“Here we mark the price of freedom.” Those are the words engraved on the Freedom Wall at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Freedom Wall includes 4,048 gold stars, and each star represents 100 American military deaths during the Second World War.
I recently took time to visit the memorial and pay my respects to those who served our country and the ones who ultimately lost their lives in defense of the freedoms we all hold dear.
The monument is especially powerful for me because many members of my family played a role in the war. My dad served in the Army as U.S. forces island-hopped throughout the Pacific. My uncle, Pat Byrne, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he sustained serious injuries. He went on to earn the Purple Heart for his service. Another uncle, Jack Langsdale, actually lost his life while serving in the Merchant Marines after his ship was sunk by a German U-boat.
These are just the stories from my family. I know every family has their own stories of service and sacrifice from the Greatest Generation and other conflicts, including the ongoing War on Terror.
In Washington, I fight every day to ensure we are giving our current service members the tools they need to defend our country. The military has seen cuts in recent years that have taken a real toll on our military equipment and resources. This, in turn, has put many service members at greater risk.
So, with Memorial Day approaching, the House recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation sets policy and authorizes spending for our military. The bill orders a pay raise for our troops while also providing proper oversight of the Pentagon.
One of the best ways to avoid major conflict and prevent putting more Americans in harm’s way is to project American strength around the world. In order to do that, we need a strong and fully capable military. This year’s NDAA would get us headed in the right direction by making serious investments in our military readiness. I was proud to support the bill as we work to rebuild our military.
I always hear a lot about the need to keep our military strong, and I recently heard the same plea from veterans at the Armed Forces Day event at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile.
This event was especially powerful because the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was on display, and many of our local Vietnam veterans were seeing the wall for the first time.
One veteran broke down in tears upon seeing the name of one of his former comrades. His tears spoke to the pain of war, but also to the comradery that is shared amongst our service members. It was an incredibly powerful moment, and only reaffirmed my commitment to standing up for our veterans and active-duty service members.
This Memorial Day, I hope you took time to reflect on the stories of service and sacrifice that helped make our country great. Hopefully you were able to pay special respects to the men and women who ultimately lost their life in defense of freedom.
Freedom is not, and has never been, free. That is the message in each of those stars on the World War II Memorial, in each of those names on the Vietnam Wall, and on each tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery.
May we never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and may we each work every day to uphold the freedoms they fought so hard to protect.Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) used debate on the Energy and Water Appropriations Act last night to bring attention to critical Army Corps of Engineers projects in Southwest Alabama.
Byrne encouraged the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize important local projects such as dredging Fly Creek, Dog River, and Fowl River. The amendment also asked the Army Corps of Engineers to focus on Bayou Coden in Mobile County. Byrne highlighted the important role these waterways play in tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and ship building.
A transcript of Congressman Byrne’s remarks in support of the amendment can be found below.
Byrne said: “My amendment would allow for a number of important Army Corps of Engineers projects in my home district of Coastal Alabama to move forward.
“In many areas, our nation’s waterways are the lifeblood of the economy. Being from a Port City, I certainly understand this and appreciate the work the Army Corps of Engineers does to keep our waterways well maintained.
“I know the Army Corps works hard, in tandem with Congress, to prioritize projects that keep our waterways and ports open for commerce.
“Unfortunately, at times, it seems like smaller projects, in our more rural areas, get ignored or forgotten altogether. While they may not include a major waterway, these projects are vital to many of our local communities and have a significant economic impact from commercial and recreational fishing, as well as tourism in general.
“My amendment seeks to prioritize some projects in Southwest Alabama that are long overdue.
“A project to dredge Fly Creek in Baldwin County, where depths need restoring after severe flooding in 2014.
“Another project would allow for Dog and Fowl rivers to be dredged, which will help accommodate commercial and recreational fishing. This project hasn’t been touched since 2009.
“Yet another project that needs attention is Bayou Coden, which is an important area for the local shipbuilding industry.
“I also must thank the Army Corps for their attention to a few projects in Coastal Alabama, such as dredging Perdido Pass and Bon Secour River. This are critical projects, but more work remains.
“Mr. Chairman, I understand that my amendment may not be allowed under House rules, but I believe it is important to have this debate and remind the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, about the importance of these smaller projects that really make in huge difference in communities all across the United States.
“In these tight budget times, I know it can be difficult to balance the need for major Army Corps projects with smaller projects like the ones I have mentioned.
“But I hope the Army Corps will work with Congress to seek a proper balance that ensures our smaller waterways receive the maintenance and attention they deserve.”Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) announced today that he has received the “Hero of Main Street” Award from the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The “Hero of Main Street” Award is given to a group of bipartisan members who support the retail industry on issues including international trade, infrastructure investment, tax reform, and labor issues.
Byrne said: “Top-down, government-knows-best policies are only making things worse for our local retailers in Alabama and across the country. That’s why I am proud to champion pro-growth solutions that get Washington out of the way and allow retailers to flourish. I am honored to receive this special award, and I vow to continue standing up for our nation’s retailers throughout my time in Congress.”
National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said: “Congressman Byrne has shown through his support that he cares about retailers big and small, and values the role these businesses play in communities across the country. He is an advocate for his thriving Main Street and the long-term growth of the retail industry – our nation’s largest job creators and the catalyst for continued growth and opportunity for our nation’s economy.”
The Hero of Main Street Award was created by NRF in 2013 to recognize members of Congress for support of the retail industry’s public policy priorities. Eligibility is based on NRF’s Retail Opportunity Index, bill sponsorship, and advocacy to advance the industry’s priorities.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants, and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans.Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) spoke out today in support of efforts to ensure religious freedom protections for faith-based organizations and businesses.
Byrne’s speech came following intense debate in the House of Representatives last week on an amendment by Congressman Steve Russell (R-OK) that would ensure religious freedom protections for religious corporations, religious associations, religious educational institutions, and religious societies. The Russell Amendment applied only to those four categories of religious entities.
The Russell Amendment was included in the National Defense Authorization Act when it passed the House on May 18, 2016.
A transcript of Congressman Byrne’s remarks can be found below.
Byrne said: “Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Russell, offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act regarding religious freedom.
“Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have attempted to use this amendment as a wedge in an effort to divide the American people. I want to take a minute to discuss the true facts about its impact.
“In September of 1789, the First Congress considered the demands made by many participants in the state conventions called for ratifying the U.S. Constitution. In response to many of these concerns, Congress approved, by voice vote, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. It was ratified in December of 1791.
“The first two clauses address religious freedom. The first prohibits an ‘establishment’ of religion, so that citizens would not be forced to support a national church as was the case in Great Britain.
“The second clause prohibits any government act that inhibits the ‘free exercise’ of religion by a citizen, thereby assuring that the government cannot dictate religious beliefs or interfere with citizens as they practice and live out their faith.
“Historically, we have a proud tradition of Republicans and Democrats working together to protect Free Exercise under the First Amendment. A great example of this is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed the House by voice vote in 1993.
“Unfortunately, basic principles of free exercise are under attack today. In response, Mr. Russell’s limited amendment would extend religious liberty protection to four categories of government contractors.
“It is important to note that one doesn't lose Constitutional rights if he or she seeks to become a contractor of the government. Hence, contractors are protected in the ‘free exercise’ of their religious beliefs and practices. The Russell amendment makes explicit these contractors' rights to such protection in the employment of people who work for them.
“So let’s look at the Russell amendment. It states: ‘Any branch or agency of the Federal Government shall, with respect to any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror for a Federal government contract, subcontract, grant, purchase order, or cooperative agreement, provide protections and exemptions consistent with Sections 702(a) and 702(e)(2) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . and section 103(d) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.’
“Again, note that the Russell Amendment is limited to these four categories of religious entities and does not apply to other private entities or individuals.
“Mr. Speaker, the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a landmark civil rights law which bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title 7 of the Act deals with discrimination in the work place. Section 702 specifically protects the four categories of religious employers listed in the Russell amendment.
“Hence, the Russell Amendment extends to these four categories of religious entities when they are working for, or when they attempt to do work for, the government, the same religious liberty rights they have had for over 50 years when operating in the private sector. This approach is neither new nor novel.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 extends many of the same rights granted under the 1964 Act to people with disabilities. Section 103(d) allows the four categories of religious entities to give ‘preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion’ and to require that ‘all applicants and employees conform to the religious tenets of such organization.’
“Again, the Russell amendment extends to these four categories of religious entities the same religious liberty rights they have had for over 25 years when operating in the private sector to when they seek to do business with the government.
“The opponents of the Russell Amendment say it provides for discrimination against the LGBT community. A simple review of the Amendment and the underlying Federal statutes demonstrates an absence of any reference to LGBT persons.
“Indeed, the Russell Amendment is narrowly drawn to apply only to the four categories of religious entities in their employment of individuals to carry on their work. Any service or product produced by such an entity in a government contract would have to be provided to whomever the government requires and that obviously, and appropriately, will include those in the LGBT community.
“Mr. Speaker, if the Russell Amendment is discriminatory then so is the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“If allowing a religious entity to employ persons who share its beliefs is discriminatory than the First Congress, the heavily Democratic Congress of 1964 and the Democratic controlled Congresses of 1990 and 1993, as well as Presidents George Washington, Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were all supportive of discrimination.
“It is certainly fair to debate the law of our country as it applies to LGBT people, and their status under the law has undergone rapid change in the last 15 years. But it is inaccurate to portray the Russell Amendment as anything other than a narrowly drawn effort to protect religious freedom.”Read More
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 May 24 and May 26.
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.
Wednesday, May 25
9:00 – 10:00 am: Magnolia Springs Town Hall
10:30 – 11:30 am: Fairhope City Hall
1:30 – 2:30 pm: Daphne City Hall
3:00 – 4:00 pm: Spanish Fort City Hall
Thursday, May 26
8:30 – 9:30 am: Orange Beach City Hall
10:00 – 11:00 am: Gulf Shores City Hall
1:00 – 1:45 pm: Foley City Hall
2:00 – 2:45 pm: Robertsdale Town Hall
3:30 – 4:30 pm: Bay Minette City Hall
Thursday, May 26
11:00 – 12:00 noon: Grove Hill Town Hall
1:30 – 2:30 pm: White Smith Memorial Library in Jackson
Tuesday, May 24
9:30 – 10:30 am: Atmore City Hall
11:00 – 12:00 pm: Brewton City Hall
Wednesday, May 25
9:00 – 10:00 am: Citronelle City Hall
3:30 – 4:30 pm: Dauphin Island Town Hall
Thursday, May 26
9:30 – 10:30 am: Monroeville City Hall
Thursday, May 26
3:00 – 4:00 pm: Washington County Public Library, 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.Read More
I recently saw a local news story about a young 18 year old boy from Southwest Alabama who struggled with prescription drug abuse. He talked about how it started out small with just a few pain pills but his addiction spiraled out of control until he was seriously ill.
Thankfully this young man was able to seek treatment from a local drug abuse program, and now he is preparing to apply to college. Sadly, not every person who struggles with prescription drug abuse is so fortunate.
Studies show that approximately 46,000 Americans die because of a drug overdose each year, and young Americans are disproportionately impacted. That adds up to over 130 deaths a day.
It is safe to say our nation is facing a serious epidemic when it comes to prescription drug abuse, and the real issue is with opioids. An opioid is a type of narcotic derived from the opium poppy, which includes drugs such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.
Opioids are also found in heroin, and many people who struggle with prescription drug abuse ultimately find themselves using heroin. This makes the epidemic even worse.
Overwhelmingly, the people who struggle with opioid addiction are not bad people or looking to break the law. The addiction often develops after someone is correctly prescribed pain medicine in response to an injury. In many of the stories I have heard, the addiction develops after a young athlete gets injured playing sports.
The opioid epidemic is real and it is serious. The epidemic doesn’t discriminate about who it affects. It has hit rural areas and urban cities. It impacts the young and the old. It doesn’t care about skin color. Americans from every walk of life have experienced this heartbreaking epidemic one way or another.
In the House of Representatives, we have made it a top priority to address the opioid epidemic, and we are committed to doing so in a bipartisan fashion. Just a few weeks ago, the House passed a package of 18 bills designed to address different aspects of the opioid epidemic with large bipartisan votes.
A few of the bills would help veterans who are struggling with opioid abuse. It isn’t uncommon for a veteran to come back from combat with serious injuries that require pain medicine. These bills require the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring their pain management guidelines up-to-date while also strengthening education and training for medical professionals.
Another bill would create an inter-agency task force to update medical standards for doctors and create a path forward for pain management. The key is to find ways to treat those with chronic pain while reducing the likelihood for addiction to develop.
The Good Samaritan Assessment Act would reform our “good Samaritan” laws to make sure people are protected if they seek medical care for someone who has overdosed on illegal drugs.
Yet another bill is designed to study and improve treatment options for babies impacted by prescription drug abuse while they are still in the womb. This is a serious issue that hits our nation’s most vulnerable.
The Senate has passed their own opioid legislation, and a Conference Committee will work out the differences between the House and the Senate proposals and get a bipartisan bill to the President’s desk.
At the end of the day, the epidemic is too serious for us to just sit back and hope things get better. We must act to stop opioid abuse and ensure that people get the treatment they need.
This is an issue where we can come together – as Republicans and Democrats – to address an issue that impacts every single community in the United States, and that is exactly what we are doing.Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) voted yesterday in favor of legislation to provide funding for combatting the Zika virus.
The House bill provides $622 million in new funding to address the Zika virus. The funding is offset by leftover money from the Ebola virus response and the transfer of funds from the Department of Health and Human Services Non-Reoccurring Expense Fund. The new funding is on top of the $589 million that has already been repurposed from the Ebola fund.
Byrne said: “Being from the Gulf Coast, my district is particularly vulnerable to a potential outbreak of the Zika virus, so I believe it is important Congress address this issue. That is exactly what the House has done while also ensuring fiscal responsibility.
“All told, the House will have provided $1.2 billion to combat the Zika virus and put important prevention programs in place. Instead of trying to score political points through scare tactics, President Obama should call on the Senate to support our legislation so these important funds can start being used.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus “is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.” People rarely die from the Zika virus, but studies have shown that the virus causes serious birth defects. The Aedes species mosquito is found in Alabama’s coastal counties.
The legislation passed by a vote of 241 to 184.Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) today praised House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes construction for three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in Fiscal Year 2017.
The NDAA rejects efforts by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to cut the LCS program and includes an amendment by Congressman Byrne to block a downselect to a single shipyard. The Independence variant of the LCS is built in Southwest Alabama by Austal USA.
Byrne said: “This vote was for all the men and women at the Austal shipyard who work so hard to build a first-class ship to support our nation’s sailors. The Navy has made clear they need these ships in order to fulfill their mission, and I am so pleased to see the full House of Representatives agree to reject any cuts to the LCS program. This was a bipartisan vote, and I remain excited about the future of the LCS program.”
The NDAA is a comprehensive bill that sets policy and authorizes spending for the entire U.S. military. The bill authorizes spending at a level of $574 billion for national defense base requirements and an additional $36 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
Byrne said: “It seems like every day a new report comes out about the dire situation our military is in. That’s why it is so important this year’s NDAA makes critical investments in boosting military readiness to ensure we can respond to the wide range of threats facing our country. The bill also makes long-needed reforms to ensure efficiency and accountability at the Pentagon.”
Among the many important provisions and reforms, the NDAA would:
The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 277 to 147. Click here for more information on the NDAA.Read More
The House Education and the Workforce Committee today approved a bill introduced by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) that would block the Department of Labor’s controversial “persuader” rule.
The “persuader” regulation will make it harder for employers to communicate with employees and undermine the right of workers to make informed decisions in union activities.
The “persuader” rule upends decades of labor law in an effort to require employers to report virtually any contact with advisors on union-related issues. This is a substantial departure from the long-standing labor policy that requires disclosure only when an advisor had direct contact with employees. Unions and their advisors are exempt from these reporting requirements.
Byrne said: “Time and time again, this administration has catered to powerful union interests at the expense of hardworking families. We won’t sit back while the department rewrites decades of labor policy in a partisan effort to silence employers and stifle worker free choice.
“This rule will make it far more difficult for small businesses to obtain legal advice during union elections, and even worse, for workers to hear from both sides of the debate. Congress has a responsibility to protect the rights of America’s workers and job creators, and today’s vote is an important step.”
Byrne’s legislation, H.J. Res. 87, would block the rule under the Congressional Review Act. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval that would prevent a federal agency from implementing a rule without Congressional authorization. Legislation under the Congressional Review Act cannot be filibustered in the Senate which allows for expedited consideration.
The resolution passed by a vote of 21 to 10.
A transcript of Congressman Byrne’s official statement in support of his legislation can be found below.
“Thank you, Chairman Kline. I’m proud to have introduced this resolution and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of it today.
“This resolution is about standing up for the rights of workers and employers. The Obama administration has continually put the interests of union leaders ahead of what’s best for hardworking Americans. It’s disappointing, because working families are struggling in today’s economy, which we recently heard is growing at an anemic rate of only 0.5 percent.
“Instead of focusing on ways to grow the economy and empower more Americans with opportunities to move up the economic ladder, the administration has been working around the clock to check off their Big Labor wish list. The latest example is the Department of Labor’s “persuader” rule, which radically alters long-standing policies employers must follow when communicating with their employees about union-related issues. The well-established “advice” exemption of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act has been in effect during the Kennedy administration, the Johnson administration, the Carter administration, and the Clinton administration. But now, decades later, the Obama administration is working around Congress and unilaterally rewriting the law.
“As someone who has practiced labor law, I know firsthand how complicated and confusing federal labor policies are. I’m from Southwest Alabama, where we don’t have many large employers, but we have many small businesses. When faced with a union-organizing campaign, most of these small companies don’t have HR departments or in-house attorneys to turn to for advice, so they find someone like me to help them understand what the law is.
“However, the invasive and costly requirements under this new rule will severely limit the ability of small businesses in Alabama and across the country to get the legal advice they need. They’ll be stripped of their confidential attorney-client relationship and lose their fundamental right to counsel, and as a result, they’ll be forced to fend for themselves. Many small businesses, despite their best efforts, will inadvertently get tripped up while trying to navigate a maze of labor rules on their own—I’ve seen this with many clients over the years who are simply trying to understand and follow the law.
“If employers cannot obtain basic legal advice during union elections, many will reluctantly choose to not say anything at all to their employees. And that’s exactly what unions and the administration want under this extreme and partisan rule—to silence employers. But who loses in this environment? America’s workers do. They’ll be deprived of the information they need before they cast an important vote on whether or not to join a union. Workers will hear from union organizers, but they won’t hear the other side of the story—how this vote will impact their paychecks, benefits, and other personal matters. And again, that’s precisely what the administration and their labor allies want. They aren’t interested in fair and democratic union elections. Instead, they are interested in tilting the balance of power toward union bosses.
“As Members of Congress, we don’t have to sit back while the administration tramples on the rights of employers and employees. We have the power, and the responsibility, to block this harmful rule under the Congressional Review Act. And we have a choice, to stand with Big Labor or to stand with America’s workers. I urge my colleagues to stand with America’s workers today and support this resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.”Read More
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) joined 38 of his House colleagues today in sending a letter to President Barack Obama demanding he rescind his threat to cut off funding to schools that do not comply with the Obama Administration’s “bathroom policy.”
Byrne said: “With all the serious issues going on in the world today, it is absurd that the Obama Administration is worried about where students use the bathroom. This is federal overreach at its worst. These are decisions that should be handled at the state and local level, not by federal bureaucrats in Washington.
“President Obama needs to stay out of our schools and stop with the political grandstanding. Instead, we should be focusing on serious issues like strengthening our military, taking care of our veterans, and helping bring Americans out of poverty.”
The letter can be found by clicking here. The text of the letter can be found below.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
We are extremely concerned with the recent directive from your Administration threatening legal action against or denial of congressionally appropriated funds to local school districts that do not allow students to use their bathroom of choice regardless of their gender. We ask that you rescind your poorly executed threat to school districts across the country and reaffirm their right to govern themselves as they see fit within the bounds of the law.
To date, neither statute nor legal precedent has extended civil rights protections based on gender identity. Furthermore your actions threaten to infringe on the constitutional right of Congress to appropriate funds. We view this as an effort to implement your Administration’s political agenda outside the bounds of the law and against the will of the American people.
We insist that you withdraw this legally unfounded threat immediately.Read More
119 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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Thousands of caregivers are stuck in the VA Family Caregiver Program backlog. My bill passed this week will fix that https://t.co/1IX0nm5hZR
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