Sen. Strange announces appointment to Ag Committee; addresses health care

By David Palmer 

Cullman Times

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, during a visit to Cullman’s Strawberry Festival Saturday, said he is committed to repealing Obamacare.

Strange also announced his appointment to Agriculture Committee and spoke of the upcoming farm bill this year.

The Senate now has a package of health care measures passed by the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at unraveling former President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.

“I strongly support repealing Obamacare,” Strange said during an interview at the Festhalle. “I’m glad the House passed it. What I want to do is make sure premiums are affordable. That was one of the big problems with the Affordable Care Act.”

Strange also turned his attention to farm issues, noting he is the first senator from Alabama to gain an appointment to the Agriculture Committee since the late U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin of Tuscumbia. Heflin was a longtime member of the committee and was recognized nationally for his efforts on behalf of farmers.

“Every five years there is a new farm bill and this is the year,” Strange said. “There will be a lot coming forward that affects areas such as Cullman County with its wide range of farms. One thing is cotton, it’s taking a beating, so we’ve got to look closely at what needs to be done. I know, here, and across our state poultry and row crops are vital. We’ll have a lot of work to do in producing the new farm bill.”

Alabama is rated the state’s top agricultural county, producing poultry, eggs, sweet potatoes, beef and other products.

Strange, the former Alabama Attorney General, accepted an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat from former Gov. Robert Bentley after Jeff Sessions was tapped to become U.S. Attorney General by President Donald Trump in February. Strange was criticized by some state lawmakers for accepting the post while his office had indicated it was investigating Bentley.

The former governor had set the Senate election for 2018, but his successor, Gov. Kay Ivey, moved up the date to Dec. 12 this year for the general election and Aug. 15 for the primary. A runoff, if necessary, would be Sept. 26.

Asked about how he will address concern about accepting the Senate post, Strange said he has not been asked about it frequently.

“I was already running before the appointment was made. That intent was known,” Strange said. “I’m proud of the team I put together and the things we accomplished in cleaning up crime and corruption and in Montgomery.”

Strange was attorney general when former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was indicted and convicted on 12 felony ethics violations. He was sentenced to a total of four years in prison, eight years on probation and ordered to pay a $210,000 fine.