Congresswoman Sewell discusses State of the District

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

By: Adam Dodson

U.S. congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama’s 7th District, gave her State of the District Address on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The address was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Sewell used most of her speech to highlight issues and accomplishments that have been concerns for her over the course of her tenure, such as the economy and the state of health care. While certain issues remain in Alabama, Sewell is happy with the progress they have made and is optimistic for what the future holds.

“We have invested in our people, and while our work is far from finished, that investment has paid off,” Sewell said.

She went on to elaborate on Alabama’s successful ventures from the previous year.

For the economy, Sewell kept a positive tone. When she took office in 2011, the district’s unemployment rate nearly reached 14 percent. Now, it is at 6.6 percent.

At the end of 2017, Selma had a 6.3 percent unemployment rate, down 3.7 percent from the previous December.

She noted multiple key factors that have contributed to the economic upswing.

The 187th Air National Guard Unit in Montgomery now has the rights to house the newest F-35 fighter jet. According to Sewell, this will bring in $3 billion in new capital investment to the River Region.

The Mercedes Benz plant outside of Tuscaloosa announced a $1 billion investment to expand manufacturing electrical cars.

“For families in Alabama’s 7th District, that means 600 more job opportunities,” Sewell said.

Wilcox County, which has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.5 percent, received additional jobs when manufacturing company Golden Dragon of the Black Belt expanded their investments in copper-tubing facilities in the region.

Additionally, Sewell announced her intention to move her 6th annual Congressional Job Fair from Livingston to Montgomery in hopes of sparking further interest. Last year, the Livingston job fair saw 600 attendees from over 60 major employers.

While the economy has been steadily improving in all 67 counties, battles in the health care field have been won and lost. The Affordable Care Act was the centerpiece over political gridlock in Washington, while hospitals in rural parts of the state took a hit.

“I stand firm in my belief that healthcare should be a fundamental right for all Americans,” Sewell said. “This year, we successfully defeated a dangerous GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have left millions of Americans without access to health insurance and higher healthcare costs for all of us. In 2018, we will continue fighting all legislation aimed at decreasing coverage, reducing access, and raising costs on hard-working families.”

Although Sewell and the Democrats won the battle over the Affordable Care Act, the fight to preserve adequate health access for those living in rural communities continues.

Sewell and her team devoted a large portion of their efforts to fight to keep rural hospitals open, which includes John Paul Jones Hospital in Wilcox County. This rural hospital fought off closure after Sewell and other political leaders stepped in to help organize a partnership with UAB Hospital.

Selma also received a shout out during the address for their work in improving the health for rural residents.

“In Selma, USDA has announced a $1.1 million grant that will help to expand the Rural Health Medical Program, a community health center which has provided care for so many residents in the area,” Sewell said in her address. “These successes are the result of teamwork.”

Other facets of 2017 that Sewell thought were noteworthy include the $1.3 million of recovered funds that the federal government owed constituents and the $650 million secured in federal grants.

Despite the hard work, Sewell understands the need still remains.

“The state of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District is the strongest it has been since the Great Recession, but this is not a time to celebrate our victories, this is a time to build on our successes.”

To view a full transcript of Congresswoman Sewell’s address, go to https://sewell.house.gov/media-center.

To watch her address, visit her Facebook page at “Terri A. Sewell.”