Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said she was given a platform to be a stronger advocate for Alabama's military community, including being a booster of bringing the F-35A fighter jet to Montgomery, through her committee assignments in the new Congress.
Roby will partly be in charge of deciding the country's military budget as a member of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee.
"Having a seat at this table affords me the opportunity to fight for our military men and women, and to ensure that when we send our men and women into harm's way that they have everything that they need," she told AL.com.
The four-term congresswoman also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, where she said she would focus on addressing sex trafficking, immigration and border security. It's unusual for a member of the Appropriations Committee to be seated on another committee, but House leadership asked Roby to handle the additional assignment.
"At this critical time for our country, we have asked Martha Roby to serve on the Judiciary Committee while continuing her service on the Appropriations Committee," House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement last month. "Balancing this workload is not easy, but I have every confidence Martha will make important contributions on both committees. I am grateful that she has agreed to take on this additional role."
Roby's district has a large military presence with Fort Rucker and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. The district is also adjacent to the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, which is on the military's short list of Air National Guard sites to be a base for the F-35A. Roby said she met with the secretary of the Air Force and the branch's chief of staff to make the case to bring the F-35A to Dannelly Field.
Before the F-35 had even fired a bullet, dropped a bomb or launched a missile in the line of duty, the $1.5 trillion Joint Strike Fighter aircraft had already been at the center of intense political dog fights since its inception 20 years ago. Yet despite a catalogue of high-profile failures in production and Congressional detractors, politicians are scrambling to have the multirole fighter based in their state, including Alabama Representative Martha Roby.
"With Maxwell and Fort Rucker in our district, and other numerous military installations throughout the state, I'm really grateful and excited" to be on the committee, Roby said, adding that the possibility of the F-35A coming to Montgomery is "an exciting prospect" to upgrade from the Cold War-era F-16.
With a seat on the Judiciary Committee, Roby said she wants to tackle illegal immigration and its impact on other issues when immigration laws aren't enforced, such as sex trafficking.
"I'm particularly looking forward to have more involvement on the immigration issue," she said.
President Trump largely based his campaign on immigration, vowing to build a wall on the border with Mexico. While the administration received criticism for suggesting levying a 20 percent import tax on Mexican goods to make Mexico pay for the wall, there are no concrete plans yet for how to pay for it or how to construct it.
Roby said she's a strong proponent of border security and she would support a plan "whether it's a physical wall or a virtual wall or increased security measures."
"My job is to continue to insist we have a secure border," she said.
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