2018 was a landmark year in many ways for Alabama and the United States. From defense funding to town halls, agriculture to Red Snapper, there was much to celebrate this year and much to anticipate in the next. Join me as we take a look back at the past year.
I kicked things off in January by celebrating my 100th Town Hall Meeting in Grove Hill. I always enjoy meeting the folks in our area and hearing about the issues that matter most to them. This year, I hosted 25 town hall meetings throughout Southwest Alabama.
We made real strides in 2018 when it comes to our national defense, including passing much needed funding for Alabama’s many defense priorities. I was proud to vote in favor of a funding bill that allows for the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and one Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), which are built by Austal USA in Mobile. This funding helps us move toward a 355-ship Navy.
This marked the first time in ten years that we were able to fully fund our military on time, and in a bipartisan way. We funded critical Alabama defense priorities like the Austal shipyard; additional UH-60M Black Hawk, Lakota, and Apache helicopters, which are critical to the Army aviation mission at Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass; $22.4 million went to the Stryker Upgrade program, which supports the work at the Anniston Army Depot; and we increased funding to address cyber threats to our missile defense systems, which is critical to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
This year, we were able to celebrate great developments for our local fishermen and coastal communities. In April, a 47-day Red Snapper season for recreational fishermen was announced. And just this December, NOAA Fisheries published a new rule to increase the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for the Red Snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. These latest numbers further drive us forward in the fight for greater state control over the Red Snapper fishery.
Thanks to bipartisan reforms to our career and technical education programs, we are better able to give students tangible skills that help them succeed in real-world careers. In July, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which made reforms to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to ensure more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need.
In 2018, we made real progress on infrastructure. We passed critical legislation to support our nation’s water infrastructure, including the Port of Mobile. We are also closer than ever before to building the I-10 Bridge.
And lastly, we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement on the 2018 Farm Bill to benefit our farmers and foresters in Alabama. The Farm Bill will allow for improved crop protections and loan options for farmers, incentivize rural development, support animal disease prevention and management, and will continue our nation’s commitment to agriculture and farmers. I am especially pleased to see the substantial resources provided to improve rural broadband access to communities.
The many victories we were able to secure for the American people cannot be condensed into this brief article, but rest assured that this year, Alabama and the America are better off for the accomplishments made by the 115th Congress.
The next year will bring many changes with the Democrat majority in the House, but my New Year’s Resolution is simple: I will continue to fight for the people of Alabama each and every day.
From all of my staff, my family, and myself, we wish you a Happy New Year!
Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.