U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, and David Trone, D-Maryland, led 82 of their colleagues in sending a letter Tuesday to leaders of the House and Senate urging them to include in any future COVID-19 relief package at least $86 billion for the deployment of high-speed broadband internet.
Sewell and Trone sent the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“The coronavirus has only further highlighted the importance of high-speed, affordable internet, as lack of access has made it more difficult for Alabamians to learn from home, access telehealth service and telework during the pandemic,” Sewell said. “It is beyond time that high-speed internet is treated as a basic utility and rolled out to every community across the country. The letter provides the framework for a future relief package that acknowledges just how critical broadband access is and calls on leadership to make a significant investment in its implementation.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that swaths of this country are being left behind by insufficient broadband infrastructure,” Trone said. “It’s time to invest in digital highways to bring the entire country into the 21st century and global economy. I want to thank Congresswoman Sewell and Whip Clyburn for joining in the effort to ensure this critical infrastructure is included in the next Congressional stimulus package.”
According to Microsoft, about 25 million Americans lack access to reliable, high-speed internet and about 3.3 million Alabama residents do not have the minimum broadband speeds needed for video conferencing or streaming at home. The divide disproportionately impacts rural residents — with 19 million of the 25 million Americans without broadband living in rural areas.
“Future stimulus packages should support the deployment of secure and resilient broadband, provide hotspots for students to close the homework gap and allow for distance learning, and expand access and affordability for unserved and underserved communities with sufficient speed and data that reflects American families’ increased reliance on internet access,” they wrote in their letter. “We cannot wait to invest in high-speed broadband deployment necessary to reach every unserved and underserved American family, hospital, school and small business. … If we fail to invest now, millions of American will be disconnected from the economic recovery on the other side of this crisis.”
Racial disparities also exist between which Americans have access to broadband and which do not. According to a 2017 Joint Economic Committee report, 82 percent of white households have access to high speed internet while just 70 percent of Black households do. Seventy-four percent of Hispanic households do and just 65 percent of Native American households do.
“We believe that in the response to the COVID-19 crisis an overall investment of $86 billion is needed,” the letter continued. “This would expedite high-speed broadband deployment and expand funding to ensure that Americans who need broadband service can remain connected during this public health crisis and recovery. This includes expanded service for low-income consumers that meet the demands of telework, telehealth and telelearning. For instance, two tools ready to address these issues are the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) existing Lifeline and E-Rate educational connectivity programs.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly clear that having access to high speed broadband is a necessity,” the letter said. “We must invest in expanding affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in the next emergency relief package. We thank you for your attention to this critical issue and looking forward to working in tandem to bring broadband to communities that are in desperate need of this essential tool for life in the 21st Century.”
There is wide bipartisan support for increasing broadband access.
“COVID19 highlights the need for more broadband access in America,” Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, said. “According to the Federal Communications Commission, 31 percent of rural Americans do not have broadband access at home. During the pandemic, school children without broadband access have been unable to attend classes digitally or complete online homework assignments. Adults have been similarly hamstrung in an increasingly digital economy.”
Sewell is in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Tuberville appoints Stan McDonald to chair his transition team
Stan McDonald is a Huntsville attorney and will be chair of Tuberville’s transition team.
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.”
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.