President Donald Trump administered the oath of office Thursday to former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Mobile after his Wednesday Senate confirmation as U.S. Attorney General.
“He’s a man of integrity, a man of principle and a man of total, utter resolve,” Trump said. “That resolve is what we need right now. America faces many challenges, it faces the threat of rising crime and the threat of deadly terror. But it will get better.”
The Senate voted 52-47 to confirm the Selma native and former Eagle Scout as the nation’s top prosecutor. (Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby voted for Sessions, who voted “present” on his own nomination.)
“We congratulate General Sessions on his confirmation to this important cabinet position,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said. “General Sessions is a remarkable individual and an honorable public servant who withstood weeks of unwarranted and libelous abuse by opponents of President Trump.
“The 52 senators who voted to confirm General Sessions are to be commended for rejecting the negativity that pervades Washington culture to the detriment of the wishes of Americans who seek adherence to the law, good jobs, and security for their families,” Canary said.
Sessions is the first Alabamian to serve as U.S. Attorney General.
Governor Robert Bentley appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to fill Sessions’ unexpired term that will end in January 2019.
BCA Chairman Jeff Coleman, president and CEO of Coleman Worldwide Moving in Dothan, congratulated both General Sessions and Sen. Strange, R-Birmingham.
“On behalf of the Business Council of Alabama, I congratulate Luther Strange on his appointment to the U.S. Senate,” Coleman said. “Today is an historic day for the state of Alabama with the first native Alabamian sworn in as United States Attorney General. Our state and nation are certainly greater for his service. I thank Gov. Bentley for his swift action in making this Senate appointment to ensure that Alabama continues to have a vote in the U.S. Senate. Our hope is that Sen. Strange will continue the efforts of Sen. Sessions regarding state’s rights and working to advance opportunities for job creation with a focus on improving our infrastructure system.”
Sessions graduated from Montgomery’s Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama School of Law. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1973 to 1986 and was a practicing attorney, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Mobile, and was nominated and served 12 years as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in 1981.
Sessions was elected Alabama attorney general in 1994 and U.S. Senator in 1996. He was reelected three times.
The last Alabamian to be appointed to the U.S. Senate was Jeremiah Denton in 1981. He had already won election and was appointed to fill the unexpired term of one day of U.S. Sen. Donald Stewart who Denton defeated in the 1980 election. Stewart resigned to give Denton seniority in the Senate class of 1981.
BCA SIGNS SUPPORT FOR BETSY DEVOS FOR U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
The Business Council of Alabama signed a national letter of support sent to U.S. senators urging confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary, which the Senate did 51-50 on Tuesday.
Alabama U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby voted for DeVos who is a champion of school choice for parents in failing schools. Vice President Mike Pence, the president of the Senate, voted in the affirmative to break a 50-50 tie.
“Betsy DeVos is an undisputed champion of families and students,” the letter stated. “For nearly 30 years she has devoted time and resources to improving education options for our nation’s children. Yet millions still languish in failing schools in an education system more than a century old. She embraces innovation, endorses accountability and – most especially – trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests. She also believes in providing every parent with the resources and choices to pursue those decisions.”
The letter coincided with National School Choice Week that promotes parental school choices that helps switch children in failing public schools to other public or private schools of their choosing. The BCA supports school choices that give parents options to seek the best education for their children no matter where they live.
The New York Times recently published an article about wealthy Manhattanites and their adequate public schools just blocks from inner-city Harlem schools where parents have few ways to escape them. “And neither the Education Department nor the district superintendent has put forth a comprehensive plan for how to lift the Harlem schools’ academic performance,” The Times reported.
NATIONAL COALITIONS URGE SUPPORT FOR REGULATORY ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
The Business Council of Alabama has signed a multi-industry letter urging the Senate to pass the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.
The letter sent to the Senate received enthusiastic support from a broad coalition of 616 co-signers from all 50 states. “This wide-ranging support is critical in impressing upon the Senate that they have the unique opportunity to bring change to the outdated way agencies adopt the most costly rules,” the BCA’s national partner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said.
The House recently passed the RRA with a bipartisan vote of 238-183. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, was the sole Alabama House member to vote no on final passage.
“We believe that federal regulations should be narrowly tailored, supported by strong and credible data and evidence, and impose the least burden possible, while implementing congressional intent,” the letter urged. “Now is the time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional legislative authority by ensuring agencies implement congressional intent, not the intent of the agency.”
The RAA stands for good governance and getting rules right by bringing transparency, accountability, and integrity to the rulemaking process at federal agencies, the Chamber said.
DAKOTA PIPELINE GETS GO-AHEAD; ‘ENVIRONMENTAL’ PROTESTERS LEAVE TONS OF TOXIC GARBAGE
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took another step toward national energy independence and against governing-by-fiat when it received approval to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline where site protesters polluted the environment with tons of toxic material.
The Trump Administration took less than three weeks to authorize the project that ex-President Obama delayed for nearly eight years. Approval by the Trump Administration means that the era of arbitrary political interference with private infrastructure projects is over, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement Tuesday that will allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, the Journal reported. The easement means that construction of the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline can proceed.
The pipeline had been held up for months by protesters who claimed they opposed disturbing the area’s pristine natural resources: They actually opposed extracting fossil fuels from the ground and the Obama Administration indulged them in its final days, the Journal reported.
At makeshift squatter encampments, protesters left enough garbage to fill an estimated 250 trucks with detritus frozen in the environment that, if not removed, will leach toxic sludge into the nearby Cannonball River and Lake Oahe in the spring thaw. Protesters said one of their objections was the pipeline would pollute Lake Oahe. The Journal questioned whether the protesters, who destroyed 50 acres of grass should pay to “clean up their own mess.”
U.S. MARKETS HIT ALL-TIME HIGH AFTER TRUMP’S TAX CUT PROPOSAL
Stocks surged past 20,100 for the first time Thursday after President Trump signaled a plan for lower taxes, news that rebounded through board rooms and investors’ decisions. During his campaign, Trump proposed lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, 20 percentage points below the current 35 percent, the developed world’s highest rate.
President Trump also told airline executives he will reduce regulations and fund infrastructure upgrades, enabling more hiring. President Trump said he would soon make an announcement that would be “phenomenal in terms of tax.”
After the news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 138 points, or 0.7 percent, to 20,192. The S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.7 percent. Shares of financial companies rose as well as did the dollar.
“Stocks are ripping because of President Trump’s comments,” said R.J. Grant, director of equity trading at KBW Inc., who said he noticed a pickup in the S&P 500 and financial shares “almost exactly when those comments hit the tape,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Stocks have generally risen since Election Day as investors believe President Trump’s policies will be good for business. Since the recession of 2009, stocks did rise in but the economy and job creation lagged as investors facing heavy anti-growth and regulatory burdens by the previous administration put their money into equities, or kept it in bank accounts, rather than invest in business building and expansion.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Regulation Rule Could Mean Big Savings
FederalTimes (Cordell 1/31) “President Trump made good on one of his campaign promises on Jan. 30, signing an executive order that would require for every regulation proposed by federal agencies, two more current regulations would be eliminated. The move is seen as a way for the administration to scale back regulatory costs, and it has one example to look to for previous success: the United Kingdom.
“The British first placed controls on regulations 20 years ago with its Better Regulation Commission. The UK government found in 2005 that the cost of regulation equated to £100 billion, roughly 10-12 percent of its gross domestic product, and set about a process of cost-benefit analysis to determine how to reduce that cost through a ‘one in, one out’ approach.
Balancing the costs of those regulations is more integral than how many are taken off the books. A 2012 report from the UK’s National Audit Office examining the Better Regulation Executive found that from January 2011 to December 2012, the government reduced regulation costs to business by £848 million when adding 40 regulations, removing an additional 77 and identifying 68 regulations as ‘zero net cost’.