Tag: Doug Jones

Jones Introduces Bill Requiring Reports on Money Forfeited When States Bypassed Medicaid Expansion

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, has introduced a bill that would require a federal agency to show how much states such as Alabama have left on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid.

The Smart Choices Act would mandate that the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, or MACPAC, annually publish reports showing how much states receive under expanded Medicaid. In particular, the reports would show how much the states that refused expansion under the Affordable Care Act would have gotten if they had joined the program. Read more.

Sen. Doug Jones Calls for Compromise to Lessen Gun Violence, Points to Youth Protests as the Tipping Point in the Debate

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones delivered his first speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, calling for a pragmatic conversation and compromise on the hot button issues surrounding gun control.

“We must acknowledge the deadly consequences that can follow when a gun is in the wrong hands, but also recognize and respect the freedom to own and enjoy guns by law-abiding citizens as guarantees by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive,” said Jones, who won a special election against Roy Moore in December to become the first Democratic U.S. senator from Alabama in more than 20 years.

Jones pointed to the youth-led outcry for an end to gun violence in schools, sparked by last month’s deadly shooting at a Parkland, Florida, school, as the catalyst that could move conversations forward. He compared the current movement to the Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963 — a protest that became a turning point in the fight for desegregation in Birmingham.

In his speech, the senator called for a ban on manufacturing or possessing bump stocks, which are devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly. He also called for passing legislation to close loopholes in the federal background check system currently in place, widen requirements for background checks and waiting periods to purchase guns, and raise the minimum age requirement for purchasing semi-automatic weapons. Read more.

Alabama has a swath of elections coming up this year, and there will be a much stronger Democratic presence on the ballot than there has been in recent statewide elections. Do you think Alabama’s moving toward being a two-party state? Are Democrats a viable party statewide?

Jones: I think you’re looking at the viability of Democrats. The viability of Democrats is not dependent on a candidate. It’s dependent on the issues and how they present those issues to the people. I’ve always believed Democrats can be viable. I’ve always believed Republicans, even when Democrats dominated the state, could have been viable with the right message. We flipped (dominant parties) too quick, and we never became a two-party state.
Read more.

You just touched on some issues — immigration and guns — that are very hot-button issues for Alabama voters. For those issues, it seems that you have to balance between the more liberal parts of your voter base and the conservative majority of the state.

They’re voters, for sure. But I’ve told people in my campaign, “Don’t expect me to pass a litmus test for one side or the other.” I continue to get asked, “Are you liberal, conservative, moderate, progressive, what?” And I say, “Don’t label me! I’m Doug, and I’m going to vote the way I feel. I’m certainly not going to pass the far left’s litmus test any more than I’m going to pass the far right’s litmus tests. Read more.

The Common Sense Coalition is sort of an anomaly. It’s a bipartisan, centrist group of senators operating in the middle of a highly polarized political climate. How viable of a political philosophy is centrism in a divided 2018?

Jones: I think if you see what’s happened in the last six weeks, since I took office … . You’re always going to have divisions, but let’s just look at the budget, for instance. Yeah, the government shut down for three days. But at the end of the day, you saw a bipartisan budget resolution that’s now going to be put in an omnibus bill that’s going to fund the government for the next two years — this year and next year. That is unheard of in the modern era, in the last few years. Read more.

How is your relationship with the president? You met with him and Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, at the White House last month.

Jones: He was very nice. He called me after the election. His daughter called me after the election. After we voted to reopen the government, he called me and Senator Manchin to come over and we had a wonderful chat. I was probably in the Oval Office for about 45 minutes, just talking. It wasn’t a negotiation or anything like that. It was just a talk. “This is where I think we need to go, this is what I think I need to do.” Read more.

Staking Out Common Ground: A Q&A With Sen. Doug Jones

It’s been almost two months since Doug Jones took office as Alabama’s first Democratic U.S. senator in more than 20 years, and the international spotlight that accompanied his surprising win has faded somewhat.

Jones’ December upset against far-right candidate Roy Moore, who had been the favorite to win before allegations of sexual misconduct derailed his campaign, was seen by many as a bellwether of America’s political future, both in 2018 and in 2020.

“If a Democrat can win in Alabama,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza said after Jones’ victory, “a Democrat can win just about anywhere in the country.”

Now, the novelty of his victory has worn off, and with it Jones has shifted from a political symbol to a centrist lawmaker. As he promised during his campaign, he doesn’t follow the party line. Instead, he’s aligned himself with a bipartisan group of moderate senators, the Common Sense Coalition, which some commentators have credited with ending last month’s government shutdown. A less successful effort by the coalition, on which Jones worked, was a bipartisan immigration bill that failed earlier this month.

But Jones remains optimistic that “common ground” — a favorite phrase of his — can be found on that issue and others. He believes agreements can be made even on hot-button issues such as gun laws, in the wake of Feb. 14’s Parkland, Florida, shooting.

“If we continue to have dialogues, not monologues, and continue to find common ground,” he said at a rally on Sunday, “we can help empower the kids of Parkland, Florida, to lead the next tipping point.”

Jones, who has been visiting Alabama during the congressional break, spoke with BirminghamWatch about his first weeks as a senator, the viability of centrism in a polarized political landscape, and Alabama’s possible future as a two-party state.

BirminghamWatch: Because your election received so much nationwide attention, when you entered the Senate last month, you were already one of its most famous members. How has that dynamic played out? How have you been received by your fellow senators?

Doug Jones: I’ve been received very well. It’s been very nice. Everybody has been very cordial, very helpful, on both sides of the aisle. … Obviously people in the media, they see me as kind of like the unicorn up there, the Democrat from Alabama. (We) do exist! But it’s been great. We tried to (be) low-key and not do too much. I think we played it really good, to try to get my feet wet, let me find my voice, get to know some people. But my Democratic and Republican colleagues have just been great. That’s why I enjoyed working on this bipartisan bill (with the) Common Sense Coalition. I got to know some folks, and it’s been very, very good. Read more.

Almost $50 Million Spent in Alabama’s U.S. Special Senate Election

Candidates and independent committees raised more than $49 million last year for Alabama’s U.S. Senate special election, won by Democrat Doug Jones.

Financial reports posted this week by the Federal Election Commission show Jones with $22.05 million in contributions to his campaign during 2017, compared to $6.15 million for Republican Roy Moore. Those reports include money raised by Jones for the Democratic primary in August and the general election on Dec. 5, and by Moore for the Republican primary, GOP runoff and general election.

In addition, independent committees, known as Super PACs, reported spending $2.37 million in support of Jones and $1.24 million in opposition to him. Super PACs spent $158,464 in support of Moore and $5.19 million in efforts to defeat him. Read more.