By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
At a breakfast hosted by the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Doug Jones gave a speech about the main concerns he is facing from Washington and also here at home. He spoke about many predictable topics, such as the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination and healthcare in Alabama, but he also made the case for allowing more Democrats to the table in Alabama politics.
He began with what most media outlets have been asking him: has he made a decision on nominating Judge Bret Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court?
To which he gave the same reply that he has been making the past week and says he will stand by “come hell or high water.” He will not make a decision on Kavanaugh until he has seen all of the documents he needs and until the hearings are over.
He did want to stress to the crowd that he is not just another Democrat stalling another confirmation for a Trump appointed nominee, but that he really wants to make sure that this seat to the highest office of the judiciary in the land is filled with the right person.
When it comes to Kavanaugh’s confirmation though, Jones said that he is tired of seeing appointments like a seat on the Supreme Court being politicized as much as it has been this year.
“I think we’re in a really bad place in this country when the independent judiciary nominations is seen as a political campaign. I have seen my face on TV ad campaigns more now than I ever did during the campaign,” said Jones.
There are still documents that Democrats are calling for from Kavanaugh’s past work in the White House before any hearings are held, but Jones told the crowd of another factor that is keeping him from sharing his decision.
“In fact, there are some documents under current rules of the judiciary chairman that I can go look at but I can’t say anything about or share them publicly. I can’t talk about them with anyone and I can’t share them. And the chairman has threatened to expel me from the Senate, and that is just wrong,” Jones said.
Jones also sang the praises of his senior colleague in the Senate, Sen. Richard Shelby. Specifically, Jones credited Shelby for being responsible for the Senate passing the most appropriations bills in the Senate in 22 years.
He then moved on to issues facing the state such as funding for rural hospitals, rural access to broadband internet, and tariffs
“We are as much a part of the global economy as any state in the union and maybe more in so many way. Alabama is now the third largest state to export of automobiles in the U.S. The Automobile tariffs, the steel and aluminum tariffs are going to hurt this state,” said Jones.
“It’s not in my view a well thought out plan. It is simply a boisterous ‘make America great again’ plan that is hurting so many people.”
Jones attempted to strike a bi-partisan chord by pointing out that 90 of the 106 bills he has co-sponsored have support from both parties.
“We’re [Jones and Shelby] going to have a lot of votes that we don’t agree on just like those of you who are in this room, but now the interests of this state are now on both priority lists on both parties in the Alabama Senate,” said Jones.
Jones chose to end his remarks in an interesting and unexpected way – by discussing Russia’s attempt to influence 2016 election and their continued efforts to sow discourse in American politics.
Jones was critical of the Trump Administration’s response to the election interference and said it was wrong to conflate allegations Russian collusion with incidents like fake social media accounts and the hacking of the DNC email database.
“This whole thing with Russian interference in our election and our societal process is real. Don’t confuse the special counsel’s investigation with what is going on with Russian interference. Don’t confuse collusion with interference.”
Jones then referenced Nikita Khrushchev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, when he said he would take down the United States without ever firing a single bullet.
“He may be way ahead of his time if we are not careful and diligent folks,” Jones said.
“They are seeing this discord and it is dangerous. They are fanning the flames. Only we and we alone can stop it. We have to demand from our elected officials and leaders to be above it. To do more than simply call names, to do more than just sticking to our agendas. To do exactly what some of us are doing in Congress by reaching across the aisle and to have more dialogues than monologues.”