Things to watch for in 2016

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

Last week, we took a look back at some of the highlights from 2015, like the important progress on the I-10 bridge and my efforts to improve health care for our nation’s veterans. This week, I want to look ahead to some of the things you should watch for in 2016.

Much of the attention in the new year will be focused on the presidential election, and it is certainly an important one. It is critically important we elect a true conservative who will restore America’s standing on the world stage and roll back the government overreach we experienced throughout the Obama presidency.

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As the presidential election unfolds, our Republican majority in the House must put forward a clear and bold agenda focused on commonsense reforms. Instead of sitting back and watching the race unfold, we should use our majority to show what a Republican-led federal government would look like.

One of the first votes the House will take in 2016 will be on a bill to dismantle Obamacare and eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. This bill has already cleared the Senate, so once it passes the House it will head to President Obama’s desk.

Obamacare is fundamentally broken, and that is why I remain committed to a full repeal of this failed law. But let’s not just stop at repealing the law. Let’s also offer a health care alternative focused on patient-centered reforms that aren’t mandated by the federal government. I am proud to support the American Health Care Reform Act, which would repeal Obamacare and focus on making health care affordable for all Americans by encouraging competition and innovation.

The top priority in 2016 must be on combating radical Islamic extremism and the terrorists who wish to bring harm to our country. I believe Congress should pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that applies specifically to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

President Obama has so far failed to outline a clear strategy to defeat ISIS in the Middle East and here at home. Since he refuses to lead, Congress should pass an AUMF that gives our military men and women the authorization they need to defeat this vile enemy. A strong AUMF will send a message to our troops and our allies that we are committed to this fight, and it will send a message to ISIS that we will not allow their acts of terror to continue.

We must also continue pushing to make reforms to our broken immigration system, including the refugee resettlement program. I will keep fighting to halt the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States at a time when we simply cannot adequately screen these individuals. We shouldn’t stop with the refugee program though. We also need to strengthen the visa process, the asylum program, and our overall border security.

This year will also be an important year for many of our local priorities like the I-10 Bridge project and Red Snapper season.

Along with Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, I will be fighting every day to push back against the Obama Administration’s efforts to cut the Littoral Combat Ship program. These are the ships we build at the Austal shipyard in Mobile, and I know how important these ships are to the future of our naval fleet. I will work tirelessly to protect these jobs and ensure the Navy has the tools it needs to defend our country.

Two-thousand-and-sixteen will undoubtedly be a busy one in our nation’s capital and right here in Southwest Alabama, so I hope you will stay in touch with my office and let me know if my staff or I can ever do anything for you.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.