Bradley Byrne

Bradley Byrne

ALABAMA's 1st DISTRICT

New VA Clinic is Long Overdue

2016/08/21

I had long heard the complaints about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Mobile. Whether it was at town hall meetings, Memorial Day events, or while shopping at the grocery store, veterans always shared their concerns about the Mobile VA outpatient clinic.

The Mobile VA clinic is critically important. Southwest Alabama is home to over 50,000 veterans, and our area takes great pride and patriotism in supporting our veterans. It has always been a shame the VA clinic did not live up to the same high standard.

Our area has seen growth over the last few years, and this has only made the problems worse. See, the clinic doesn’t just serve veterans from Mobile. Our out-patient clinic is used by veterans from the surrounding counties.

Soon after being elected to Congress, I paid a visit to the clinic myself and quickly realized the facility was outdated and far too small. The facility lacked many of the basic resources that you would expect from a modern-day VA clinic.

I started to ask questions about the status of a new VA clinic in Mobile. It turned out that my predecessor, Congressman Jo Bonner, was able to secure funding for a new VA clinic before he left Congress, but the project had stalled out. Bureaucratic delays and red tape stood in the way.

This just simply wasn’t acceptable. Our veterans deserved better.

I held a meeting in Washington and Biloxi with relevant VA officials. Then, I sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald demanding an update on a new Mobile VA clinic. My staff and I kept the foot on the gas and continued demanding updates and answers from the VA.

Finally, the perseverance of my team and other local officials paid off. A few weeks ago, my office was notified Mobile would finally be getting a new VA clinic.

The new clinic will be located in a convenient location in Tillman’s Corner, right off of I-10. The clinic will be over 65,000 square feet, which is a major improvement over the current facility’s 35,000 square feet.

The new clinic will provide space for primary care, audiology and speech pathology, education, eye clinics, mental health, patient advocacy, radiology, Veterans’ Service Organizations, and women’s health. The new, updated clinic will certainly provide better care to our veterans.

While the new clinic is music to the ears of our local veterans, I also understand that a new clinic alone will not solve all the problems at the VA. The VA has much larger and deeper issues that a new clinic simply cannot solve.

The VA bureaucracy is too big and fosters a culture of complacency. Too many VA officials are allowed to continue underperforming because of the lack of accountability.

This is why I will continue to be a forceful advocate in Congress for increasing veteran access to private medical care. I believe every veteran should be able to seek medical care from doctors and hospitals in their local communities instead of having to receive care from VA facilities.

I will also keep pushing to improve accountability at the VA. If an employee is failing our veterans, they should be removed from their position, not promoted to a different role.

I am proud to represent the 50,000 veterans who call Southwest Alabama home. I am proud of the progress we have made on their behalf but more challenges remain. No matter how difficult this fight may be, I will not back down. Our veterans did not back down from serving us, and I won’t back down from fighting for them.

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Back to School

2016/08/14

Anxious. Excited. Nervous. Intrigued. Those are just a few of the emotions students feel as they head back to school.

As a parent, we share many of those same emotions. Excitement for our child and their ability to grow and learn. Nervousness about the challenges each school year brings.

These feelings aren’t restricted to just parents and students. Teachers and administrators go through similar emotions as they prepare for a new school year.

I recently sat down with our local superintendents to share ideas and talk about ways to improve education in our area and around the country. So, as the new school year kicks off, I want to highlight some of my top priorities when it comes to education.

In Congress, I am honored to serve on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. This committee has jurisdiction over both higher and K-12 education. As a former member of the Alabama State School Board and former chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college system, the Committee has been a natural fit for me.

Throughout my time on the committee, I have made it my top priority to limit federal involvement in education. Faceless bureaucrats sitting behind a desk in Washington, D.C. should not be deciding what is best for our students in Alabama. We must restore local control over education.

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the new law represents the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”

As the law is implemented, my colleagues and I are pushing the Obama Administration to follow the intent of the bipartisan law and get the federal government of out the way. Parents, teachers, and administrators at the local level – not federal bureaucrats – know what is best for our students.

Another top priority has been to ensure federal money actually makes it to the classroom instead of getting stuck in the bureaucracy.

Consider this: only about 10% of funding for education comes from the federal level, but the federal government is responsible for 41% of the paperwork. That is outrageous. We need to cut through the red tape and put the funding toward actually helping students.

We must also continue pushing to increase access to career and technical education (CTE). A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being in Saraland as they unveiled a new wing of their high school focused on CTE programs. From welding programs to engineering classes, the new facilities will help boost skills training.

CTE is critical to growing our economy. Studies show that there are open jobs right here in Southwest Alabama, but people lack the skills needed to fill the jobs. To gain most of these skills, people do not need a four year degree. They simply need to go through a training program to gain the necessary certificates.

So, it is critical schools in Alabama and across the country continue to make investments in career and technical education. I was pleased to see the Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act back in July to make these necessary investments.

As our students, teachers, and administrators head back to school, please remember that I am working hard in Congress to get the federal government out of the way, ensure funding makes it to the students, and expand career and technical education. Our students deserve the best education possible.

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Byrne Announces 2016 Women’s Forum

2016/08/12

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), along with the University of South Alabama and The Community Foundation of South Alabama, today announced details for the second annual Women’s Forum.

The theme for the 2016 Women’s Forum will be “Charting Your Own Course.” The event will be held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on August 26th at the Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile. The speaker at this year’s event will be Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

Byrne said: “It is an honor to once again host a forum for women throughout Southwest Alabama. It is our hope this forum will help women chart a course that works for them and builds upon their own individual strengths.

“I am especially excited the attendees will hear from my colleague and friend, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a devoted wife and mom – and the highest ranking woman in Congress.  Cathy is a true inspiration not just because she has been so successful but also because she knows firsthand that balancing all the things in her life is hard, but important work.”

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers said: “I'm thrilled to be part of this forum and support Rep. Byrne's leadership in making the event possible. Women offer a unique perspective in all areas of business and public policy, and their input should be encouraged. I look forward to having a robust conversation about how we can empower women of all walks of life to pursue their version of the American Dream.”

Rebecca Byrne, President and CEO of The Community Foundation of South Alabama, said: “The most powerful defense a woman has is to be the best version of herself – real security lies in knowing your own strength.”

The Women’s Forum is free and open to the public. Registration for the event can be found online at Byrne.House.Gov/WomensForum.

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Byrne: Mobile Finally Getting New VA Clinic

2016/08/11

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) today celebrated the announcement of a new VA clinic in Mobile. The announcement comes after Rep. Byrne has made a new VA clinic one of his top priorities in Congress.

The new VA clinic will replace the current, outdated clinic on Spring Hill Avenue in Mobile.

Byrne said: “This announcement is music to the ears of the over 50,000 veterans who live in Southwest Alabama. Since being elected to Congress, I have repeatedly called on the VA to move forward with this project. It is a shame the process took as long as it did, but the new facility will be able to better serve those who have given so much to our country.

“The work is not done. I will continue to provide diligent oversight throughout the construction process to ensure the project remains on schedule. We must also continue pushing for reforms at the VA to ensure accountability and promote greater choices for our veterans.”

Congressman Byrne has held meetings with the VA to discuss the need for a new clinic in Mobile. He also sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald requesting an update on the project and demanding progress after the project stalled out.

More information on the new clinic will be released once it is made available.

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Byrne to Obama: Use Unspent Zika Funds

2016/08/03

Congressman Bradley Byrne today sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling on his administration to use unspent money that has been set aside to address the Zika virus.

In April, the Obama Administration announced that $589 million in mostly unspent money from the Ebola disease would be redirected to combat the Zika virus. As of last Friday, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed that $385 million of that money remains unspent.

This comes as the Obama Administration continues to demand Congress pass their irresponsible $1.9 billion funding package that includes no funding offsets. Instead, the House has passed a $1.1 billion funding bill to address the Zika virus, but the bill is being blocked by Senate Democrats.

Byrne said: “The Zika virus is a real and serious threat to the United States, especially here on the Gulf Coast. It is incredibly troubling that the Obama Administration is sitting on unspent funds that could be used to fight the Zika virus right now, but they are instead spending all their time trying to score political points.

“Additional funding is necessary, and I continue to call on the Senate to pass our responsible $1.1 billion package to help with Zika prevention, research, and treatment. However, until the process moves forward, the Obama Administration should use the money they have available right now.”

Click here to download a copy of Congressman Byrne’s letter. The complete text of the letter to President Obama can be found below.

Dear President Obama:

As the representative of a district threatened by the Zika virus, I am writing to express my great concern at your Administration’s allocation of resources to combat Zika.  Since February, you have urged Congress to appropriate $1.9 billion to combat Zika. Congressional Republicans joined your call for an immediate response to this crisis; however, at a time when this country is $19 trillion in debt, my colleagues and I have simply asked that any funding be targeted and offset from other spending.  To that end, House Republicans requested the large amount of money left over from the Ebola threat be used to address the Zika virus. 

I was pleased your Administration announced on April 6, 2016 that $589 million, the majority of which was unspent Ebola funding, would be redirected to combat the Zika virus.  However, as of last Friday, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed that of this $589 million, $385 million is unspent.  Astonishingly, as your demand for $1.9 billion continues, 65% of the funds already available to the Administration for Zika have not been used.

Now, in the nearly four months since April 6, the Zika threat is upon us.  Zika has reached Florida and may spread into Alabama soon.  For the first time in history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel warning inside the continental United States for pregnant women.  Moreover, in Puerto Rico, positive tests of the virus have jumped from 14% in February to 64% in June, and 2% of the island’s blood supply has tested positive for the Zika virus.

I agree that additional funding is necessary, which is why the House passed a $1.1 billion bill on a bipartisan basis to fund Zika prevention, treatment, and research. Despite the fact our bill includes the same level of funding that previously received overwhelming support in the Senate, our bill has fallen victim to a filibuster by Senate Democrats. It seems that some people are more interested in using the Zika virus as a tool to score political points on the campaign trail instead of actually working to address the serious issue.

The threat of Zika is too important to the people of Alabama and other southern states for the current situation to continue.  I urge you to take immediate action to ensure the available funding resources are swiftly and properly allocated by federal agencies to combat the Zika threat.

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Keeping Up With the US Navy

2016/07/31

"A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace." Those were the words of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, but they hold true today. One of the keys to peace and stability in the world is a strong naval fleet.

I recently had the opportunity to travel with the U.S. Navy to observe the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval training exercise in the Pacific Ocean. RIMPAC is the largest naval exercise in the world and involves navies from nations all around the Pacific Ocean.

This year saw the largest cohort of nations participating with 25 navies taking part and six others observing. There were approximately45 surface ships, 5 submarines, 200 aircraft, and 45,000 personnel. The U.S. had the largest presence with 23 ships.

Russia was not invited to this year’s exercise, but they were there nonetheless. Russia had several ships in the area “observing,” even though they were not invited to participate or observe.

The participating navies did preparation on shore and at dock together and then went to sea exercising everything from humanitarian operations to submarine rescue to surface, anti-submarine and naval air warfare.

The highlight of RIMPAC for me was getting to visit the USS Coronado, a Mobile-built Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), at sea. RIMPAC served as the “coming out party” of sorts for the Austal USA ship, and it is safe to say that everyone was impressed.

From the Chief of Naval Operations to the Commander of the Pacific Fleet to the Commander of the USS Coronado, everyone I talked to raved about the LCS’s performance and capabilities. It really gave me such pride to know the ship was built by the hardworking people of Alabama.

While on the Coronado, I actually had the opportunity to drive the ship. As someone who grew up driving boats on Mobile Bay, it was really something to drive such a large vessel. Most impressive, the LCS can get up to around 38 knots, or 42 miles per hour, and it can turn on a dime.  

In addition to visiting the LCS, our group also paid a visit to the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier. There is nothing quite like landing and shooting off an aircraft carrier. It is a truly unique experience.

While on the ship, I was able to eat lunch with some service members from Alabama. I was excited to meet Deshundra Taite from Monroeville. Seeing people from Southwest Alabama reminded me just how small the world really is.

I asked the sailors I met if they had anything I needed to know or anything I could do for them. One of them made a pretty powerful statement. She said to remind the American people how hard it is for our service members to be away from their families and loved ones for so long. It was a powerful reminder about service and sacrifice.

We also had the opportunity to visit a submarine, a fuel storage facility, the Pacific Command headquarters, and the USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial. All were very impressive and helped me better understand the U.S. Navy.

I returned back to my home on Mobile Bay exhausted but all the more impressed by the quality of technology and individuals who make up the Navy. As I laid down that night, I was able to sleep soundly knowing the U.S. Navy patrols the world's seas assuring our freedom and safety.

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Byrne Applauds Major Transportation Grant for Mobile

2016/07/26

Congressman Bradley Byrne today celebrated news that the City of Mobile will receive a $14,465,044 grant from the federal Department of Transportation for the “One Mobile” project.

The “One Mobile” project will reconstruct Broad and Beauregard Streets. The money comes in the form of a TIGER Discretionary Grant.

Byrne said: “I am so pleased to report that the City of Mobile will be receiving a substantial grant to help support transportation needs in our area. This grant was made possible thanks to the new highway bill passed by Congress last year and our continued relationship building with the federal Department of Transportation.

“My hats off to Mayor Sandy Stimpson and other local leaders for continuing to push hard in support of this project that will make a real difference for the City of Mobile and all of Southwest Alabama.”

Congressman Byrne sent a letter of support for the “One Mobile” project to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx earlier this year. Secretary Foxx also visited Mobile last year at the invitation of Congressman Byrne.

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Standing Up for the Gulf Coast

2016/07/24

I am so proud to live on the Gulf Coast. From our delicious food to the abundant natural resources, our part of the country is unlike any other.

My family has called this area home since the 1780s. My family has always enjoyed fishing, swimming, boating, and just spending time on the Gulf. It has become a way of life for my family, just like it has for so many others.

For some people, the Gulf also provides for economic well-being, whether through the commercial seafood industry or our booming tourism industry.

This is why I am always on the lookout for policies or proposals that might make life harder for families living and working on or near the Gulf. Our area faces unique challenges, and I wanted to share two specific areas where I am looking out for the Gulf Coast.

First, President Obama proposed in his annual budget to take off-shore energy revenue away from the Gulf states and instead spend it all around the country to advance his radical climate agenda.

The President’s proposal would take money from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) of 2006. GOMESA is the federal legislation that creates a revenue sharing agreement for off-shore energy revenue between Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Under GOMESA, each state receives 37.5% of federal oil revenue from drilling of their coasts.

This money is critical to our coastal counties because it is used for important purposes like coastal restoration and hurricane preparedness. I have even suggested using a portion of Alabama’s GOMESA money to help fund the I-10 bridge project, given that I-10 serves as a hurricane evacuation route.

GOMESA was structured to benefit Gulf states because we are the ones who provide a significant share of the infrastructure and workforce for the industry. Gulf states also have inherent environmental and economic risks posed by off-shore energy production.

The President’s proposal simply defies logic and is a slap in the face to all of us on the Gulf. So, I offered an amendment to the annual Department of Interior funding bill that would block any efforts to transfer GOMESA money away from the Gulf states. I’m pleased to report my amendment was adopted and included in the final bill.

Secondly, I also stood up against President Obama’s efforts to implement a “National Ocean Policy.”

Created through an executive order, the “National Ocean Policy” requires various bureaucracies to work together to “zone the ocean,” which would significantly affect the ways in which we utilize our ocean resources.

The “policy” would restrict ocean activities while also redirecting money away from Congressionally-directed priorities. Numerous and varied industries will suffer as a result of this ill-conceived policy, including but not limited to agriculture, energy, fisheries, mining, and marine retail enterprises.

Those who are affected most by the policy don’t have a say or any representation in the rule making process – there is no current system of oversight in place for the regional planning agencies created as an arm of the National Ocean Council.

So, again I went to bat for the Gulf Coast and offered an amendment to block any funds from being spent on the “National Ocean Policy.” My amendment passed by a vote of 237 to 189

These are just two examples of my efforts to stand up for the Gulf Coast. I will continue to do everything I can to protect our coastal communities and make life easier for families all around the Gulf Coast.

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Byrne Announces July Community Office Hours

2016/07/18

Staff members from the Office of Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) will hold office hours in each of the six counties that make up Alabama’s First Congressional District between July 19 and July 21.

The staff members will be on hand to help constituents with problems they may be experiencing with federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicare, and Social Security. Staff members can also assist constituents who need help applying for or receiving a United States passport.

 

Baldwin County

Wednesday, July 20

9:30 – 10:30 am: Orange Beach City Hall

11:00– 11:30 am: Perdido Beach Town Hall

2:00 – 2:30 pm: Silverhill Town Hall

3:00 – 3:30 pm: Bay Minette City Hall

 

Thursday, July 21

10:30 – 11:35 am: Fairhope City Hall

1:30 – 2:30 pm: Daphne City Hall

 

Clarke County

Wednesday, July 20

11:00 – 12:00 noon: Grove Hill Town Hall

1:30 – 2:30 pm: White Smith Memorial Library in Jackson

 

Escambia County

Tuesday, July 19

9:30 – 10:30 am Atmore City Hall

11:00 – 11:30 am: Flomaton City Hall

2:00 – 2:30 pm: Brewton City Hall

2:30 – 3:00 pm: East Brewton City Hall

 

Mobile County

Tuesday, July 19

11:00 – 12:00 noon: Citronelle City Hall

1:30 – 2:30 pm: Semmes City Hall

3:30 – 4:30 pm: Dauphin Island Town Hall

 

Monroe County

Wednesday, July 20

9:30 – 10:30 am: Monroeville City Hall

 

Washington County

Tuesday, July 19

9:30 – 10:30 am: McIntosh Town Hall

 

Wednesday, July 20

3:00 – 4:00 pm: Washington County Public Library in Chatom

 

For more information on visits to Clarke, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties, constituents should contact Congressman Byrne’s Mobile office at 251-690-2811.

For more information on visits to Baldwin and Escambia counties, constituents should contact Congressman Byrne’s Baldwin County office at 251-989-2664.

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Keeping Illegal Immigrants Out of Alabama

2016/07/17

Our nation has a serious problem with illegal immigrants crossing our border each and every day.

Recently, the immigration issue made its way to Southwest Alabama when the Obama Administration announced they were considering a plan to house unaccompanied alien children (UACs) at two Navy airfields in Baldwin County. The airfields are located near Orange Beach and Silverhill.

As soon as I heard this news, I was shocked. It made absolutely no sense. These air fields are bare-bone facilities. They have very little in the way of infrastructure, including no running water or sewage. Needless to say, it would be very expensive to construct inhabitable facilities at these airfields.

While the airfields are currently not active on a daily basis, they are still used at times by our Navy aviators for training. Last time I checked, we try to keep children away from airfields, not put them right in the middle of one.

I also had serious concerns about putting children in temporary housing so close to the Gulf Coast in the middle of hurricane season. In addition to tropical weather, anyone who has spent time in Southwest Alabama knows our area also faces serious threats from tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flooding.

Another issue was the Zika virus. We already know the Gulf Coast is especially vulnerable to a potential outbreak of the virus given our climate and the presence of the specific breed of mosquito in our area. Why would we put these children in area with so many obvious threats?

On top of all this, I worried about the strains this large influx of migrant children would have on our local infrastructure, like our police officers. They would have been responsible for enforcing law and order at the facility, and any incidents would have only put even more strain on our already crowded juvenile court system.

Given these concerns, I immediately went to work to make sure this proposal never became a reality.

I partnered with Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) from the Pensacola area in sending a letter to the Obama Administration outlining our serious concerns with the proposal and the impact it could have on our local communities.

I didn’t stop there. I also introduced an amendment to the annual Department of Defense funding bill to block the Pentagon from spending any money to construct housing for migrant children at military facilities. My amendment was adopted to the bill by a vote of 223 to 198.

Our nation’s military facilities are simply not the place to house these children and making upgrades or changes to military facilities for this purpose could significantly alter their intended use. This could negatively impact our military readiness and put the children in dangerous situations.

Thankfully, on July 14th, my office learned the Baldwin County air fields will not be used to house migrant children. While I still don’t understand why they considered this outlandish idea to begin with, I was pleased to see our hard work opposing the plan pay off.

I want to be clear: this was a total team effort. My office worked with Senators Shelby and Sessions, members of the Baldwin County Commission, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack, other local elected officials and the entire Alabama Congressional delegation to defeat this proposal.

While the Baldwin County issue has been resolved, our nation still has a serious immigration issue that must be addressed. This issue will not go away until we get serious about enforcing the immigration laws already on the books and actually secure our borders.

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Contact Information

119 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4931
Fax 202-225-0562
byrne.house.gov

Bradley Byrne was born and raised in Mobile, just a few miles from the site where his great-great-great grandfather, Gerald Byrne, settled in the 1780’s.

After completing his undergraduate studies at Duke University, Byrne received his law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. He has practiced law in Mobile for more than 30 years, always active in the local community through various service and economic development organizations.

Byrne served as a member of the Alabama State Senate representing District 32 from 2003 to 2007. Byrne was elected to Congress in December 2013, to complete the term of Congressman Jo Bonner, who announced his retirement in May 2013. Congressman Byrne was elected to his first full term on November 4, 2014.

In Congress, Byrne has established himself as an effective legislator by successfully advocating for local interests while also championing a smaller, less invasive federal government. Byrne is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, House Committee on Rules, and House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Byrne has been married to the former Rebecca Dukes of Montgomery for over 30 years. Rebecca is the President and CEO of The Community Foundation of South Alabama, and they are the parents of four children: Patrick, Kathleen, Laura, and Colin. Bradley and Rebecca welcomed the birth of their first grandson, MacGuire Arthur Byrne, on September 4, 2014. Bradley lives in Fairhope where he and his family are members of St. James Episcopal Church.


Serving With

Martha Roby

ALABAMA's 2nd DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Robert Aderholt

ALABAMA's 4th DISTRICT

Mo Brooks

ALABAMA's 5th DISTRICT

Gary Palmer

ALABAMA's 6th DISTRICT