U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl encouraged COVID-19 vaccination, discussed the Afghanistan withdrawal and touted Mobile-centric portions of the $3.5 trillion national budget at a virtual Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday morning.
At a Forum Alabama event, Carl said he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus and believes the disease is a real threat.
“I encourage everyone to take the shots, but if you don’t want to take the shots and take on that personal risk that’s fine too,” he said. “I think we’ve got to learn to live with it.”
In Washington D.C., Carl said, more and more lawmakers are showing less caution when it comes to the disease.
“COVID fear is much stronger here than in D.C.,” he said. “I never thought I’d see that.”
Mobile and the Gulf Coast region had seen spikes in the disease and hospitalizations recently. Numbers of cases and hospitalizations just began to decrease earlier this week. Alabama’s vaccination rate also lags behind most areas, including D.C. In the nation’s capital, 58 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. In Alabama, the number of those fully vaccinated is less than 40 percent. In addition to D.C., 58 percent of Virginians are vaccinated, while 62 percent of Maryland’s population has received all vaccine doses.
On the country’s withdrawal from its longest war ever in Afghanistan, Carl remained mostly positive. But speaking as the father of a Marine who fought in the conflict, he did take a shot at President Joe Biden on the military’s departure.
“We all wanted out of Afghanistan,” Carl said. “The way we pulled out with no plan was the biggest issue.”
Congressional Republicans, Carl said, have a “punch list” of things they’ve asked the Defense Department following the departure. Carl said members want to see what the plan was for the pull out, what equipment was left behind, a list of people immigrating to the country and a plan to move forward.
Carl also mentioned the $3.5 trillion budget proposal, which he seemed to suggest would be voted out of the House and would eventually make its way to the Senate. The proposal would get no Republican support in the House, but Carl did tout that the plan would include two more Austal ships.
“It will give them more time before coming into the steel hull market,” Carl said of one of Mobile’s largest employers.
Democrats seem to be fractured when it comes to the budget proposal, Carl said, with the more progressive wing of the party in the House pushing to approve the budget and the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan together. Carl said more moderate Democrats who won close elections in 2020 will push back against a $5 trillion package.
“We will pass something,” he said. “Something will go to the Senate and the Senate will splice it up.”
On the subject of shipbuilding, Carl said he’s been in active discussions with a general over bringing the steel hulls of ships no longer used by the Navy to Mobile for recycling and reuse.
“I want those ships here,” he said. “I want to send that steel up the Mobile River and make it into new steel.”
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here