Byrne reflects on successes and disappointments as a congressman

Alabama News

He leaves office next week after representing Lower Alabama for more than seven years

FAIRHOPE, Ala (WKRG) — Bradley Byrne has wrapped-up seven plus years in Washington and he says he can see the biggest impacts of his work in Congress back in Mobile.

He says his number-one accomplishment may be the status of Mobile’s largest industrial employer.

“It’s not easy to make sure Austal isn’t hurt in this competition over which defense projects get money,” Byrne says. “That was a fight we fought every day.”

Austal is nearing the end of its contracts for the aluminum high speed vessel and littoral combat ship, but Byrne says its future is secure with the recent announcement that it will begin making steel ships 

“Austal’s got a great future with the Navy,” Byrne said. “This new 30 year ship plan that just came out from the Navy is right in their sweet spot.”

Nearby Airbus is another point of pride for Byrne. He says removing tariffs was key to brokering Airbus’ deal with Canadian firm Bombardier and the development of the A220 production line in Mobile. 

Other major accomplishments listed by Byrne: 

  • work with the FAA to help Mobile eventually move its commercial airport to Brookley
  • work on red snapper regulations that protect the species but promote tourism and activity for sportsmen
  • opening the long awaited new Veterans Administration Health Center in Tillman’s Corner

“They may not seem like the romantic stuff but that’s the bread and butter stuff that really matter when you’re a member of congress to the people you represent,” Byrne said.

Byrne’s greatest regret is the stalemate that stopped construction on a desperately-needed new Mobile River Bridge and I-10 Bayway. Byrne says available federal funding and regulatory approval could soon disappear and that state and local officials, at odds over a proposed bridge toll, need to quickly figure out their end.

“I don’t think it’s dead yet but the window on all of this is closing rapidly, and the federal money there, we’ll lose,” Byrne said. “So they have to get their act together on that.”

Overall, Byrne says he’s proud of his time in office. He hopes his constituents are proud of him as well. He says he will  miss serving them.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult. I never thought I would enjoy that job as much as I did. I never thought it  would grab a hold of me like it did.”

Byrne says he now regrets giving up his seat to run for U.S. Senate. He discusses that in Part I of our interview. Click here to see it.

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