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Jones introduces bipartisan bill to help Alabama schools safely reopen this Fall

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U.S. Senator Doug Jones has joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in introducing a bill to help Alabama schools and colleges cover the costs of protecting students and educators from COVID-19. The Reopen Schools Safely Act will establish a new federal grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to help school districts and colleges reopen this fall.

“With school systems and universities across the country and in Alabama announcing their plans to bring back in-person learning this fall, we need to make sure schools can keep students, teachers, and other education staff safe and healthy. School budgets are already being cut due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, leaving schools with complex changes and adjustments to make without much funding to do it. It’s time for Congress to step up to fill the gap so students can safely get back to the classroom and parents can return to work with some peace of mind,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Education Committee.

“We appreciate very much the bipartisan sponsorship of this bill which strives to keep students safe at such a crucial time in their lives and college careers. Senators Jones, Stabenow and Cassidy are to be commended for their efforts.  We are deeply grateful for their support through this bipartisan legislation.” said Dr. John W. Stewart, III, President of the University of Montevallo.

Ryan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the School Superintendents of Alabama, said “Superintendents support the efforts of Senator Jones, Senator Stabenow and Senator Cassidy to pass legislation to help our schools open and operate safely in August.  Alabama recently released guidance on the reopening of schools and one of the highest priorities is to provide a safe environment for learning.  To provide safe classrooms and school environments, during this pandemic, our schools will have a tremendous increase in costs and at the same time, we are experiencing a loss in local revenue. This proposal would go a long way in providing the resources for keeping students, teachers, classrooms and schools safe.”

With the grant funding from this bill, school districts and colleges will have flexibility to use these funds for any expense needed to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. These expenses include personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, temperature-screening equipment, certified COVID-19 tests, and more. A conservative analysis by the School Superintendents Association found that an average school district needs up to $1.8 million to reopen safely. Governors, who will apply for the funding, will have the flexibility to determine the distribution of funds to local school districts, colleges, and universities based on the needs of their state. The program is intended to be temporary and includes a sunset provision for 2023.

 

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Aderholt supports the Republican Commitment to America plan

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt (VIA CSPAN)

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, released a statement this week in support of the Republican Commitment to America, a plan put forth by House Republicans if the voters will give them control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming elections.

“The future of our country will be determined in the next few months,” Aderholt said, “Make no mistake about it, what we do right now will have a ripple effect for many years to come. That’s why I fully support and endorse the Commitment to America, because the clear path toward a bright future is paved with a restoration of our way of life, the rebuilding of the greatest economy in history, and a renewal of the American Dream.”

“First and foremost, we need to restore our way of life,” Aderholt said. “We are well on the way to defeating the virus and deploying a vaccine. This also means we need to stop the rioting, defend the police, and help people feel safe again. Second, we must restore what was once the greatest economy the world has ever seen. We will support local businesses and spur activities to create new jobs. And it’s time for us to bring manufacturing back to America and hold China accountable for their unfair trade practices, their theft of intellectual property, and their crackdown on human rights. Finally, we must renew the American Dream and ensure it returns to the pedestal it belongs on. This starts by giving every family a choice in where to send their kids to school, taking care of and hiring our veterans, and promoting opportunities for workforce development.”

“This Commitment to America is the right path to take as a country, and I would encourage my colleagues across the aisle to work with us as we enter the final stretch of 2020,” Aderholt said. “Restoring, rebuilding, and renewing our country is critically important right now, so let’s get to work.”

“We are announcing our Commitment to America with three specific objectives: restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in history, and renew the American dream,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California.

“To rebuild our economy, we will commit to get America working again and add 10 million new jobs through proven, pro-growth policies,” McCarthy said. “That starts with $200 billion in forgivable loans to local businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. This program, which I call our Marshall Plan for Main Street, has already saved 51 million jobs and can still save more. Democrats’ continued refusal to pass more relief over politics will only take our economy backward.”

“Without question, we must and we will defeat COVID-19 and keep America healthy,” McCarthy said. “To restore our way of life, we will work to triple rapid testing nationwide, deliver a vaccine that is safe, effective, and available by the end of the year, protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, and invest in therapeutics while lowering drug prices across the board.”

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“Following the recommendations of the China Task Force that House Republicans established last spring, we will increase U.S. manufacturing and build supply chain resiliency through full expensing on a permanent basis for all U.S. investment and restoration of domestic production tax credits,” McCarthy said. “While Democrats ignore the threat from China, Republicans will take it head on.”

After the COVID-19 crisis is over “many communities will still be gripped by unrest that continues to lead to violence,” McCarthy wrote. “Without respect for public safety, all the pro-growth policies in the world won’t put America back on her feet. We must ensure the security and safety of all communities. That means improving our police forces, not defunding them. We will increase funding for law enforcement by $1.75 billion for better police training, community policing, and equipment, including 500,000 more body cameras on the streets.”

“To renew the American Dream, we will ensure every child in every neighborhood can go to the school that is best for them, while directing millions towards high-quality STEM education to prepare our kids for the jobs of tomorrow,” McCarthy said in support of expanding school choice. “At the same time, we will promote opportunities for career and technical education and workforce development for any American looking to earn a promotion or pursue a meaningful new career, especially our nation’s veterans.”

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Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces a challenge this year from Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors.

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Congress

Sen. Doug Jones: “I voted no because the American people deserve better”

“If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it,” Jones said. “That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”

Josh Moon

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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

Calling it a “political ploy” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones joined his Democratic Party colleagues on Thursday in voting against a slimmed down COVID-relief bill that did little to address average workers’ problems with the pandemic. 

“Mitch McConnell doesn’t care about the American people, he doesn’t understand the American worker,” Jones said. “This was a stunt. He wants partisan agreement, not a bipartisan bill to help people who are hurting.”

Jones said that McConnell also introduced a scaled-down bill during the previous round of COVID-relief negotiations, which Democrats also defeated. After that defeat, McConnell worked with Democrats and a bipartisan bill passed the Senate with overwhelming support from both parties.

“Alabama would have lost about $2 billion had I voted for the scaled down version last time,” Jones said. “That wasn’t a good bill for the people and this one wasn’t either.”

Jones also pushed back on the notion that Democrats had “blocked” a COVID-19 relief bill, pointing out that House Democrats had passed an expansive relief bill before the summer break in July. 

“There’s no reason we couldn’t have used that bill, which wasn’t a perfect bill, as a starting point,” Jones said. “Everyone knew this virus was going to be around through the summer, through the fall. We knew it. I asked for us not to leave, to get this done (before the break). We didn’t. And now we come back and McConnell has this bill that’s less than half of what he proposed before the break, because that’s all he can get his people to agree on. It’s not good enough.”

McConnell’s slimmed down relief bill didn’t include rent protection to prevent those who are out of work because of the virus from being evicted (and to provide aid to landlords). It also didn’t include stimulus payments to Americans out of work or any relief to state or local governments, which are starting to lay off workers. It also trimmed by two-thirds the extended unemployment benefits for Americans out of work, taking the federal payments from $600 to $200. 

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Jones pointed out that the bill did include, oddly, a $5 billion gift to parents who send their kids to private schools. That money, he said, was included to win Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s vote. 

“We have too many people hurting right now to play these games,” Jones said. “Too many good people are out of work and need our help. We owe it to them to do better. If we let this pass, there would never be another opportunity to do more, to get help to the people who need it. That’s why I voted no. I voted no because the American workers deserve better.”

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Congress

ALGOP hits Jones for vote against “slimmed-down” COVID-19 relief bill

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones

Senate Democrats held up a $300 billion Republican coronavirus stimulus package, and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones was among the Democrats who voted against the GOP’s slimmed down coronavirus relief bill. Republicans were quick to slam Jones for the vote against another round of coronavirus aid.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan condemned Jones’s vote against the aid, saying he is failing Alabama.

“Once again, Senator Jones has shown just how tone-deaf he is to the needs of Alabamians,” Lathan said. “This COVID Relief legislation would have provided much needed support for our school systems that are trying to open safely for our students. It would have also provided the resources needed to continue to develop and distribute a vaccine as well as improve testing. While President Trump is leading on his ‘Warp Speed’ vaccine solutions, Doug Jones is failing Alabama — again.”

Former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. — a member of the Trump Victory National Finance Committee, a Trump Team Leader and a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee — also criticized Jones for his vote against the bill.

“Doug Jones has proved once again that he cares more about trying to do political damage to our president and pleasing his liberal out-of-state donors than he does Alabama, the state that he was elected to serve,” Hooper said. “This vote is a stark reminder of how badly Alabama needs to elect Tommy Tuberville and send Doug Jones packing.”

Paige Lindgren, the deputy press secretary of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also hit Jones for the vote.

“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones voted no today on the latest COVID relief bill,” Lindgren said. “The Senate bill would provide targeted relief to states to reopen schools safely, develop and distribute a vaccine and improve testing and contract tracing efforts. Democrat leadership vowed to vote against the bill before it was even released, favoring their $3.5 trillion liberal wish list over any of the Republican-led efforts — and Jones joined them.”

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“On Tuesday, Senator Jones claimed not to know what was in the bill,” Lathan said. “On Wednesday, he said he had ‘mixed emotions’ about it. Now, on Thursday, he said it was ‘inadequate’. He’s all over the place. Instead of supporting Alabamians, he lined up behind his liberal buddies Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders to support the $3.5 trillion ‘wish list’ passed by House Democrats back in May — a list to bail out bankrupt cities that have nothing to do with the pandemic. He wants Alabama to bail out incompetently run liberal cities with our taxes. That’s a hard pass!”

“He voted in lock step with Chuck Schumer and his liberal comrades against a targeted Republican bill that would have provided badly needed aid to everyday Alabama families,” Hooper said.

“Once again, we are seeing anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones side with his Democrat party bosses in blocking COVID relief despite touting bipartisanship on the campaign trail,” said Lindgren. “This is just another example in which Jones chooses loyalty to Chuck Schumer and partisan politics over the needs of Alabama.”

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“It’s time for Alabama to have a Senator who listens to the majority — Tommy Tuberville will be elected as our next U.S. senator this November 3rd and will follow the majority of our people’s directions,” Lathan said.

Democrats argued that the $300 billion GOP bill is far too small. The Democratic controlled House of Representatives passed the $4.3 billion Heroes Act. Senate Republicans opposed that bill, arguing that it would add substantially to the national debt. Because of the 60 vote rule to end a filibuster it takes a bipartisan supermajority to bring up a bill in the Senate for a vote. The slimmed down coronavirus aid bill managed just 52 votes. 8 shy of the number needed to shut down debate and bring the bill up for a vote.

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U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks to host “Academy Day” in late September

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, announced that representatives of the five U.S. service academies will join him on Sept. 27 for an informational session for high school students interested in attending.

“I need your help getting the word out! Sunday, September 27th, I’ll be joining representatives from the five U.S. service academies in hosting the 2020 Academy Day for all high school students interested in a service academy appointment,” Brooks said. “Representatives from West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and the Merchant Marine Academy will be available to answer questions and share information about their institutions.”

The event is open to all high school students in Brooks’ district who are interested in possibly seeking an appointment to one of the service academies.

“Thank you for your interest in the nation’s military service academies,” Brooks wrote to high school students who might be interested. “As the Tennessee Valley’s congressman, each year I have the privilege of nominating a limited number of candidates to four of the five service academies. Your decision to compete for an appointment to one of these institutions speaks to your high moral character and your selfless desire to serve your country. The honor of attending a service academy comes with an obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation.”

The event will be on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Graham Pavilion in the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. To RSVP, contact Brooks’ Service Academy Liaison Sandy Garvey in his Huntsville district office at 256-551-0190 or [email protected]

The president of the United States officially makes all appointments to the United States service academies. However, each member of Congress is allotted a limited number of nominations, which they may submit for consideration of an appointment (by the academy) to fill the vacancies at each academy.

Because of the limited number of nominations, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply to all three of their congressional sponsors (Brooks, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones).

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“Because making academy nominations is one of the most important responsibilities I have as your representative in the U.S. Congress, I have assembled a Service Academy Nomination Advisory Board tasked with reviewing all completed nomination packets and interviewing each candidate,” Brooks said. “The board will review each application carefully and take many factors into consideration as they provide recommendations to me on the nominations. This well-qualified, non-partisan board will ensure a fair and impartial process and is comprised of service academy graduates, retired military and community leaders from Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.”

To apply candidates need to submit a nomination application packet that documents their academic, civic and athletic abilities, as well as their commitment to military service. The completed nomination application packet must be received in Brooks’ Huntsville district office no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

Candidates must be at least 17 years old, but not yet 23 years of age to the Military, Naval or Air Force academies and not yet 25 years of age for the Merchant Marine Academy. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and reside within the boundaries of the 5th Congressional District of Alabama.

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Candidates must be unmarried, not pregnant and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents. Candidates must meet the medical, physical and academic requirements of the Academy, in addition to possessing good moral character.

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