Category: Congress

Sewell, Alabama’s Lone Congressional Democrat, Seeks to Strengthen Voting Rights, Defeat Party Infighting

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, the lone Democrat in Alabama’s seven-member congressional delegation, is seeking to grow the party with a two-pronged approach — countering Republican-backed voting restrictions while raising money to protect Democratic incumbents against challenges from the left.

First elected in 2011, Sewell has for four successive congresses introduced legislation to restore much of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation that mandated federal oversight of election laws in areas with a history of racial discrimination. That historic legislation was largely struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The court’s ruling that the law’s requirements were outdated  led to state legislatures issuing a ream of voting restrictions in the wake of that decision.

This year, Sewell again introduced the bill, House Resolution 4, newly named the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in honor of the Alabama-born Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who died last year.
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‘Earmarks’ Are Back, but Not All Alabama Lawmakers Are Participating

It has a new name and many new requirements, but the process known as earmarking, or designating federal funds for distribution at the request of members of Congress, is now officially back on Capitol Hill.

This spring, the House Appropriations Committee invited all House members to submit proposals for “Community Project Funding,” a new term for the age-old practice of earmarking that has been banned by rule for the past ten years. In a new effort at ensuring transparency, those proposed projects have been published member by member.

Alabama’s House delegation was split on the prospect of placing community projects in the budget. Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Mike Rogers, R-Saks, Jerry Carl, R-Mobile and Terri Sewell, D-Selma each submitted multiple projects for consideration, while Reps. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, Gary Palmer, R-Birmingham, and Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, did not. Read more.

Alabama GOP Reps Vote Against Jan. 6 Commission

Alabama’s House congressional delegation split along party lines on the vote to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, with at least one Republican agreeing with the complaint that the panel wouldn’t consider political violence from the left.

The six Alabama Republicans were among the 175 lawmakers who voted against the creation of the commission. All Democrats, including Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham, voted for the bill.

“I cannot vote in favor of a partisan commission that will not look at all political violence against Members of Congress and Capitol Police,” Rep. Mike Rogers , R-Saks, said in a statement.
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Alabama Delegation Experiences Life in the Minority, with Some New Committee Assignments

Alabama’s freshman lawmakers in Washington are stepping into committee roles — and, in one case, into a brand new committee — as most of the state’s veteran lawmakers continue life in the minority party or experience it for the first time in years.

On the Senate side, Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby has moved from chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee to vice chairman, with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont assuming the chair.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Alabama’s new senator, who has moved into office with a high and controversial profile, has secured spots on the Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and Veteran’s Affairs committees.

Among Alabama’s seven House members and two senators, only Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham is in the majority party,
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Alabama Congress Members Caught Off Guard by Violence at the Capitol

At a Wednesday morning rally near the White House, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, told the pro-Trump crowd that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Brooks is the leader of a group of representatives challenging the Electoral College votes of three states President-elect Joe Biden won in the November election.

A few hours later, he was among hundreds of legislators hunkering down and then fleeing as Trump supporters broke through police lines and stormed into the Capitol building, leading to a lockdown that stalled certification of November’s vote. One woman was shot in the chest and died, and several law enforcement officers were injured in the melee, the District of Columbia mayor said in a press conference.

“DOORS LOCKED! CAPITOL COMPLEX BREACHED! CHAMBER DOORS LOCKED. SPEAKER LEAVES!” Brooks first tweeted while detailing his experience in the Capitol.

He later tweeted that the police evacuation of the House of Representatives was “hurried but otherwise orderly” and said he “heard loud shouting echoing down Capitol halls during evacuation.” Read more.

Senate Passes $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill

The Senate late Thursday night voted 96-0 to pass at $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Both of Alabama’s senators voted for the bill. Members of the House of Representatives have been called back to Washington to take up the bill Friday morning.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, said the bill wasn’t perfect, but it did include a lot of good things for the state. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, said the bill would help state and local governments that are in desperate need while grappling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Jones Calls for Changes in the Impeachment Process

U.S. Senator Doug Jones today said that, in the aftermath of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, he’d like to see procedural changes that would streamline the process in the future.

“We’re done, we’re through, we’re moving on. We’re already talking to colleagues about new legislation that we’ll be introducing, one of which may deal with this impeachment,” he said. “I’d like to see some new processes and new rules in place. There’s a lot of talk. There may be some things seen in the next couple or three weeks about that.”

Jones made the remarks after speaking to a full house of Cumberland School of Law students and faculty at Samford University in a talk designed to give the future lawyers from his alma mater insight into how he thought through the process and reached what he said was not a political decision on his part.
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Jones Says His Vote to Convict Trump Was Not Partisan

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones today said that after considering the evidence through the lens of a prosecutor, he had no choice but to convict President Donald Trump of the impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, Jones said, it came down to a president putting his personal interests above the interests of the nation.

Jones made the remarks to Cumberland School of Law students and faculty at Samford University in a talk designed to give the future lawyers from his alma mater insight into how he thought through the process and reached what he said was not political decision on his part.
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Jones Gives House of Representatives Shade About “Partisan Bickering” Over Impeachment

Sen. Doug Jones has had a busy week in the United State Senate, and members of his chamber traditionally tend to be subdued in any remarks they make publicly about “the other body,” the House of Representatives. But the Alabama Democrat couldn’t resist getting in a little dig at the House, where an investigation into articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump has been dominating headlines and time on cable news channels.

“I really wish that, rather than tuning in to partisan bickering over in the House of Representatives, that the people had been watching the Senate floor this week and last week to see what all we have done in a bipartisan way, and the accomplishments we have done in spite of everything going on,” Jones said at the beginning of a teleconference with Alabama reporters Thursday.
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