Alabama’s senior U.S. senator updated the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce today about domestic and foreign issues facing both the Senate and the United States. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, gave his perspective on politics, economics, national defense, energy security, and regulations at a Chamber Eggs and Issues breakfast that was co-sponsored by the Business Council of Alabama.
Shelby has been in the U.S. Senate for 29 years and is one of its most powerful and influential members. He chairs the Senate Banking Committee.
Shelby said that small and mid-size banks, the backbone of much local business lending, need fewer regulations. He said his priorities as chairman include reducing regulations, which “increase the cost of doing business.”
Smaller banks that loan money for businesses at the local level were the victims of overregulation from Washington. “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” Shelby said.
On politics, Shelby remarked that both the U.S. House and Senate have been controlled by Republicans since the 2014 general election but the 2016 presidential and congressional elections will be equally as important to the GOP since the White House is not occupied by a Republican.
“(2016) is going to be an interesting and expensive year … and it will be an important year for Washington and Alabama,” said Shelby, who makes it a practice to visit all 67 Alabama counties at least once each year.
Alabama has significant military bases that contribute to national defense, which Shelby said will remain strong if he has anything to do about it. He remarked that the Gunter Annex of the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base in Montgomery will be a major player.
“National security is the No. 1 goal in the U.S.,” he said. “Cyber security has to play a big role.”
The Gunter Annex Gunter Annex’s Business and Enterprise Systems provide and support secure combat information systems and networks for the U.S. Air Force, and federal agencies.
Shelby said he favors robust world trade and he supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that will pipe Canadian oil sands to U.S. Gulf coast refineries. “More refining on the Gulf coast will result in cheaper gas,” Shelby said.
He said he hopes that the Senate can pick up 13 votes needed to override President Obama’s expected veto of Keystone pipeline legislation, which passed the House and Senate earlier this year.
“We need to build it, we will build it,” Shelby said.