As you are all too aware by now, our federal government shut down for three days recently because Senate Democrats refused to support a reasonable funding bill over their unreasonable immigration demands. We should never be in a position where one party is allowed to hold our military and government hostage over an unrelated policy issue.
This government shutdown was completely unnecessary and should not have happened. Before the shutdown occurred, the House had passed all twelve of our government funding bills and voted four times to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as All Kids here in Alabama. All of these bills were blocked repeatedly by Senate Democrats, which led to this pattern of short-term funding resolutions and ultimately the government shutdown.
I have serious concerns with short-term funding measures and firmly believe that this is no way to govern. It is irresponsible to run the government for a few weeks or months at a time. Despite this, I supported the short-term bill in the House because I believe it is critical that we support our men and women in uniform and fund CHIP. While short-term funding measures are bad, government shutdowns are much worse – especially as it relates to our military.
Fortunately, Senate Democrats decided to end the irresponsible government shutdown, and I was able to get out of Washington to travel throughout the Second District as planned. During this first district travel week of the year, I visited with constituents, local leaders, and business owners. From Autauga County to the Wiregrass and many places in between, it was a busy week!
I had the opportunity to speak to the Brundidge and Ozark Rotary Clubs at their weekly meetings. We had productive conversations about some of the things our unified government accomplished in 2017, and I shared with them some of my policy priorities for 2018, including rebuilding our nation’s aging infrastructure and working to craft a farm bill that treats our Alabama commodities fairly.
I visited my friends at the International Paper facilities in Dothan and Prattville to tour their sites and learn more about the many details that go into their operations. One day, I stopped by Troy Cable to learn about some of their upcoming projects and discuss recent rural broadband initiatives. I have said several times that one of my top priorities for 2018 is rebuilding our infrastructure, and an important part of that is expanding access to broadband.
This month President Donald Trump signed two executive orders to expand broadband access in rural America, demonstrating commitment to building more broadband availability throughout our nation. There’s no doubt that areas in our community will greatly benefit from enhanced broadband capacity and efficiency.
Also while in Troy, I had the privilege of speaking to seventh graders at Charles Henderson Middle School about what it’s like to be a member of Congress. I told them how important it is to set goals for yourself but also to keep your eyes wide open and be willing to take opportunities that aren’t necessarily part of your plan. I always enjoy talking to students about our government – the more they know, the stronger our country will be when they are leading it one day.
I am so glad that the gridlock in Washington didn’t impact my plans to visit with so many people. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for me to hear directly from you. Hearing firsthand the concerns and issues that are important to those I represent enables me to be a better representative for you in Washington. I really appreciate everyone who took the opportunity to talk with me, and I am looking forward to continuing to fight for issues that are important to the people who live and work in Alabama’s Second District.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.