Shelby has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association for his support of gun rights. In 2016, Shelby voted against the Feinstein Amendment, which sought to stop the sale of firearms to people known or suspected to be terrorists. Upon being asked by Scott Wapner on why he voted against it, Shelby said “I do believe that we should keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, would-be terrorists, and a lot of other people.”
In January 2019, Shelby was one of thirty-one Republican senators to cosponsor the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz that would grant individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home state the right to exercise this right in any other state with concealed carry laws while concurrently abiding by that stateâ€™s laws.
In 2010, Shelby initially opposed the Republican Party’s moratorium on earmark funding.
Shelby has supported development of the Space Launch System (SLS), but disagreed with how funds for the program have been spent. He favors competition for the strap-on booster design. The SLS earmark has been opposed by fiscal conservative groups, including the Tea Party. When President Obama decided to cancel Constellation, the Bush-era NASA program that was to provide the U.S.’s next manned rocket and instead give NASA a new $6 billion to ramp up a commercial space industry while NASA studies deep-space missions, Shelby ridiculed the plan as a “faith-based initiative”.
Both under the Bush Administration, in 2008, and the Obama Administration, beginning in 2009, Shelby was vocal in his opposition to bailing out the banks and other corporations (such as AIG).
In 2010, Shelby voted to block three amendments to regulate banks, including an amendment #3812 to S. 3217 to cap ATM fees at $0.50 per transaction, and to bar banks borrowing taxpayer money through TARP funds to use those funds for their own benefit. Shelby also believes that bank oversight violates the right to privacy and is against the Government Office of Financial Research being able to collect the financial data it needs to regulate the bank industry.
In 2011, Shelby opposed the nomination of Nobel Economics Prize laureate and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Peter Diamond to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve, on the grounds that professor Diamond “lacked the necessary qualifications”. Since becoming Senate Banking Chairman Shelby has made “regulatory relief and financial regulation reform his top priority”. In May 2015, he revealed the so-called “Shelby Bill”, easing regulatory restrictions on smaller banks and increasing scrutiny of the Federal Reserve.
In May 2015, Shelby introduced legislation that if enacted would increase congressional scrutiny of the Federal Reserve and ease some regulatory burdens on multiple small banks and loosen oversight to banks such as U.S. Bancorp and SunTrust Banks enacted under the Dodd-Frank Act. In a written statement, Shelby referred to the legislation as “a working document intended to initiate a conversation with all members of the committee who are interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement to improve access to credit and to reduce the level of risk in our financial system.”
Shelby opposes abortion and has stated on his Senate campaign website that Roe v. Wade is “…terribly flawed on both a constitutional and moral basis.” Shelby also opposes taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and has voted against a short-term funding bill in Congress because it did not defund Planned Parenthood.
He advocates a flat tax and supported the Bush Administration’s tax cuts. He cites disagreements with the Democrats on tax policy as one of the main reasons he became a Republican; he feels the Democrats are too willing to enact tax increases.
Shelby is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Shelby opposed President Barack Obama’s health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
In August 2009, Shelby opined that the United States had “the best health care system in the world” and cited the need to expand the system without destroying it.
Following Senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour speech opposing the Affordable Care Act, Shelby joined Cruz and 17 other Senators in a failed vote against cloture on a comprehensive government funding bill that would have also continued funding healthcare reform.
In September 2017, after the Senate reached an agreement during a lunch to not vote on a Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that week, Shelby said, “Why have a vote if you know what the outcome is and it’s not what you want. I don’t know what you gain from that. But I do believe that the health care issue is not dead, and that’s what counts.”
In December 2002, Shelby said, “We don’t need another nuclear power – not with Iran sponsoring terrorism that it has in the past. The fact that they are seemingly pursuing an avenue to build nuclear weapons should be disturbing to everybody.”
In March 2015, Shelby was one of forty-seven Republican senators to sign a letter to Iran warning that a nuclear deal with the United States would have to first be approved through Congress. In July, Shelby stated that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was “a bad deal” and questioned why the United States would support the agreement if Russia President Vladimir Putin favored it.
In September 2016, Shelby was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry advocating for the United States using “all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria” from an Iranian airbase near Hamadan “that are clearly not in our interest” and stating that there should be clear enforcement by the US of the airstrikes violating “a legally binding Security Council Resolution” on Iran.
In August 2017, Shelby co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.270), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.
In March 2018, Shelby voted to table a resolution spearheaded by Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee that would have required President Trump to withdraw American troops either in or influencing Yemen within the next 30 days unless they were combating Al-Qaeda.
Among the bills sponsored by Shelby over the years have been bills to make English the sole language of the federal government, to limit federal government spending by statute, and to provide a moratorium on certain forms of immigration, and to support a Federal Marriage Amendment.
In 1999, Shelby was one of ten Republican senators to vote for the acquittal of President Bill Clinton on the charge of perjury when Clinton was tried in the Senate in 1999, although he voted for Clinton’s conviction on the charge of obstruction of justice.
Shelby opposed the initial bailout proposal to extend billions of dollars in loan money to the Big Three US auto manufacturers. He is often seen as a front man for the GOP Senate opposition. In late 2008, he opposed a Federal government bridge loan for US-owned auto companies, saying: “We don’t need governmentâ€”governmental subsidies for manufacturing in this country. It’s the French model, it’s the wrong road. We will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I’m not wrong.”
In December 2010, Shelby was one of twenty-six senators who voted against the ratification of New Start, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads as well as 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.
In 2017, Shelby was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Shelby has received more than $60,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.
In the December 2017 Alabama Senate special election, after the Republican nominee for the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, Roy Moore, was accused of molesting teenage girls as young as fourteen, Shelby stated on CNN that “I think the Republican Party can do better” and “The state of Alabama deserves better.” Shelby said he wrote in the name of another Republican on his general election absentee ballot. Shelby claimed to be “relieved” when Moore was defeated in the special election by Democrat Doug Jones.
He opposed the FIRST STEP Act. The bill passed 87-12 on December 18, 2018.