HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --- New Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones was one of two Democratic Senators who were invited to meet with President Donald Trump Monday in the Oval Office to discuss immigration policy and issues of interest to Alabama, Jones’ office said.
It was Jones’ first face-to-face meeting with the President, according to Jones’ spokesman.
“It was an opportunity for the Senator to discuss a number of issues he would like to see addressed including DACA, border and national security,” the spokesman said. “And to talk about Alabama's specific needs when it comes to infrastructure beyond roads and bridges, like fixing schools, rural broadband, and the sewage problems that many counties in the state face.”
Jones, who was elected in December to the seat formerly held by now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, arrived in Washington at an interesting time.
He voted last week on a continuing resolution that would have averted a government shutdown and was part of a bipartisan coalition that helped ensure a compromise that ended the shutdown Monday.
The vote ended the shutdown and authorized new funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, an issue Jones called for resolving during his campaign against Republican Roy Moore.
Jess Brown, WHNT News 19 political analyst, said Jones’ position in a closely divided Senate could help him play the role of someone who helps get deals done.
“He’s had two visible votes and he was politically prudent on both of them, and (Senate Minority Leader) Senator Schumer was smart enough to give him the flexibility to vote that way,” Brown said.
And, that flexibility was rewarded.
“Remember that already, in the last 72 hours, 48 hours, the new Senator from Alabama, the junior Senator, and one other Democrat, had an audience with the President of the United States in the Oval Office, as I understand it,” Brown said.
Jones is likely to face tough votes ahead, the new spending measure only lasts until Feb. 8, but Brown said it’s a solid start.
“If access is the first step to power, all I can say is that the new Democrat Senator from Alabama got an audience with the President of the United States and I would love to know the last time Richard Shelby had a personal audience with the President of the United States,” Brown said.
Shelby’s office said Alabama’s senior Senator has met with President Trump on a number of occasions, including a riding with the President to Huntsville on Air Force One.