HEFLIN — U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers said Wednesday there still has been no decision on the repair site for a new Army vehicle, and he suspects the work could be split between the Anniston Army Depot and a Texas depot.
Rogers, the Saks Republican who represents Alabama 3rd Congressional District, was in Heflin on Wednesday for a “Congress on Your Corner” event at Flora’s Table, a popular Heflin eatery.
“They still haven’t made a decision, which tells me they’re trying to figure out how to split the babies, what I think,” Rogers said.
The Anniston depot is in competition with the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas, for the lucrative repair work on the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
“We want all of it to come to Anniston,” Rogers said. “They’re trying to keep Red River alive, that depot out there, and what we think they’re gonna try to do is give part of it to Anniston and part of it to Red River,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he wants all of the repairs to be done in Anniston and is optimistic about the depot getting the work.
“They should have made a decision months ago, and the fact that they haven’t tells me they’re trying to figure out a way to keep from making me and Sen. (Richard) Shelby mad,” Rogers said.
Rogers talked about 15 minutes on topics ranging from border security and national defense to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference as patrons ate catfish and hamburgers.
Rogers said he was aggravated about the Mueller report.
“It took them 22 months and $30 million dollars to do what we knew all along, that there was no collusion going on ... I’m glad it’s done but it sure was a waste of time and money,” Rogers said.
“What we do know is Russia has been meddling in elections around the world for decades. The way they meddled in our election was to spend about $20 million dollars for social media ads,” Rogers said.
The Mueller report, on its first page, says that the “Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” The report’s introduction describes a Russian social media campaign favoring then-candidate Donald Trump, as well as Russian hacking operations against the Hillary Clinton campaign. The report found no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired in or coordinated with those efforts.
Rogers said he was aggravated that “our president” had been distracted for two years by Mueller’s investigation.
Rogers said he went with the president three weeks ago to California to inspect the new fencing on the border between U.S. and Mexico.
“Y’all haven’t seen it. That’s part of the main reason he went down there was to focus America’s attention on the crisis at the border but also what he’s trying to do about it,” said Rogers.
“The new fencing is 30 feet tall, razor wire at the top, goes in the ground about 8-10 feet, but you can see through it,” Rogers said, adding that the new structures are not a solid barrier.
Rogers said that there are no arguments that fencing works.
Only 300 miles of the Pacific border has the fencing according to Rogers.
“We’ve just got to get a lot more of it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said that besides fencing there are other ways to keep the estimated 4,000 immigrants from crossing in to the U.S. each day including more border patrol agents, ground sensing technology and aerial surveillance. (The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency reported a record 103,492 apprehensions along the Southwest border in March, an average of about 3,338 per day.)
Rogers said that some of the younger child immigrants arrive in poor health after a very dangerous journey.
“We wind up finding a way to get them in a hospital, try to get them some health care, and you’re paying for all that,” Rogers said.
“No one with a straight face can deny we have a crisis at the border,” Rogers said.
Rogers then went on to tell the lunchtime crowd about how he wants to rebuild the military.
“These two wars we’ve been in for the last 15 years have just wore our people out, they’ve worn our equipment out. We can’t fix it anymore, we’ve got to replace it,” Rogers said.
The congressman said the new federal budget includes a dramatic increase in defense spending for two years.
Rogers told the patrons about the Trump administration’s move to establish a new military service commonly called “space force.”
“This is not about Star Trek, trying to put people in space,” Rogers said. “It’s about protecting our national security satellites.”
Rogers said that people depend on their smartphones like the military depends on satellites to fight wars. He said that that China and Russia have developed “offensive capabilities” to take out U.S. satellites.
“You may think that the GPS that you use to find a restaurant or to get from another place was put up there for your smartphones. Those GPS satellites are all military satellites; we just let y’all use them,” Rogers said.
Rogers said GPS is used by the military to guide missiles and help position troops.
Rogers opened up the floor for questions, but no one spoke.
Rogers then went on to talk about fellow freshman members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar and how they’re pushing the Democratic Party more to the left than the party wants to be.
Rogers said that the two are socialists and “proudly talk about socialist positions on things.”
After Rogers spoke he had lunch with Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith and Tanya Maloney, the city’s economic developer.
When asked about Ranburne High School’s baseball team making it to the second round of the state high school playoffs he said it was “awesome.”
“I hope they win the state championship so I get to give them a resolution,” Rogers said.