ORANGE BEACH — U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) held a roundtable discussion at Cobalt Restaurant on Wednesday, where he spoke with local mayors, law enforcement, educators, state senators and state representatives about what is happening in Washington and how certain policies are impacting Alabamians.
“I think we need to do this quite often just to give the lay of the land and what’s happening federally in D.C.,” Tuberville said. “Which, lots of ups and downs, a lot of dissension, people not getting along. We’re $32 trillion in debt and kind of go to what we’re doing up there to try to help the people — not just in obviously, Baldwin County but all over the state — I represent everybody.”
Tuberville also listened to leaders in South Alabama who he said live in a "bubble" at times because of how great things are going there. However, he said that’s not the case everywhere and has ideas for improving things.
After the meeting, Tuberville was asked about the scrutiny he faced following his tweet supporting $1.4 billion in broadband funding that he previously voted against.
Broadband is vital for the success of our rural communities and for our entire economy.— Coach Tommy Tuberville (@SenTuberville) June 27, 2023
Great to see Alabama receive crucial funds to boost ongoing broadband efforts. https://t.co/bLvQlSS3LH
"It should've been more," Tuberville said. "A lot of this money that was taken in this bill is being used in certain areas for so-called 'climate change' and some of those things. If we're going to do something, let's do it right."
As a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Tuberville said he had seen the data suggesting more is needed to give Alabamians the internet access they deserve.
"It's not that I wasn't for it," he explained. "I was for more of the government getting involved and saying, 'Let's get this done for everybody."
Tuberville pointed out that not all the money will go to bringing the internet to rural areas, and it won't be enough to give hardworking Alabamians, such as farmers, the infrastructure they need to strive.
"If we're going to spend all this money, let's put it here in this country," he said. "A lot of that money that was passed in that same bill is not going to stay in this country, and I am for the United States of America first."
While the $1.4 billion is a good start, Tuberville said "we are already late to the dance, so it is time to catch up."
Tuberville also said he had issues with the so-called "Farm Bill."
"This year it's going to be $1.5 trillion," he said. "Maybe a little bit more, but only $100 billion of that goes to farmers. The other 1.4 goes to SNAP cards, food stamps, welfare. And so, it's really not a farm bill, per se, but we need to take care of farmers. And we need to take care of people that can't work on their own and are struggling, but that's way too much and that's where most of our money goes to seeing this debt skyrocketing, but there's no compromising on it because we've got the farmers in there. So, I'm going to vote for it because I'm for the farmers."
"There's nobody more important than our farmers right now," he added. Nobody because, as we speak, our farmers are struggling. Fuel prices are high. Fertilizer is high. They need the opportunity to run their irrigation systems the right way. Most of those things, the tractors, the combines, are run off internet now. So, they can go buy all these nice machines that will save them possibly two or three percent on their overhead, but not unless they have the internet."
Tuberville said inflation could lead some farmers to give up and sell out, which is the last thing he wants to see happen.
"We need small farmers in this country. Cattle farmers included, and foresters. We only have to feed 330 million people in this country. Jinping wakes up every day saying, 'How in the world do I feed 1.5 billion people?' What are they [China] doing? They're buying as much farmland in the United States as they can. I think they had 10,000 acres 12 years ago and today have over 370,000 acres that they've bought. We've got to stop that."
Tuberville said he's been watching the Gulf Coast area and intends to push back on regulations that could hinder progress in Baldwin and Mobile counties.
"There are so many things right now in the federal level that you kind of get blindsided every day by a new rule or regulation that they're trying to put in, in terms of our environment," said Tuberville. "We're all for the environment, but we're also for having an opportunity to survive and live and make this country continue to be the best place ever."
GOP Voting Strategy
Meanwhile, in Washington and across the nation, Tuberville said Republicans must change their mindset regarding voting. Traditionally, the GOP has championed a one-day voting process. However, he said now it's time to champion votes.
"How we vote, how we handle our voting, how we spend our money in campaigns, have a better ground game is kind of the consensus that we've all come to understand over the last election," he said. "We didn't win in the Senate because there was more money spent on the ground than what we had. We get outspent. Republicans get outspent almost 2:1. I don't know where all the money comes from but it's amazing how much money is spent on elections."
A course adjustment is necessary, the senator said, to have the success that Democrats have had.
Trusting the source
Tuberville said that voter fraud claims and disagreements over the origin of COVID and the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine have heightened tensions between political parties. Many GOP leaders have criticized the media and claimed liberal and progressive outlets are making their jobs much more difficult.
Tuberville said he hopes those sharing information strive to be balanced as more truth is revealed on some of the nation's most controversial topics. However, he wants outlets to be fair on their own and doesn't want to see the government stepping in.
"Just try to do as much as you possibly can to inform people," Tuberville said. "That's what I do. I talk to 'The New York Times,' 'The Wall Street Journal.' I talk to all of them and I tell them what I think. Sometimes it gets printed, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it gets spun a different way. So, there's not anything we can change. The information is out there and hopefully, people will get an opportunity to read both sides and they can decipher if they want to believe it or not but we don't want to stop free speech."
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