Jones: Don't ex­pect him to al­ways side with Se­nate Democrats

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By HOPE YEN

WASH­ING­TON - Demo­crat Doug Jones, who won elec­tion to the Se­nate from staunchly Repub­li­can Alabama, in­sisted to both par­ties in po­lit­i­cally di­vided Wash­ing­ton Sun­day that he'll leave “all the op­tions on the table” when it comes to his votes next year on is­sues from im­mi­gra­tion to in­fra­struc­ture.

“I'm go­ing to con­sider any­thing,” said Jones, ex­plain­ing that he doesn't plan on la­bel­ing him­self a pro­gres­sive or a con­ser­va­tive Demo­crat but a “Doug Jones Demo­crat.'' (SEE, HAMALUDIN OPIN­ION ON 4A)

In an early sign, Jones re­it­er­ated that he would op­pose spend­ing money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­sists upon, and ex­pressed con­cern that a sweep­ing GOP tax cut pro­posal that was on track for ap­proval this week was be­ing “plopped into a vote too quickly.” At the same time, Jones said peo­ple should not “ex­pect me to vote solidly for Repub­li­cans or Democrats.”

The 63-year-old for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney made clear he's ready to move for­ward even though his Repub­li­can op­po­nent in last Tues­day's spe­cial elec­tion, Roy Moore, has yet to con­cede the race. “Alabama has spo­ken,” Jones said. “I will be ready to go re­gard­less of whether he con­cedes or not.''

Jones' elec­tion will cut the Repub­li­cans' Se­nate ma­jor­ity to 51-49, when he takes of­fice in early Jan­uary.

White House leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor Marc Short said the ad­min­is­tra­tion was ea­ger to see whether Jones will ac­tu­ally work to rep­re­sent the peo­ple of Alabama'' in a bi­par­ti­san way or side with lib­eral Democrats. Trump has also urged Moore to con­cede the race.

“We hope that frankly Doug Jones will help us change the cli­mate here in Wash­ing­ton,” Short said. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump chas­tised Jones as a lib­eral who would be “ter­ri­ble'' on crime and bor­der se­cu­rity, and a “pup­pet” for Se­nate con­gres­sional lead­ers.

But on Sun­day, Jones down­played Trump's ear­lier crit­i­cism as state­ments made “in the heat of a cam­paign,” and de­scribed the pres­i­dent's con­grat­u­la­tory call after the elec­tion as “very gra­cious.” “I'm go­ing to be look­ing at is­sues on both sides,” he said.

Jones de­feated Moore, by 20,000 votes, or 1.5 per­cent, to be­come the first Demo­crat elected to rep­re­sent Alabama in the Se­nate in a quar­ter-cen­tury. He was lifted by African-Amer­i­can vot­ers, in­de­pen­dents and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans who turned out to re­ject Moore, who faced newly raised al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct in­volv­ing teenage girls decades ago.

Mak­ing his first Sun­day talk show ap­pear­ances since his win, Jones said he looked for­ward to meeting with Trump and be­lieved his own man­date was to avoid rigid par­ti­san po­si­tions in fa­vor of com­pro­mise and “get­ting things done,” even if meant com­ing across as “pure piein-the-sky” and some­times dis­ap­point­ing some of his core con­stituents.

On the one hand, Jones said that he doesn't think Trump should re­sign over sex­ual mis­con­duct claims, as some Democrats are call­ing for.

But sid­ing with con­gres­sional Democrats, Jones made clear he wants to help de­vise safe­guards for im­mi­grants brought to the coun­try il­le­gally as chil­dren, but with­out fund­ing for a bor­der wall. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion program which pro­vided those pro­tec­tions, the De­ferred Ac­tion on Child­hood Ar­rivals program is set to ex­pire in March.

“I have said be­fore that I op­posed the build­ing of a wall. I think that's an ex­pense that the tax­pay­ers just don't have to in­cur be­cause I do think you can in­crease bor­der se­cu­rity with­out hav­ing to go to the in­cred­i­ble ex­pense of build­ing that wall,” Jones said. Re­fer­ring to a broader im­mi­gra­tion over­haul that would likely in­volve ques­tions of a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for im­mi­grants liv­ing here il­le­gally, he said: “I think it's go­ing to be very com­pli­cated. ...I'm not as sure it's as im­por­tant as health care and some other things right now.”

He pointed to fix­ing roads and bridges, a priority of Trump's, as a bi­par­ti­san is­sue that could ben­e­fit Alabama. “Let's get on with the real is­sues that are fac­ing peo­ple of this coun­try right now,” Jones said.

Jones ap­peared on “Fox News Sun­day” and CNN's “State of the Union.” Short was on NBC's “Meet the Press.”


U.S. Se­na­tor, Elect, Doug Jones


On elec­tion night, Doug Jones af­firms his elec­tion by "the peo­ple."

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