vote, they should turn the speaker’s gavel over to Leader McCarthy and the Republicans who are actually willing to show up and work for the people they represent.”

Byrne is joined in this lawsuit by 20 other Republican members of Congress led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California). The suit has been filed in D.C. Federal District Court challenging the constitutionality of H. RES 965, the House Democrats plan to vote by proxy.

“This week, House Democrats will break over 230 years of precedent and allow Members of Congress to vote by proxy on the House floor,” leader McCarthy said in a statement. “This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American people’s voice during a crisis. Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed. That is why, along with other members of the House and our constituents, I have filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn Speaker Pelosi’s unconstitutional power grab.”

“Already, nearly 60 Democrats have written to the House Clerk to give their vote to another member, and there is one member who presently represents 5 congressional districts under this proxy scheme,” McCarthy continued. “Those numbers can and will grow, while the number of members who cast votes in person shrinks. Ultimately, as few as 20 members could control the vote of over 220 members under this rule for the foreseeable future. That is not only irresponsible leadership, it is patently unconstitutional, as 230 years of Congressional history and Supreme Court precedent make abundantly clear.”

“Worse, by changing the rules in a way that violates the Constitution itself, Democrats are creating a precedent for further injustice,” Rep. McCarthy said. “If their changes are acceptable, what stops the majority from creating a “House Rule” that stipulates the minority party’s votes only count for half of the majority party’s? This is not the representative democracy our Founders envisioned or what our Constitution allows. It is tyranny of the majority. The Speaker’s reckless and partisan decision to adopt proxy voting was done despite unified opposition from the minority and even members of her own party. This is a serious matter that will damage the integrity of the House’s actions now and in the future. While the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself — namely, the requirement of actual assembly. Rapid and robust legal relief is necessary. The alternative — a small number of members dictating the businesses of the whole House while the people’s voice is diluted — is unacceptable and would only make it more difficult for Congress to respond in the national interest. We must assemble.”

Representing the plaintiffs is Chuck Cooper and Joel Alicea (lead counsel), and Elliott Berke (outside counsel). The plaintiffs are asking the Court to enjoin the use of proxy voting.

The complaint alleges that proxy voting was never before authorized by the House, is unconstitutional, violating the Quorum and Yeas and Nays Clauses contained in Article I, Section 5, among other provisions.

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The proxy voting was authorized due to a number of Democratic members not wishing to travel to Washington during the coronavirus pandemic claiming that they were fearful to attend due to health concerns. There was no proxy voting by members of Congress during the 1969 flu pandemic, the 1919 flu global pandemic which killed millions, or even during the Civil War when Confederate military forces threatened the Capitol. Being a member of Congress posed significant health risks in the earliest decades of this country due to problems with disease due to poor drainage at the site.

774 Americans died Tuesday from COVID-19, including 16 Alabamians, raising the American dead toll from the coronavirus to 100,579. 1,725,275 Americans have been diagnosed as infected with the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. Byrne is not running for re-election.

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