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Byrne holds town hall Monday

Everything from women serving in the military to the current status of the United States’ economy were topics addressed and answered by Rep. Bradley Byrne during his Listening to You town hall meeting tour at Atmore City Hall on Monday.

The town hall meeting was Byrne’s eighth stop on the tour, which he wrapped up the same evening.

When asked what he thinks about women serving in the military, Byrne said he was all for it.

Byrne said a big question is whether or not women have the adequate upper-body strength to carry heavy equipment in combat situations.

On veteran’s healthcare benefits, Byrne said he wants to take the healthcare away from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and give vets a card so that they can “get the healthcare they need.”

“I do believe that this will save taxpayers money,” he said.

Byrne said some 80 percent of his constituent work comes from veterans.

One question centered around the economy and the need to create jobs.

Byrne said about 30 percent of the jobs available require a four-year baccalaureate’s degree, and the other 70 percent requires a high school diploma or advanced technical training.

“Welders are in need in this area,” he said.

At present, the U.S.’s federal debt is more than $19 trillion.

“It’s terrible,” Byrne said.

Byrne said the debt has built up because two-thirds of the programs that get money from the government, including Medicaid, food stamps, to name a couple, get the funds needed based on an automatic vote.

Congress doesn’t have any control over the vote, he said, adding that’s the problem.

Byrne said a solution would be to develop programs that get people out of the affected programs and get them to work.

“We wouldn’t be taking people out who need it,” he said.

On the Interstate 10 Bridge project, Byrne said the design for it will be done in either December or early January, and added that it could take four to six years to build.

“The hardest part is how we’re going to pay for it,” he said.

The I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Widening project is a proposal to increase the capacity of I-10 by constructing a new six-lane bridge with 215 feet of Air Draft Clearance (ADC) across the Mobile River and widening the existing I-10 bridges across Mobile Bay from four to eight lanes. The proposed project would be located in Mobile and Baldwin Counties.