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.
Jones, who defeated Roy Moore in a bitter special election campaign in December 2017, is seeking election next year to a full term in the Senate. Byrne is one of several Republicans campaigning for the GOP nomination to run against him.
The Republicans said they were protesting impeachment proceedings being held behind closed doors. Jones said such hearings have been conducted in private by members of both parties over the years.
“Everybody knows there are procedures in place where this will become public,” he said.
Jones also expressed dismay over President Trump’s statement that the impeachment process was a lynching.
Asked what he thought about the comment, Jones said the word lynch “has deep-seated meanings.” He added, “I think that was politics at its worst, and he should know better.”
Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act
The main thrust of the news conference was to tout the Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which Jones and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, are sponsoring.
The bill is aimed at providing training for workers who lose their jobs because of automation or because of companies moving their operations overseas.
Alabama has been named among the top 10 states where workers are at risk of losing their jobs because of automation, Jones said. He said Coosa, Conecuh, Greene and Pickens counties are ranked among the most vulnerable nationwide.
“This is a really big deal for Alabama,” said Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
He cited a program at Gadsden State Community College as the kind of effort that is needed to carry out partnerships to provide workers with “the resources and education necessary to be prepared for jobs of the future.”