FAIRHOPE – A Republican candidate in the race to replace U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said he would support local efforts to build a new Mobile River bridge and Bayway, but that funding should be at the state and local level, not federal.
U.S. Rep Mo Brooks of Huntsville addressed the Eastern Shore Republican Women’s Club on Thursday, June 9. Brooks is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Shelby in 2022.
In a question after his speech, County Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood, a member of the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization, asked if Brooks would support efforts to build the Interstate 10 bridge. She said that at the June 9 MPO meeting, many audience members and officials said federal support is needed for the route that is part of a highway extending from Jacksonville, Fla. to Los Angeles.
Brooks said that he would help project supporters, but funding decisions should not be made in Washington.
“I believe in the 10th amendment,” Brooks said. “That means I believe that we ought to shift as much government away from Washington to states and to cities and counties as possible because I believe your best, most responsive government is cities and counties where citizens can get ahold of their people, then state and the worst place is the federal government. So what we have done in Washington is we have sent all of our highway dollars to the states to distribute as they deem best with the exception that we have a certain percentage that has to go to interstates, a certain percentage has to go to U.S. highways, a certain percentage has to be allocated for state roads and so forth.”
He said local officials are in the best position to decide how to use funds.
“It’s Montgomery that decides where that money is spent, so to a large degree, I like the idea of Montgomery, our state government, determining where the best priorities are for the monies that are coming from the federal government,” Brooks said. “They have a highway department that can do all this research and do all these calculations. That’s a better way to go.”
Brooks also said he opposed earmarking federal funds for specific projects. He said the practice is often used to entice members of Congress to vote for bad bills in exchange for funding for projects in their areas.
“Earmarks corrupt the public policy debate,” Brooks said. “We have enough corruption in public policy debate in Washington as it is right now.”
Brooks said he has supported projects in Congress and would continue to do so but would not earmark money for specific projects.
“I’ve been pretty doggone good at marketing the Tennessee Valley as their congressman,” Brooks said. “We’re exploding with economic prosperity, and I understand that can be the role of a congressman and a United States senator to help extoll the good things about a state and a community to get good-paying jobs to come and I understand that role and I’ll fulfill that role. But I’m not going to sell out the United States of America for any part of the state of Alabama if in the long haul it means that Alabama’s going to do worse because of the damage that’s done by that sellout.”
Two other candidates are also running for the Republican nomination for Shelby’s Senate seat – Lynda Blanchard, former U.S. ambassador to Slovenia, and Katie Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff to Shelby.