Katie Britt talks mental health, Israel, border at Shelby County Chamber luncheon

Published 4:19 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

PELHAM – U.S. Sen. Katie Britt delivered an address focused on issues of mental health, Israel, fentanyl and the border during a recent Shelby County Chamber Luncheon.

Britt delivered an address at the Pelham Civic Complex during The Shelby County Chamber’s Washington Update Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 3.

“It’s been an interesting 10 months to say the least,” Britt said. “It is actually 10 months to the day that I took the oath of office and the things I have seen and been a part of, if you had asked me 10 months ago, many of them I wouldn’t have imagined and certainly a lot of them I wouldn’t have hoped for.”

According to Britt, for the first time in six years, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed all 12 bills through the committee.

“That was something we were really proud of,” Britt said. “One of the things we have to do to get back to fiscal responsibility is actually pass these bills individually. We don’t control the senate, so we can’t dictate what’s brought there. But we’re really proud that we’re able to do that.”

During her address, Britt shared that as a member of the committee, she has had the opportunity to talk about a number of issues regarding mental health and her support for a new bill.

“I’m very proud of a social media bill that we’ve (put) together to protect our kids from big tech,” Britt said. “It’s a bill that is about eight pages long, it has an age verification component where you can’t be on social media until you’re 13.”

Most social media website recommend users be 13, but the bill would codify it into law with exceptions given for parental consent for ages 13-17.

“We came not as Republicans or Democrats but truly as concerned parents to try to solve a problem,” Britt said. “If your child is going to play soccer, you sign a permission slip. If your child is not going to ride the bus home from the basketball game and they’re going to ride with your best friend’s parents, you send an email.”

Britt compared the advent of social media with the recent increase in rates of depression among youth.

“If you just look at the number, you know doing nothing is not an option,” Britt said. “It directly coincides with the rise of social media.”

­The update luncheon was originally planned for Oct. 20 but was delayed so that Britt could have the chance to join a group of senators on a trip to Israel.

“I went with a group of bipartisan senators and listened and learned and heard things I thought I wouldn’t hear in my lifetime,” Britt said. “When we walked into every building, the immediate thing they showed us was where the bomb shelter was. It became real to me that this is actually the reality the people of Israel are faced with every single day.”

Britt shared a story of a three-year-old whose parents were both killed and whose siblings hid in a closet.

“We listened to stories about peoples’ brothers, sisters, moms and dads,” Britt said. “We must do everything in our power to get every single hostage back quickly and safely.”

During the luncheon, Britt discussed the domestic side of things and the shared frustration she believes Republicans feel.

“I think the frustration you feel particularly from Republicans is we see the nation and we just don’t recognize it anymore,” she said. “There are things that we took for granted that we grew up that our kids are growing up in a completely different way. I think what we have to realize is the way we’ve tried to fix this so far hasn’t worked, so we’ve got to have an approach that will ultimately save this country and the values the country was founded on which I believe are faith, family and freedom.”

Britt discussed current issues with the border and with migration.

“We’ve got to make sure that when we do spend dollars, that the dollars are spent in the right places,” Britt said. “One of the things, and I know that people don’t want to hear it, but it is barriers—physical and technological barriers. What that does is make our border patrol’s job better and easier, meaning they’re not spread across the entire width of our border. They’re actually able to see who’s coming, stop people who don’t need to be here versus us having all these known guideways that come through every crevice of our nation.”

Britt said that the U.S. needs to put more investment into interior enforcement and to put more money into detention beds.

“Some people may shudder when I say that, this is the reality,” she said. “We need to detain people when they come into the border. If we do that, on average they last about 38 days. When you detain them, you’re able to see and process their claim appropriately.”

Britt said that she believes the U.S. is a compassionate nation and that people who are truly seeking asylum should receive it.

“But that is not what we are seeing—we are seeing people claim asylum that have no cause or basis for that claim,” she said.

Britt discussed the dangers of fentanyl being trafficked into the U.S. before closing her address by expressing her gratitude.

“It really is the honor of a lifetime to get to represent this state that I believe in so much,” she said. “I believe we have a great state with great people and we have a great story to tell. And the fact that you all have entrusted me to go be your voice, to go fight for not just your kids but your grandkids, to fight for our values to fight for our state and to fight for our nation.”