Funding our government

By Congressman Bradley Byrne

There is no more important function of the federal government than to provide for our common defense. Unfortunately, for nearly seven years, Democrats have held funding for our military hostage, and as a result, we are facing a serious readiness crisis in our military.

We have planes unable to fly and ships that cannot sail. A lack of proper resources has resulted in a loss of servicemember lives and has made our country ill-prepared to face aggression from dangerous adversaries like China, Russia, and North Korea.

This level of vulnerability is unacceptable.

President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 1625, the Fiscal Year 2018 government funding bill, which ensures funding for the entire federal government through September 30th. This legislation provides the resources to finally rebuild our military as President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis have promised.

The biggest factor in my vote for this bill was the fact that it fully funds our military after years of dangerous budget cuts that crippled our national defense. With this bill, we are finally getting the resources our servicemen and women need to keep our nation safe. I am confident in the Trump Administration’s ability to spend this money in a way that reflects our conservative priorities and rebuilds our national defense.

Importantly, this bill includes many provisions important to Southwest Alabama. Specifically, the bill funds the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships and one Expeditionary Fast Transport, which are constructed right here at Austal USA in Mobile. These ships are critical in our efforts to build a fully capable 355-ship Navy fleet.

The funding bill paves the way for new road projects, like the I-10 Bridge, while also ensuring resources for improvements to the Port of Mobile and necessary expansion of rural broadband initiatives. It includes strong funding levels for vital coastal ecosystem programs and makes critical investments for Alabama’s farmers and foresters.

Fighting illegal immigration remains a top priority, and I am pleased to report that the bill includes $1.57 billion for physical barriers along the Southwest border and provides funding for more than 95 miles of a border wall system. The bill also increases funding for border security and immigration enforcement, putting more “boots on the ground.”

Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions about the funding bill circulating online and in the national news media, and I want to set the record straight.

One such claim is that the bill funds Planned Parenthood. There is not a single penny of funding for Planned Parenthood in this legislation. In fact, the bill includes the Hyde Amendment, which makes clear that no taxpayer money can be used to perform abortions.

Second, the bill does not include a pay raise for Members of Congress. In fact, the bill includes a freeze in pay for Members of Congress, as it should.

Third, the bill does not include any provision to restrict Second Amendment rights. It does include the Fix NICS Act, which is supported by President Trump and the NRA. The provision simply ensures that government officials put required information into the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS). It does not expand who is ineligible to purchase a firearm or make changes to the current background check process when buying a gun.

To be clear, this was not a perfect bill. I join President Trump in calling on the Senate to change the 60-vote filibuster rule to make it easier to pass funding bills that better meet our national priorities.

In the meantime, I believe supporting this bill was the best option given the circumstances and the critical need to fully fund the United States military.