It’s been a very busy time in the district

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, April 29, 2014

By U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

This month, members of Congress were given an Easter district work period of two weeks to travel home and be with their families, but also to spend two weeks hearing directly from their constituents on issues that matter to the future of our country. Every chance I get to spend time at home, I plan a very busy schedule in order to reach as many of my friends and neighbors as possible in Alabama’s First District. These two weeks were no different.

The Wednesday before Easter, I hosted a joint town hall discussion with Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida. As a member of Congress, it is one of my top priorities to ensure that the men and women who have bravely risked their lives in defense of our nation are treated with respect and dignity and receive the care they’ve earned in service to our country.

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Today, with a massive VA backlog and a quality of care that is sorely lacking, it is clear there is much more we must be doing in service of these individuals. I was glad to have Chairman Miller in Mobile to listen to southwest Alabama veterans and learn what he and I can be doing to improve the quality of care for our veterans.

I also had the privilege of traveling to Monroeville to participate in the unveiling of the “A Celebration of Reading” statue and enjoy a wonderful rendition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s important to support reading and the arts, especially in Monroe County, which has a rich literary tradition.

Last Tuesday, I was able to tour the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. This campus is the future site of Airbus, which will play host to thousands of direct manufacturing jobs for southwest Alabama residents. However, I learned Brookley’s potential goes far beyond one company.

As suppliers move in to manufacture goods that will be used in the construction of Airbus airplanes, the multiplier effect for jobs and economic activity at Brookley will be tremendous. I’m very excited about the future at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, and I am glad I was able to learn how I can support its future development.

I was also privileged to speak last Tuesday at the Mobile Chamber’s Annual Military Appreciation Luncheon at Battleship Park. There, I was honored to be among so many current and retired servicemen and women, who have sacrificed much in the defense of our country. My speech centered on the fact that a strong America means a peaceful world. As Vladimir Putin, China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea challenge our position as the world’s dominant power, it is more important than ever that we give our military the tools it needs to carry out the mission the American people have asked it to. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m working to make tough choices and ensure that national defense is considered to be the top priority it should be by our legislators.

On Wednesday, I was proud to host House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy at Austal headquarters in Mobile to showcase the important Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Congressman McCarthy is a very important friend to have in our fight to preserve these jobs. As the third-ranking House Republican, he is charged with informing members on how to build a conservative voting record and on the policy merits of each vote. I was pleased that Congressman McCarthy was impressed with our shipyard and expressed his support for fully funding this program that is vital to the Navy’s future. I look forward to working with Congressman McCarthy to advocate for these jobs in Congress.

Thursday, I was pleased to host two town hall meetings in Baldwin County — one in Robertsdale, and one in Fairhope. To date, I have completed over 20 town hall meetings since being sworn-in this January. It’s important for me to hear directly from my constituents on the issues that are most important to them so that I can be a more effective representative for our area in Washington.

It’s important for me to continue listening to your concerns so that I can be a more effective voice for our community in Washington. I am honored to represent Alabama’s 1st District in Congress, and I’ll continue working hard every chance I get to earn your trust as your representative.

Bradley Byrne is the U.S. representative for the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.