The Birmingham Business Alliance recently invited U.S. Senator Luther Strange to speak with BBA Executive Committee members about his priorities in Washington, D.C., and provide insight into current policy issues that stand to impact Birmingham businesses, such as tax reform, infrastructure spending and health care. Following the meeting, the BBA sat down with Sen. Strange to talk about his work in Congress. This is the first in a series of Q&As to come with our legislative delegation.
BBA: How can Alabama best prepare to meet the needs of an infrastructure spending bill, if one is announced this fall?
Strange: We’re already beginning to see that the scope of President Trump’s infrastructure plan will be truly comprehensive. Whether it’s maintaining passable sea channels or revamping transit and highway systems, several unique sectors of Alabama industry are going to see new potential for strong public-private partnerships. [The BBA knows] better than anyone just how important transportation infrastructure improvements would be in attracting future investment to the Birmingham area. In the Senate, I’m working hard to make sure that Alabama gets its fair share of infrastructure funding because with it comes jobs and the groundwork for further investment.
BBA: What are your top legislative priorities in regard to economic growth for the state of Alabama and the Birmingham region in particular?
Strange: Building on my experience as Attorney General, I’m committed to putting the innovators and job creators of our state first. During the Obama administration, I pushed back against the EPA’s regulatory wet blanket and kept government off the backs of Alabama’s small businesses. As Senator, I’m working with President Trump to revitalize American manufacturing, fast-track infrastructure projects, and create a tax structure that encourages businesses to plant roots and create jobs here at home.
My career outside public service has been directly focused on economic development and helping create the conditions for businesses like [the ones you represent] to thrive. The law practice I began in Birmingham was awarded a first-tier “Best Law Firm” ranking by U.S. News in 2010, and was one of the “Top Ten Law Firms that Understand Economic Development” in Southern Business & Development Magazine. I understand the regulatory challenges that come with making a business successful in Birmingham, and I’m putting this experience to work in Washington.
BBA: Talk a little about the current political atmosphere in Washington, D.C.
Strange: I arrived in the Senate at a critical time in our nation’s history. After eight years of a White House that circumvented Congress whenever it could, there is
restored optimism for the voice of the American people and the future of our economy. My colleagues and I are working with an administration that is eager to revitalize the American job market, roll back red tape, and restore the rule of law. This summer promises to be an especially busy time as we work toward a health care solution that puts patients first.
BBA: You currently serve on the following committees: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Armed Services; Budget; and Energy and Natural Resources. How is your service on these committees important to Alabama?
Strange: I was very fortunate to succeed Jeff Sessions on the Armed Services and Budget Committees, where I’m able to advocate for Alabama’s role in rebuilding our military and pushing the boundaries of space exploration. I’m honored to work in tandem with Senator Richard Shelby’s leadership on the Appropriations Committee to make sure Alabama always has a seat at the table.
As the first Alabamian on the Agriculture Committee since Howell Heflin, I am in a unique position to be the voice of our state’s largest industry as we begin to develop the 2018 Farm Bill. My membership on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee allows me to draw on years of experience in the energy sector to shape a regulatory framework that encourages innovation and domestic energy independence and security, driven by the abundant resources present in Alabama and offshore.
BBA: As a member of the Budget Committee, what role will you play in the process of approving or amending the President’s proposed budget?
Strange: Working through the President’s budget proposal is one of the biggest responsibilities facing me and my colleagues in the Senate right now. You can see the beauty of our Constitution and the genius of the founding fathers in the fact that no one person gets to decide how taxpayer dollars are spent. There are a lot of competing voices asking for a lot of different things, but I am confident that Alabama will be well-positioned once Congress finalizes our nation’s spending priorities to lead the way on everything from defense to infrastructure and health care research.