Lawmakers Endorse Port of Mobile Project

Alabama’s Democrat and Republican House and Senate members have endorsed the modernization of the proposed Mobile harbor federal navigation channel, making it one of the largest development projects in Alabama.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, led the state’s combined legislative delegation’s letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in support of the project.

“The deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile will provide economic development opportunities throughout the entire state of Alabama,” Sen. Shelby said.

“Alabama is a trade state and the modernization of the Port of Mobile is key to our economic future,” Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, said.

U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Mike Rogers, R-Saks, and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, signed the letter of support.

“The Port of Mobile is critical to Southwest Alabama, but it plays just as important a role throughout the rest of our state,” said Rep. Byrne, whose district includes the channel.

The Port of Mobile operated by the Alabama State Port Authority is the 10th largest seaport in the United States and has been identified as the fastest growth container terminal in North America.

Due to increased vessel size and channel deficiencies, the Corps is surveying how best to deepen the channel’s average depth of 45 feet to 50 feet, incorporate bend easings in the bar channel, widen the bay channel from 400 feet to 500 feet for three nautical miles, and expand the Choctaw Pass turning basin to better accommodate large vessels. The review should conclude in November 2019.


NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine this week named veteran NASA manager Jody Singer as director of the agency’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. She has been acting director since the July retirement of Director Todd May and served as deputy director beginning in February 2016.

The 32-year NASA veteran is the first woman appointed as director of Marshall director, the space agency’s rocket and booster management center. As director, Singer leads one of NASA’s largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

“Her proven leadership abilities and close connections to Marshall’s work and the human spaceflight community made her the right choice to lead Marshall at this pivotal time,” Bridenstine said.

The Hartselle native and University of Alabama industrial engineering graduate began her NASA career in 1985 as an intern engineer. She has managed projects, programs, and workings of the NASA center.

“It’s honor to lead Marshall Space Flight Center as we push the boundaries of human space exploration and shape America’s return to the Moon,” Singer said. “Marshall has unique capabilities and expertise that are critical to missions that will take humans deeper into the solar system than ever before.”
Members of Alabama’s congressional delegation reacted.

“Her deep understanding of the Space Launch System and other critical NASA projects, along with her dedication to MSFC and the entire agency, make her the ideal candidate for this position,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, said Singer is the right person for the job at a time when space travel and security are increasingly gaining national attention. “Her appointment as the first woman in this important position is historic and will also serve as an inspiration to young women who are thinking about careers in the STEM field,” Sen. Jones said.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, congratulated Singer. Rep. Brooks, whose district includes the Marshall Center, serves as vice-chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Space Subcommittee.

“I look forward to working closely with Director Singer to maintain and expand Marshall’s role in current and future missions, and I am pleased to have a partner at Marshall dedicated to maintaining America’s global preeminence in space,” Rep. Brooks said.


The House voted 377-20 Thursday to send a package of three appropriations bills to President Donald Trump’s desk. It marks the first on-time delivery in a decade of one-fourth of the annual appropriations measures prior to the end of a fiscal year.

The bills were herded through the Senate appropriations process by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate passed the conference report on the three bills Wednesday on a 92-5 vote.

The $147.5 billion package funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Congressional operations, and is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be another nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

“I’m not exactly sure how close we are in wrapping these bills together and getting them to the floor of the House and Senate, but the sooner the better,” Sen. Shelby said during a conference meeting.


House Cancels Friday Votes Due to Hurricane Florence

The Hill (Brufke 9/13) “House GOP leaders on Thursday said they are canceling Friday votes as members brace for Hurricane Florence. ‘Members are advised that-upon passage of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R.5895-votes are no longer expected in the House tomorrow, Friday, September 14,’ the House majority whip’s office wrote in an email after the majority leader’s office informed lawmakers.

“Canceling votes will allow lawmakers time to return to their districts ahead of the storm, with the eye of hurricane expected to make landfall early on Friday. Lawmakers were slated to vote Friday on legislation that would modify the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which is expected to be taken up after members return from their one-week recess.”


Appropriators Have Deal to Keep Government Funded Into December

Roll Call Lesniewski (9/13) “House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced at a meeting of House and Senate conferees on the combined spending bill for Defense, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, that the conference report will include a continuing resolution through that date, for departments and agencies not otherwise funded.

“That means at least five full spending bills will be signed into law by President Donald Trump ahead of October 1, with the first bundle of three bills set to clear the House with adoption of a conference report Thursday afternoon.”


House and Senate Negotiators Agree on Water Infrastructure Bill

The Hill (Birnbaum 9/11) “Senate and House lawmakers on Monday night reached an agreement on a bipartisan water infrastructure bill that will reauthorize billions of dollars in federal spending on ports, harbors, and waterways as well as deauthorize inefficient spending on water projects.

“The water infrastructure bill (America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018) is one of three appropriations bills that lawmakers plan to pass this week in order to help avert or scale back a government shutdown in October. The water infrastructure bill requires re-authorization every two years.

“The 2018 version of the bill authorizes $4.4 million in funds for a safe drinking water program, Drinking Water State Revolving funds, which was last authorized 22 years ago.  The bill would also help reduce flooding risks for rural, western and coastal communities, according to the press release, an issue made more pressing in light of Hurricane Florence, the impending Category 4 hurricane set to hit the East Coast on Thursday or Friday.”