Congress

Blackburn bashed over bill undercutting DEA authority over opioid distribution

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, now running for the U.S. Senate, is cited in a 60 Minutes report as a leading proponent of legislation approved by Congress – after heavy lobbying by the drug manufacturing industry — that apparently undercut the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s authority to oversee distribution of products involved in the national opioid abuse crisis.

The report has brought a round of criticism from aimed at Blackburn from Democrats and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who is exploring a run against Blackburn for the Republican nomination to U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Corker.

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Black prepares to step down as budget chair — but won’t say when

Having finally shepherded the fiscal 2018 budget resolution through the House, U.S. Rep. Diane Black is now preparing to give up her gavel as chair of the House Budget Committee after 10 months in the position to focus on her run for governor, reports Roll Call.

Black still won’t put a timeline on her departure date — including whether she will stick it out through conference negotiations with the Senate.

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Alexander to try again on bipartisan Obamacare fix

With plans for a U.S. Senate vote on the latest Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare abandoned, Sen. Lamar Alexander said today he will restart efforts to come  up with a short-term bill that can win bipartisan support.

Here’s the press release:

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Haslam, Alexander & Corker back latest Obamacare repeal effort

Gov. Bill Haslam is cheering for passage of a new U.S. Senate proposal for repealing Obamacare that he says is “flat out good for Tennessee.” Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker indicate they’ll vote for it, though there’s lots of criticism from doctors, hospitals, veterans and Democrats.

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Hortense Cooper, governor’s wife & congressman’s mother, dies age 98

Hortense Hayes Powell Cooper, widow of Gov. Prentice Cooper and mother of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, died Monday night at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville at age 98, according to the congressman’s office.

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Alexander’s bipartisan Obamacare fix fails

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington have given up on their push for a bipartisan bill to continue federal subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare as a short-term fix for individual health insurance market.

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Senate GOP spat: Alexander versus Hatch

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s efforts to craft a bipartisan bill to shore up Obamacare are drawing “hostile fire” from a fellow Republican Senate committee chairman, reports Politico.

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‘Restless’ Black pushing for U.S. House budget vote with no assurance of passage

House Budget Chairman Diane Black  Tuesday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the budget to the floor this month, even though her hard-fought fiscal outline lacks the 218 votes needed for passage, reports Politico. Frustrated by her party’s divisions, she is daring die-hard conservatives to vote no, forcing them to take the fall for choking off the party’s chances at tax reform.

“Sometimes when you get this close, perhaps you just need to put it on the floor,” Black (R-Tenn.) told POLITICO in a 30 minute interview. “I have made the case to the leadership, that I think it’s time.”

“I am restless. I want to have it done,” she said.

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Most TNGOP congressmen vote no on debt ceiling/disaster relief

Most Republicans in Tennessee’s congressional delegation voted against a bill that raises the national debt ceiling and provides $15 billion in hurricane Harvey disaster relief — legislation finalized after President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Democratic congressional leaders.

The bill was approved 80-17 in the Senate on Thursday with Sen. Lamar Alexander voting yes and Sen. Bob Corker voting no.

The House approved the bill today on a 316-90 vote. Tennessee’s two Democratic representatives, Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville, both voted yes. So did two East Tennessee Republicans – Reps. Phil Roe of Johnson City and Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga.

But five Tennessee Republicans voted no. They were Reps. Diane Black of Gallatin, Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg, John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. of Knoxville and David Kustoff of Memphis.

In response to an inquiry, a Corker spokeswoman emailed this comment on his vote:

“We continue to kick the can down the road on our fiscal issues instead of changing the trajectory of spending,” said Corker. “This bill added $7.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant money that the president did not even request that should have gone through the normal appropriations process.”

Note: A Washington Post overview story (one of many in national media) is HERE. The Senate roll call vote is HERE and the House roll call vote HERE.

Haslam, other govs pitch quick health insurance fix

Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday urged Congress to “move quickly to stabilize” the nation’s individual health insurance market and then mount “a serious effort” to curb soaring health care costs as federal lawmakers seek ways to keep the Affordable Care Act from imploding, reports the Times Free Press.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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