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  • Projecting Power

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    U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne said the United States needs to play “big ball” overseas and that means a robust foreign policy.

    He suggested placing a Navy ship at every port in the Pacific; arming the Ukrainians in their struggle against Russian and pro-Russian forces; stop negotiating with Iran; putting boots on the ground in the war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS); and increase spending on the Defense Department.

    Speaking before at a Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues at the RSA Activity Center, Byrne, R-Montrose, said that China’s ambition “is to dominate the Asian mainland and push us out of the western Pacific. We have got to reassert ourselves in that part of the (world).”

    He recommended placing the Littoral Combat Ship, which is manufactured in his Mobile district, along with destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines at all ports in the Pacific “to project power in the Pacific.”

    Byrne warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thinks he is the next Peter the Great. He is going to re-establish the Russian empire.” Byrne said that Putin wants to take control of Ukraine, then Moldova; then Balkan states; Poland; Czech Republic; and Slovakia.

    “The only thing that stands between him and that ambition is us,” Byrne said. He called Putin ‘a classic bully’ and said “he (Putin) is one of those people you’ve got to punch in the nose before he’ll understand that he really is going to have to stay within his boundaries.”

    Byrne’s message became more critical when talking about the U.S. negotiating with Iran over a nuclear weapon and asking for help in fighting ISIS. He called the negotiations “shameful.” He said the Iranians “don’t understand negotiation – they understand force.”

    He said that it was a mistake for U.S. troops to leave Iraq because it “destabilized” the region. Byrne said that the U.S. needs to stop ISIS overseas “before they bring jihad to this country and detonate themselves with a suicide vest in one of our malls or knock out one of our oil pipelines or shut down our electrical grid or God forbid, find some kind of a dirty weapon they can use over here and have massive destruction. That’s the kind of people we’re dealing with.” He wants Congress to appropriately fund the armed forces.

    He said he is disappointed with U.S. allies not doing more in the war against ISIS, pointing out Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraqi army and Europe.

    Byrne, who was elected to Congress in December 2013 to complete the term of Rep. Jo Bonner, also served as a state senator and as chancellor of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.

    “America is a great country, but unfortunately we have not been acting like a great country,” Byrne said. “We’ve been playing small ball when for decades we’re used to playing big ball. There is a big difference between playing small ball and big ball. While America is playing our game like Alabama was playing against Arkansas, it’s time for America to start playing our game like Alabama played against Texas A&M.”

    For those non-college football fans living in the college football crazed state of Alabama, Byrne was referring to the University of Alabama’s 14-13 road win over Arkansas vs. a dominating 59-0 home win over Texas A&M.

    Byrne complained about spending on entitlement programs, specifically “welfare, Medicaid, food stamps and government housing assistance.” He said the country is spending $750 billion on those programs, which is 50 percent more than defense spending.

    “We are paying people not to work,” said Byrne, who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources. “We need to consolidate the programs.”

    He recommends giving block grants to states, which will do a better job than the federal government of taking care of people “who are truly in need.” He said the cost savings can be used to “not only balance the budget, but begin to pay down the debt.”

    Byrne pointed out that the Alabama Legislature, which he was part of, must approve and balance the budget. That is not the case with Congress, which has not passed a budget in five years because “we don’t want to face up to the hard decisions …”

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