Congressman Bradley Byrne is still mulling a possible challenge to Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in 2020, but said he’s currently more focused now on continuing to address the needs for residents of this congressional district.
“We’ve done a lot of exploring on this possible senate race, but I don’t think we’ve done enough of that yet,” Byrne said. “We’ve got a number of people we need to talk to still about that. I don’t feel any time push about it, and my primary focus still remains representing this district in the House.”
Byrne said a decision on the possible senate run against Jones could come in the first half of 2019.
In terms of accomplishments during this current legislative session, Byrne said he’s especially proud of the increased Defense spending passed.
“I’m most proud of everything we were able to accomplish for the Navy, but especially the ships we make in Mobile,” Byrne said. “I think we’ve made real strides for the Navy in the last two funding bills. When you think about the impact the Navy has in this area, it’s been huge for our economy and we’re glad to see that continue as a priority.”
Byrne said he was also proud of the bipartisan package of bill passed to address the opioid crisis across the country.
“It’s a much better allocation of resources to deal with it,” Byrne said. “We authorized a lot of federal agencies to step in where they aren’t stepping in right now. We understand this is primarily going to be addressed on the local level, so we’re not saying the federal government is the solution here but the federal government can provide a lot better support than we have thus far.”
Byrne said the work done this year on moving the I-10 Bridge project forward has also been a highlight.
“Right now, because the size of the project has grown, the concessionaire groups that are bidding for it need more time because of the immensity and complexity of it,” Byrne said. “We lost about six months with that, but it’s six months worth losing to get it right. I’m told they’ll be under construction by Jan. 2020. There’s a lot of federal stuff that has to happen there, but I’m confident about that being done on time.”
With regards to red snapper season, Byrne said getting federal officials to come to the Alabama Gulf and see exactly what’s going on has been a majority priority - one that he feels will continue to pay dividends for allowing the state to manage its own waters and seasons.
“We’ve taken these officials out here with actual marine scientists to show them the process and the science of how we do this was invaluable,” Byrne said. “They got to see for themselves what’s going on here, and that’s a huge step forward for us in finding an ally to create a proper solution.”
When it comes to predictions for the Nov. 6 election, Byrne said he feels momentum may be swinging in the direction of the GOP.
“I would the say that the worm has turned and we are picking up momentum here in the end, which is when you want to pick it up,” Byrne said. “How that’s going to shake out in individual races is hard to say. The big problem we’re faced with now is that we’ve got an enormous amount of money coming into Democratic candidates. Obviously, none of it is being spent in Alabama, but it’s being funneled into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Florida - where we’re seeing massive amounts of money coming in against our folks.”
Byrne said when all was said and done, he felt confident the Republicans would maintain a slight majority in the House.
He said one of his major priorities for the next session would be working on a solution to border security.
Byrne recently introduced legislation for the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, which would use the budget reconciliation process to overcome a threatened filibuster by Senate Democrats. Budget reconciliation allows bills to pass out of the Senate with only 50 votes, while almost all other Senate bills require 60 votes. Budget reconciliation was the same process used to pass tax reform last year.
The bill would also fully fund the border wall, eliminating the possibility that Democrats could bottle up funding in future appropriations bills, and direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to finalize construction before the beginning of President Trump’s second term.
“Border security is national security, and we cannot allow Democrats to continue to block our efforts to build a wall along our southern border,” Byrne said. “That is why I am introducing the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, which creates a process to overcome the Democrat obstruction and move forward with plans to construct President Donald Trump’s border wall. Sixty-three million Americans voted for President Trump with the promise of building a wall because they want us to finally secure our borders. With the 50 Votes for the Wall Act, we can make the wall a reality and ensure the safety of the American people.”