Morris Jackson "Mo" Brooks, Jr. (born April 29, 1954) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 5th congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Early life, education, and legal career
Brooks was born in 1954 in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, in 1963. His mother, Betty J. (Noland) Brooks, taught economics and government for over twenty years at Lee High School, while he attended Grissom High School. His father, Morris Jackson "Jack" Brooks, was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and worked as an electrical engineer before retiring from Redstone Arsenal's Meteorology Center. They still live in Madison County, Alabama.
Brooks graduated from Grissom High School in 1972. He graduated from Duke University in three years with a double major in political science and economics, with highest honors in economics. Brooks later received his J.D. degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1978.
Brooks started his legal career with the Tuscaloosa district attorney's office. Brooks left the Tuscaloosa district attorney's office in 1980 to return to Huntsville as a law clerk for presiding circuit court judge John David Snodgrass. During every year except when he was serving as a prosecutor or judicial clerk, Brooks was a practicing lawyer. In 1993, he became of counsel to the firm of Leo and Associates, a business law firm with a national focus, founded by Karl W. Leo. He became a partner in the firm which was reorganized as Leo & Brooks, LLC. He maintained a national practice that specialized in commercial litigation.
Early political career
In 1982, Brooks was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and was subsequently re-elected in 1983, 1986, and 1990. While in the legislature, Brooks was elected Republican house caucus chairman three times.
In 1991, Brooks was appointed Madison County district attorney. In 1992, he ran for the office, but lost to Democrat Tim Morgan. A Republican had not been elected to the office since the Reconstruction era.
In 1995–1996, Brooks was appointed special assistant attorney general for attorney general Jeff Sessions. From 1996 to 2002, he was special assistant attorney general for attorney general Bill Pryor.
In 1996, Brooks ran for the Madison County commission and unseated an 8-year incumbent Republican. He was reelected to the commission in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
In 2006, Brooks unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Alabama, coming in third place behind eventual nominee Luther Strange and former state treasurer George Wallace, Jr.
U.S. House of Representatives
Brooks won the Republican primary, receiving 51% of the vote, defeating incumbent (and former Democrat) Parker Griffith (33%) and conservative activist Les Phillip (16%).
Brooks was named a "Young Gun" by the Republican National Committee in 2010. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, and Real Clear Politics rated this race "Likely Republican". CQPolitics, Stuart Rothenberg, and the New York Times rated the race "Safe Republican". Nate Silver in the FiveThirtyEight.com New York Times blog predicted that there was a 94.1% chance that Brooks would defeat the Democratic nominee, Steve Raby.
In the general election, Brooks defeated Raby 58%–42%. He became the first freshman Republican to represent this district since Reconstruction.
In January 2012, Parker Griffith, having switched parties, filed for a rematch against Brooks in the Republican primary. He said of the incumbent, "We'll contrast my time in Congress with my opponent's time in Congress. The distinction is clear, he has wandered away from many of the issues people want us to address." Brooks carried the support of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum political action committee. Brooks defeated Griffith in the rematch 71%–29%, a landslide margin of 42 points. Brooks won all five of the counties. Griffith ran four points worse than he had in the 2010 primary.
Brooks has sponsored 19 bills of his own, 8 floor amendments, 3 resolutions, and 1 joint resolution, including:
- H.Con.Res.175, introduced along with Congressman Dan Lipinski, expressing that Congress and the President should prioritize the reduction and elimination of the overall trade deficit of the United States.
- H.R.2685, the TPS Reform Act, a bill to prevent the Executive Branch from continuously extending Temporary Protected Status, introduced November 17, 2016.
- H.R.4598, the American Jobs First Act, a bill reforming the H-1B visa program, a companion bill to Senator Ted Cruz's S.2394.
- H.R.4597, the ICE Agent Support Act, a bill supporting the removal of criminal aliens, including providing staffing levels within the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a companion bill to Senator Ted Cruz's S.2538.
- H.Amdt.422, an amendment to prohibit the use of funds to subsidize housing assistance for illegal aliens.
- H.Amdt.377 and H.Amdt.375, amendments to eliminate federal government subsidies of Amtrak.
- H.Amdt.219, an amendment to strip a particular provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, thereby preventing the Pentagon from considering allowing illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty into the military.
- H.R.3835, the Protecting America's Solvency Act, a bill supporting a balanced budget Constitutional amendment.
- H.R.3151, the Arrest Statistics Reporting Act, a bill requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to publish annually and make publicly available a report that includes, for each person arrested during the preceding year, the person's nationality and immigration status, and the offense for which the person was arrested.
- H.R.3039, the Providing Retaliation Options against Those Engaging in Cyberattacks Targeting the United States Act or PROTECT US Act, a bill which directs the President to submit to Congress a list of countries designated as state-sponsors of cyberattacks, and empowering the President to impose a trade-related penalty and take other actions, including assistance limitations, trade embargoes, and cyber counterattacks, with respect to those countries
- H.R.1034, a bill to provide for an accounting of total United States contributions to the United Nations.
- H.Res.11 and H.Res.757, resolutions providing for authority for the House to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States with respect to the implementation of the immigration laws.
- H.R.5023, the Veterans' Assistance to Lower Unemployment and Enhance VA Services Act or the VALUES Act, a bill which entitles disabled veterans and the mothers or spouses of certain deceased or disabled veterans to receive an additional 15 points on their examination for entrance into the competitive service at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- H.R.2458, a bill to terminate any Federal employee who refuses to answer questions or gives false testimony in a congressional hearing.
In 2012, the National Journal ranked him as the 75th most conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His district is in northern Alabama and is home to Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center.
Brooks opposes abortion and any stem cell research that uses human embryos. Brooks co-sponsored the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would have ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
In 2011, Brooks said that "Financial issues overshadow everything else going on in Washington. That one set of issues is sucking everything else out of the room."
Brooks supports reforming Social Security, including allowing individuals to invest some of their Social Security money in private retirement accounts. Brooks stated that he does not support the full privatization of Social Security, "because the stock market and many other investments are simply too volatile." Brooks also supports the plan proposed by Paul Ryan to shift Medicare from a publicly run program to one that is managed by private insurers.
Brooks is a signer of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Brooks supports the Fair Tax proposal.
While at a monthly breakfast meeting of the Madison County Republican Men's Club, Brooks referred to the jobs bill proposed by President Obama as the "Obama 'kill jobs' bill." He told the crowd that it adds to the debt, promotes "frivolous lawsuits," and creates new government agencies. He challenged the president's promotion of the bill saying, "If Barack Obama is serious about jobs, how about repealing Obamacare, dealing with illegal immigration and urging the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass pro-jobs bills that have already cleared in the House." At the same meeting, Brooks compared the recession of 2008 (and its after effects) with the Great Depression, saying that the problems associated with the Great Depression are "a cakewalk compared to what can happen to our country if we don't start acting responsibly in Washington, D.C., to try to get this deficit under control." Brooks believes that if the national debt of the United States continues to grow, the damage done to the nation will be catastrophic.
In 2010 Brooks signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity to not vote for any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.
In 2017 after Republican controlled Congress failed to repeal, Brooks stated on SiriusXM Patriot, “We have Republicans who do not want to repeal ObamaCare. They may have campaigned that way, they may have voted that way a couple of years ago when it didn’t make any difference.”
Brooks believes that "we cannot continue to be the world police." He has expressed disappointment that the U.S. military didn't leave Afghanistan immediately after the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.
He also has expressed his disapproval over NATO military actions in Libya that the United States has been involved in. He has stated, "I reject the president's position that the way to prevent Libyans from killing Libyans is by Americans killing Libyans." He voted against H.R. 2278 and, after voting, released this statement: "We should be out of Libya altogether, and not voting piecemeal on parts of the operation. While this bill excludes some operations in Libya, it approves many others. The lesson from Vietnam is that the one sure way to lose a war is by fighting it half-way."
Brooks opposed the Electrify Africa Act of 2013 (H.R. 2548; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the President to establish a multiyear strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa develop an appropriate mix of power solutions to provide sufficient electricity access to people living in rural and urban areas in order to alleviate poverty and drive economic growth. At a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Brooks said "American taxpayers spend more than $40 billion per year on foreign aid... Given America's out-of-control deficits and accumulated debt that threaten our economic future, I cannot justify American taxpayers building power plants and transmission lines in Africa with money we do not have, will have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back."
Brooks is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and has said that the committee that passed it didn't understand it. He signed the Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" pledge that stated that upon his election to Congress that he would "sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government." He was also endorsed by the website Defundit.org for his stance on the health care reform bill. Brooks co-sponsored H.R. 127, which would have removed all funding from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and any amendments made by either act.
In March 2017, Brooks said that he would note vote in support of the American Health Care Act, the GOP's plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Brooks said, "I will vote against the American Health Care Act because it has more bad policy than any bill I have ever faced."
Immigration reduction organization NumbersUSA ranks Brooks as the highest-ranking Member in the entire Congress, with a perfect 100% score.
On May 14, 2015, Brooks successfully passed an amendment which removed language in the National Defense Authorization Act that sought to assist members of the United States Military in obtaining legal stautus.
Brooks is opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. As part of his 2010 campaign, he advocated getting the federal government "out of the way so state and local governments can help solve the problem." He also advocated making it "unprofitable" for employers to hire illegal immigrants over American citizens. In an interview in 2014, he stated that "8 million undocumented workers, 500,000 young immigrants should be deported".
Brooks has been endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI), a political action committee (or PAC).
Brooks has sponsored or cosponsored 112 immigration-related bills since taking office in January 2011. Brooks also has stated that he feels Congress will probably do nothing about illegal immigration in the coming years.
On June 29, 2011, in an interview with reporter Venton Blandin of WHNT-TV, Brooks was asked by Blandin to repeat what he had previously stated at a town hall meeting about illegal immigrants. Brooks repeated his previous statement, saying, "As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them. Anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens."
In a radio interview with the Will Anderson Radio Show, Brooks stated his opposition to undocumented immigrants serving in the military, saying, "These individuals have to be absolutely 100 percent loyal and trustworthy, as best as we can make them, ‘cause they’re gonna have access to all sorts of military weaponry—even to the point of having access to weapons of mass destruction like our nuclear arsenal. And I’m gonna have much greater faith in the loyalty of an American citizen than a person who is a citizen of a foreign nation."
Brooks said Birmingham, a city where Alabama's strict immigration law has been criticized, needed to prepare to spend more money if it wants to be a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. He told Blandin, "They need to start picking up the tab that American citizens are having to pick up. If Birmingham wants to be a sanctuary city, or wants to head in that direction, that is their decision. They are absolutely wrong."
On August 4, 2014 Brooks went on The Laura Ingraham Show and Ingraham played Brooks a clip of Ron Fournier warning that the Republican Party could not survive as the "party of white people." Brooks responded: "Well, this is a part of the war on whites that's being launched by the Democratic Party... And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, creed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things." The comment drew considerable comments and controversy. When asked about the comment later that day, Brooks repeated the claim of a war on whites, stating: "In effect, what the Democrats are doing with their dividing America by race is they are waging a war on whites and I find that repugnant."
Two days after the original comment, Brooks expanded also stated that the Republican Party was involved in a war on whites.
National Security Agency
Brooks supports the right for the National Security Agency to collect telephone metadata on Americans, saying its potential to thwart terrorist attacks outweighs potential infringements on privacy. However, in 2014, Brooks voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act, which, according to the bill's sponsor, would "rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC."
In December 2011, Brooks voted in support of H.R. 10, the "Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act," which would have required Congressional approval for any "major regulations" issued by the executive branch but, unlike the 1996 Congressional Review Act, would not require the president's signature or override of a probable presidential veto.
According to a survey by the Christian Coalition, Brooks is also opposed to the idea of government-run health care. He voted yes on repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Statements on socialism
In April 2011, Brooks stated, during a congressional speech, "Folks, we are here today forcing this issue because America is at risk. We are at risk of insolvency and bankruptcy because the socialist members of this body choose to spend money that we do not have." After Brooks made this remark, Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison asked that Brooks' comments be "taken down." This request forced Brooks to either have the comment stricken from the record or defend the remark and wait until later in the day for a formal ruling over whether or not the comment was inappropriate. Brooks chose to have the remark withdrawn before he continued with his speech. Ellison accepted the withdrawal.
Afterwards, Brooks stated that he did not regret his initial remark and that he thought those who objected to his comment, particularly those within the Democratic Party, were "thin-skinned." He stated, "People could quite clearly infer that socialism is what the other guys are promoting."
Brooks voted yes on terminating funding for NPR.
Brooks has stated that legalization of marijuana is a state issue and has voted in favor of bills to allow doctors in the Veterans Health Administration to discuss medical marijuana with patients and block the DEA from taking enforcement actions against medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
- Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
- Committee on Science, Space and Technology
- Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics (Vice-Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Energy
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
- Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
- House Freedom Caucus
|Republican||Mo Brooks (I)||65,123||71|
|Republican||Mo Brooks (I)||188,924||65|
2016 presidential election
On November 9, 2015, Brooks endorsed Ted Cruz for President of the United States, and served as Chairman of the Cruz campaign's Alabama leadership team.
Brooks met Martha Jenkins of Toledo, Ohio, at Duke University. They were married in 1976. Martha graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in accounting. In 2004, Martha attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a degree in teaching. She has retired from teaching math at at Whitesburg Middle School in Huntsville. They have two sons, two daughters, and eight grandchildren. Brooks joined the LDS Church in 1978, and though he still attends Mormon services with his wife, he considers himself a non-denominational Christian.