Tennessee delegation

Bredesen could be nation’s richest U.S. senator if elected

Democrat Phil Bredesen would become one of the wealthiest members in Congress if the former Tennessee governor is elected to the U.S. Senate, according to financial disclosures filed Friday and compared to Roll Call’s most recent report on the wealth of current members of the U.S. House and Senate.

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TN delegation split on $1.3 trillion federal spending vote

The Tennessee congressional delegation split in voting on a $1.3 trillion federal spending plan that passed the U.S. House 256-157 on Thursday and the Senate 65-32 early Friday morning. The measure funds the government through Sept. 30.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander voted yes and, prior to the vote, issued a press release praising several of the spending items in the package. Republican Sen. Bob Corker voted no and, prior to the vote, declared in a floor speech that the bill was the most “grotesque” seen in his 11 years of service.

In the House, yes votes in the Tennessee delegation came from Republican Reps. Chuck Fleischmann of Ootelwah, Phil Roe of Johnson City and David Kustoff of Germantown along with Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville.

The Tennessee no votes came from Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Diane Black of Gallatin, John J. “Jimmy” Duncan of Knoxville and Democrat Steve Cohen of Memphis.

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Black skips more House votes than the rest of Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation combined

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, has missed 29 of the 101 votes taken on the House floor so far this year – more than any other member of the Tennessee congressional delegation, reports The Tennessean. Runner-up in missed votes – 11 — is Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

The seven other members of the state’s U.S. House delegation have cumulatively missed just 12 votes this year.

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Alexander, Corker pitch better pay for songwriters (with songwriting Sen. Hatch)

Press release from Sen. Bob Corker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today spoke with a group of Nashville songwriters about legislation they introduced earlier this year to help ensure songwriters are paid fair market value for their songs. The legislation – the Music Modernization Act – would set up a new simplified licensing entity to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license to play songs and ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed.

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Politicians pray and sing at Memphis stop on congressional civil rights ‘pilgrimage’

About a dozen Democrats and Republicans prayed and sang “Amazing Grace” during a solemn ceremony Friday at the site where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated nearly 50 years ago, marking the start of a three-day congressional “pilgrimage” to sites with ties to the civil rights era in the South, reports the Associated Press.

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Black skips vote on budget deal; rest of TN delegation split

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, former House Budget Committee chair who is now running for governor, skipped voting on the $400 billion budget that stopped a brief federal government shutdown on Friday. The Tennessee congressional delegation was otherwise split in the voting.

In the Senate’s 72-28 vote, Sen. Lamar Alexander voted yes; Sen. Bob Corker no.

In the House’s 240-186 vote,  Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan of Knoxville voted no along with Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville. The state’s other Republican congressmen – Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg, Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah and David Kustoff of Memphis – voted yes and were joined by Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis.

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Roe remains undecided about reelection; speculation underway on candidates to succeed him

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said in Washington Monday that he will decide in the “next week or so” whether to run for a sixth term, reports Roll Call, adding that there’s already some speculation underway on who might run to replace him. Names dropped include two state representatives and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

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TN politicians comment on government shutdown

Comments from some members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation on the partial government shutdown.

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DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

Even some conservatives – including Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — seem open to return to earmarks since President Trump floated the idea, reports The Hill.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

…But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.”

If earmarks were restored, “I can be more of a spokesman for the people in Tennessee who need it,” DesJarlais continued. “There is an overpass in Rutherford County that we need to get funding for. We’ve got things up in Nashville, the Percy Priest Reservoir … so yeah, I would like to have a better voice.

“I don’t know if earmarks is the answer. I’ve never had them, so I don’t know if it’s good or not.”

Other conservatives also expressed openness to allowing earmarks or something similar, saying that ensuring money for specific projects would give the legislative branch more power.

… Trump said at a White House meeting with roughly two dozen lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should consider allowing earmarks again.

He suggested that doing so would allow Congress to function better, lamenting that the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control.”

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump said. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” Trump added.

Trump traveling to TN with Corker, Black, Blackburn and Roe

U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, both campaigning for statewide office, and retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will join President Trump in flying to Nashville for a Monday afternoon speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, reports The Tennessean. So will U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who hasn’t officially said whether he’ll run for another term.

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