Category: Congress

The Partisan Divide Isn’t That Wide Between Alabama’s Two US Senators, Though It Still Is a Canyon Among House Members

Although they differ on many high-profile issues, Alabama’s two U.S. senators voted together about half the time on key issues during 2019.

Republican Richard Shelby, who has served in the Senate for 31 years, and freshman Democrat Doug Jones have voted together 11 times and on opposite sides on 10 occasions this year, according to weekly reports compiled by Voterama in Congress for BirminghamWatch.

The two have parted ways, however, over many of President Trump’s nominations for federal judgeships, cabinet posts and other positions, according to weekly reports by Voterama. Jones voted to confirm five of the president’s nominees and against nine. Shelby voted for all 14. Read more.

Jones Calls Impeachment Protest a ‘Political Stunt’

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones called a protest by Republican congressmen, including three House members from Alabama, a “political stunt” reminiscent of George Wallace’s 1963 stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama.

“I thought it was (a) petty little temper tantrum. That’s all you can say,” Jones said Thursday during a phone news conference with reporters from Alabama. “I thought Alabama had moved beyond that after the stand in the schoolhouse door.”

Alabama Republican Reps. Mo Brooks of Huntsville, Bradley Byrne of Fairhope and Gary Palmer of Hoover were among about 30 GOP members of the House of Representatives who on Wednesday pushed into a room where the House Intelligence Committee held impeachment hearings. That delayed testimony by a Pentagon official for about five hours, the Washington Post reported. Read more.

Trump Inquiry Dominates Congressional Conversation

WASHINGTON — All of Alabama’s U.S. House of Representatives members voted to call for the release of a whistleblower complaint alleging misconduct by President Trump centered on his interactions this year with the Ukrainian government.

That action (H Res 576) passed, but by that time, the administration already had sent Congress the complaint, which it had refused to release for more than a month. The Senate adopted an identical resolution on a non-record vote.

However, the vote split along party lines on a measure (H Res 590) to force floor debate on a Republican resolution disapproving of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to start a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump. The measure was quashed on a technicality, and the House voted 232-193 to uphold that ruling, meaning the measure could not be debated

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-7, was the only Alabama representative who voted not to debate H Res 590. Supporting the resolution were Republican Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, and Gary Palmer, R-6. Read more.

Senators Approve Two-Year Budget Deal That Will Suspend the National Debt Limit

WASHINGTON – The Senate in two votes last week approved a two-year budget deal that will suspend the national debt limit and possibly raise interest payments to more than $400 million a year.

One of those votes was to pass the budget; the other was to kill an amendment to prohibit increasing the national debt.

Both of Alabama’s senators — Richard Shelby, R, and Doug Jones, D — voted for the budget and against the amendment. Read more.

Bill to Set Standards for Humane Treatment of Migrants Passes U.S. House With Support From Alabama’s Democrat, Opposition From Republicans; Votes on Other Bills Last Week

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House last week passed a bill to set minimal standards for the government’s treatment of migrants in its custody.

Representatives voted 233 for to 195 against the bill, which now is on its way to the Senate. Alabama’s Republicans voted against the bill and Democratic Rep. Terry Sewell voted for it.

The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct medical screenings of migrants within 12 hours of their detention, or three hours for children, the disabled and pregnant women, and provide health care as warranted. Read more.

Doug Jones Says Trump’s ‘Racist Language’ Divides the Nation

President Donald Trump used “racist language” that is further dividing Americans when he suggested four women in Congress could leave the country if they don’t like it, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday.

 “To use racist language, and it was that — I’m not calling the president a racist, but he used racist language to do this — this is the same kind of dog whistle politics that we have seen before,” Jones said during a conference phone call with reporters.

“But folks, we have to resist the pull of the forces that are trying to divide us,” Jones said. “We need to come together as one America and work together to live up to the lofty ideals our country was founded on. Attacking the patriotism of other Americans using hateful rhetoric and dog whistle messages doesn’t get us any closer to achieving those unifying principles.”
Read more.

Jones and Byrne Have Stacked Up Millions to Lead Fundraising in the US Senate Race.

Incumbent Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Bradley Byrne already have millions of dollars in their campaign accounts as the field begins to form for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

In reports filed this month with the Federal Election Commission, Jones listed a cash balance of $3.09 million at the end of the first quarter of this year. Byrne, the congressman from Mobile who is giving up his House seat to run for the Senate, reported a balance of $2.04 million.

Candidates are required to file quarterly financial reports with the FEC once they raise $5,000 in contributions. Byrne and Jones are the first to file in the Senate Race. Others have filed in the race for each of Alabama’s seven U.S. House districts. Read more.

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending March 1

Bills to expand the list of people who must request federal background checks on individuals before selling guns to them split Alabama’s congressional delegation along the usual party lines last week.

Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham voted for that bill while the Republicans voted against it. Alabama’s representatives also split along party lines on other gun-related bills. Read more.

Jones Has Introduced a Bill He Said Would Incentivize States to Expand Medicaid

Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, is sponsoring a bill that would incentivize states such as Alabama to expand Medicaid.

The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion Act would provide states that choose to expand Medicaid after 2014 the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier under the terms of the Affordable Care Act.

In an interview with Alabama Daily News, Jones said he hopes this bill will incentivize states such as Alabama that haven’t expanded Medicaid to do so soon.

“Even though I can’t vote to expand Medicaid, I can do things that I hope will give the states the incentive to expand Medicaid because I truly believe it’s in the state’s interest and the people of the state’s interest,” Jones said. Read more.