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Shelby, Jones vote for $484 billion coronavirus relief bill

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, and Doug Jones, D-Alabama, both applauded the Senate’s passage Tuesday of the “Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act.”

The $484 billion measure provides additional funding to assist small businesses and meet the urgent healthcare needs of American families and workers during the COVID-19 public health pandemic.

The PPP had run out of money last week, leaving many businesses unable to access the funds that were intended as a lifeline to keep businesses financially solvent during the forced economic shutdown that is now in its seventh week.

“I am proud we were finally able to come to an agreement to reopen and continue funding the vital Paycheck Protection Program, along with other resources that will help American workers and families during this difficult time,” said Senator Shelby. “Since its recent implementation, the Paycheck Protection Program has provided much-needed relief for many small businesses suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in Alabama and across the nation. This legislation, which also includes urgent funds for hospitals and healthcare providers, is another important step in protecting and rebuilding our nation’s economy. I look forward to the work still to come.”

“I’m relieved that we were able to come together to pass broad, bipartisan legislation that acknowledges the urgent needs that workers, hospitals, and small businesses are experiencing,” said Senator Jones. “This improved legislation provides another $371 billion in relief for hard-hit small businesses and their workers, while also now providing $100 billion for our strained hospitals, and $25 billion to increase our testing and tracing capacity. And while today’s bill was an important step to take, I am disappointed that it did not include relief for our state and local governments. Alabama is already facing an estimated shortfall of $1.7 billion to our state budget. I’m encouraged that the President has indicated support for this relief, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure we can include it in the next major package of legislation we consider.”

The $484 billion coronavirus relief package includes $100 billion for urgent health care needs, including $75 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers and $25 billion to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand existing capacity for COVID-19 tests. The legislation contains $320 billion to continue funding the PPP, of which $60 billion is set aside for loans made by smaller insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions. It also contains $60 billion for Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The bill includes$10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program.

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The PPP was passed as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act. As of April 17, 2020, a total of 27,922 loans were approved in Alabama through the PPP, amounting to $4,862,690,120. 60 percent of the loans accepted for the program were approved by banks with $10 billion of assets or less.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had proposed a $250 bill to replenish the PPP back on Friday, April 10; but Democrats rejected that proposal because they wanted a larger more comprehensive coronavirus relief bill with more oversight than the original PPP. This package has $321 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) PPP, which is $71 billion more than McConnell’s original proposal. Democrats asked for and got $75 billion in emergency money for the health care system.

This bill also expanded eligibility for the EIDL program to agricultural businesses with fewer than 500 employees, which Senator Jones has advocated for on behalf of Alabama farmers. This plan includes $30 billion to assist Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, community-focused lending intermediaries, and the smallest community banks and credit unions.

The packages includes $25 billion to increase testing and contact tracing capabilities. This is essential under the White House guidelines to reopen the economy. On Tuesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said that the state needed to test more than the less than one percent of the state who have been tested before she would lift any of her COVID-19 orders including the stay at home order. Ivey is under increasing pressure to open the Alabama economy by May 1. Ivey said that her decision on reopening the economy will be data driven not date driven.

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The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for their consideration. If passed by the House, President Donald J. Trump (R) is expected to sign it.

Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses have urged Congress to replenish the money in the PPP, which ran out on Thursday.

As of press time, 819,175 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, that causes COVID-19. 45,341 Americans have died from COVID-19, most of them in the last four weeks.

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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Sewell votes in favor of National Apprenticeship Act

The bill would invest more than $3.5 billion to create nearly one million new apprenticeship opportunities.

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, last week voted in favor of the National Apprenticeship Act, legislation to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its enactment in 1937.

The new National Apprenticeship Act will create one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years. Registered apprenticeships provide workers with paid, on-the-job training, and are the nation’s most successful federal workforce training program.

“As a long-time supporter of expanding registered apprenticeships, I am thrilled to support today’s legislation to provide 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities over five years,” Sewell said. “Our Nation is facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and estimates show that more than 7 million of the pandemic’s job losses will be permanent. We need bold investments like those in the National Apprenticeship Act to accelerate the economy and help get the American people back to work in stable, good-paying jobs of the future.”

The bill invests more than $3.5 billion over the next five years.

The act establishes a $400 million grant program to support the expansion of apprenticeship opportunities, including pre-apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships, which will increase $100 million annually to reach $800 million by 2025.

The legislation also codifies and streamlines standards for registered apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to make it easier for both apprentices and employers to participate in high-quality apprenticeships and codifies the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

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It directs the office to convene industry leaders, labor organizations, educators and others to expand apprenticeships into new occupations and sectors.

Supporters say the bill could yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance, and that nothing is more effective at breaking the cycle of poverty than a well-paying full-time job.

Sewell is about to enter her sixth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.

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Sewell named a conferee to Defense Authorization Act conference committee

This will be the second year that Sewell has been selected as an NDAA conferee.

Brandon Moseley

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

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, named Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, to serve on a conference committee of the House and Senate versions of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

NDAA conferees from the House and Senate will work together to resolve differences between the distinct defense authorization bills passed by each chamber in June 2020.

This will be the second year that Sewell has been selected as an NDAA conferee.

“The House and Senate have historically put politics aside on behalf of the American people to pass the NDAA,” Sewell said. “This critically important legislation authorizes our national defense priorities for the year and provides our brave men and women with the resources needed to carry out their missions across the world. I am committed to continuing this tradition and working to exclude any partisan provisions that threaten the defense and wellbeing of our nation. As a Representative from a state that plays such a major part in our national security, I am honored to be able to play such a significant role as a conferee for the second consecutive year.”

The NDAA authorizes funding to equip, supply and train U.S. troops and support military families. The bill has been passed by Congress for 58 continuous years.

Sewell is a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and chair of the Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support.

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Sewell said that she is committed to continuing this bipartisan tradition of passing a smart defense bill that provides service members with the resources they need to address and counter today’s increasingly complex national security challenges.

As an FY2020 NDAA conferee, Sewell was successful in securing language to improve federal campaign election security, increase intelligence funding, and promote increased diversity in the Intelligence Community’s workforce.

She also worked closely with Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, to successfully repeal the Military Widow’s Tax, which unfairly taxed military widows and widowers’ survivor benefits.

The 116th Congress is likely not going to pass a formal budget again this year. At this time, it is still not clear if Congress will pass a continuing resolution or an omnibus bill to keep the government funded going forward.

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A government shutdown is possible but is not expected.

Sewell is serving in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. On Nov. 3, she was elected to her sixth term. The popular congresswoman did not have a Republican or Democratic opponent.

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Byrne donates congressional records to University of South Alabama

Byrne’s term representing the 1st Congressional District will end at the end of the year when the 116th Congress ends.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Thursday visited the University of South Alabama to formally sign an agreement donating his congressional records to the university.

“I visited The University of South Alabama today to sign an agreement officially donating my Congressional records to South Alabama for research purposes,” Byrne said. “This carries on a tradition started by Congressman Jack Edwards. South Alabama will now be home to records from Congressman Edwards, Congressman Callahan, Congressman Bonner, and myself. It was an honor to keep the tradition going!”

Byrne’s term representing the 1st Congressional District will end at the end of the year when the 116th Congress ends. Byrne ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate rather than running for re-election to the U.S. Congress.

Byrne has represented the 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2014. Byrne was elected in a special election to fill the vacant seat after Congressman Jo Bonner left Congress to accept a position working for the University of Alabama system. Bonner is presently Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff.

Byrne previously served on the state school board, in the Alabama Senate and as chancellor of the Alabama Two Year College System. Byrne is an attorney. He has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. He graduated from UMS-Wright Preparatory School.

Alabama’s 1st Congressional District has been in Southwest Alabama since 1843 (the First had been in Huntsville and North Alabama following statehood and then Northeast Alabama).

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Since the 1st was relocated to its present home in Southwest Alabama it has been represented by James Dellet with the Whig Party from 1843 to 1845, Democrat Edmund Strother Dargan from 1845 to 1847, Whig John Gayle 1847 to 1849, Whig William Alston 1849 to 1851, Democrat John Bragg from 1851 to 1853, Democrat Phillip Phillips 1853 to 1855, Know Nothing Percy Walker 1855 to 1857, Democrat James Stallworth 1857 to 1861, there was no representation in the U.S. Congress during and after the Civil War, Republican Francis Kellogg 1868 to 1869, Republican Alfred Buck 1869 to 1871, Republican Benjamin Turner 1871 to 1873, Liberal Republican Frederick Bromberg 1873 to 1875, Republican Jeremiah Haralson 1875 to 1877, Democrat James Jones 1877 to 1879, Democrat Thomas Herndon 1879 to 1883, Democrat James Jones 1883 to 1889, Democrat Richard Clarke 1889 to 1897, Democrat George Taylor 1897 to 1915, Democrat Oscar Gray 1915 to 1919, Democrat John McDuffie 1919 to 1935, Democrat Frank Boykin 1935 to 1963, the districts were inactive as Congress was elected statewide from 1963 to 1965, Republican Jack Edwards 1965 to 1985, Republican Sonny Callahan 1985 to 2003, Republican Jo Bonner 2003 to 2013, and Byrne since 2014.

The head of the Mobile County Commission, Republican Jerry Carl, is the congressman-elect for the 1st Congressional District. Carl will succeed Byrne when the 117th Congress begins on Jan. 3.

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Tuberville appoints Stan McDonald to chair his transition team

Stan McDonald is a Huntsville attorney and will be chair of Tuberville’s transition team.

Brandon Moseley

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Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville. (VIA TUBERVILlE CAMPAIGN)

Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville on Monday named Stan McDonald the chair of his campaign transition committee as well as the other members of his transition committee.

“I look forward to working with the committee as I prepare to serve Alabama in the United States Senate,” said Tuberville. “This is a job I do not take lightly.”

Stan McDonald, a Huntsville attorney, will be chair of the transition team, and the team includes: Tripp Skipper from Auburn, who is with the Skipper Group; Terry Harbin from Mobile, who is the Market President for BancorpSouth Bank; John Ferguson from Dothan, a Dothan City Commissioner; Duwan Walker from Prattville, the CEO of Hi.Ed; Jeff Brooks from Birmingham, the CEO of HighPoint Holdings; Steve Raby from Huntsville, with Direct Communications; RJ Rhodes from Huntsville, a retired businessman; Chester McKinney from Florence, the owner of McVantage; and John Wahl from Athens, the Vice-Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

Tuberville defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones last week in the Nov. 3 general election. Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. This was his first run for public office.

Congressman-elect Jerry Carl also announced the chairman of his transition team.

“I am proud to announce that Zach Weidlich will serve as my Transition Aide and point of contact as I prepare to take office at the beginning of January,” Carl said. “Since November 3rd, I have been working to set up my office and assemble my staff, and I look forward to announcing key staff positions in the coming days. I am confident that we will have a team of exceptional people who will serve Alabama’s 1st Congressional District well.”

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Carl defeated Democratic nominee James Averhart on Nov. 3 to win Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

Carl is currently head of the Mobile County Commission. Carl replaced incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, who did not run for another term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Carl previously started and ran a series of small businesses in the Mobile area.

Congressman-elect Barry Moore, the third newcomer to the Alabama congressional delegation, has not announced the members of his transition team yet in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

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