Donald Trump

Alexander, Corker back bill aimed at strengthening gun background checks

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are co-sponsors of legislation intended to strengthen background checks for gun buyers and a White House spokeswoman says President Trump, while not endorsing a specific proposal, “is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”

From Michael Collins’ report:

 “We need to make existing background checks more effective,” Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement Monday.

The legislation would help ensure “that federal agencies and states get information about individuals who should be prohibited from buying a gun into the national background check system,” he said.

The bill provides financial incentives to states and federal agencies to work harder to comply with laws requiring them to report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

…”I have long supported improving how our background check system operates, while at the same time ensuring that Second Amendment rights are not infringed upon,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “The Fix NICS Act meets that test, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of this piece of legislation.

“It is very important that federal agencies and state governments take the time to comply with existing federal law and submit the relevant information to NICS in order to ensure that those who have lost their right to possess a firearm are prohibited from purchasing one.”

Note: The New York Times report on Trump’s position and related gun matters is HERE.

Update on Corker reconsidering: rebuff from Trump (?), Blackburn sees sexism afoot, etc.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s campaign said Tuesday — responding to reports that Sen. Bob Corker is considering reversing an earlier decision and running for reelection to a new U.S. Senate term — that anyone who thinks she can’t win the general election in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race is a “plain sexist pig,” reports the Associated Press.

The New York Times reports, meanwhile, that President Donald Trump has been encouraging Blackburn and rebuffing – so far – what one Republican calls a “charm offensive” by Sen. Bob Corker and supporters seeking the president’s support for Corker seeking for reelection.

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Haslam: Gas tax hike gives TN ‘a step up in the game’ under Trump’s infrastructure proposal

Gov. Bill Haslam says the state fuel tax increase approved by the legislature last year puts Tennessee in a good position to leverage federal transportation funding under the new infrastructure plan proposed by President Trump on Monday, reports Michael Collins.

The Trump proposal envisions $1.5 trillion in new investments in highways, bridges and mass transit over a 10-year period, but only $200 billion would be in new federal money – the rest in state and local funding or private investment, according to the New York Times. States would have to put in a bigger share of the money for projects, or get private investment, to trigger the new federal funding.

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Trump proposes selling TVA assets; Alexander and Corker say that won’t happen

President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal calls for selling Tennessee Valley Authority’ electric transmission assets to help pay for a new $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, reports Michael Collins.

“The private sector is best suited to own and operate electricity transmission assets,” the administration wrote in the president’s proposed budget. “Eliminating the federal government’s own role in owning and operating transmission assets encourages a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigates unnecessary risk to taxpayers.”

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Trump nominates GOP activist John Ryder to TVA board

Memphis attorney John L. Ryder, who has served as general counsel at the Republican National Committee for the past five years and as the GOP’s national committeeman from Tennessee, has been nominated to fill the last open seat on the Tennessee Valley Authority, reports the Times Free Press.

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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.

Nashville attorney Paul Ney nominated as counsel for U.S. Department of Defense

President Donald Trump has nominated Nashville attorney Paul Ney to become general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, the White House announced Monday.

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Senate confirms ‘Chip’ Campbell as federal judge for Middle TN

The U.S. Senate Tuesday voted 97-0 to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Nashville attorney William “Chip” Campbell as a U.S. District Court judge for Middle Tennessee. Confirmation of three other nominees for judicial post in Tennessee is still pending.

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Trump hails TN and its politicians — including Corker and Andrew Jackson

Tennessee Republican officials stood by President Donald Trump on stage Monday and much of the party’s congressional delegation rode Air Force One into Nashville for his speech to America’s farmers, according to the Associated Press. He also praised President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat.

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Press release on President Trump’s Nashville speech to farmers

Press release from the White House, Office of the Press Secretary

On January 13, 1992, President George H. W. Bush stepped to the podium at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri. The president had just returned from a 12-day trip across Asia, and he used his Farm Bureau speech to discuss what the future of trade might look like in a post-Soviet world.

“Our Asian allies understand that we don’t want handouts or a home-field trade advantage,” President Bush said. “We just want a level playing field. Give us a fair shot, and American workers will outthink, outwork, and outproduce anyone in the world.”

Fast forward 26 years, and rural America has been left behind in too many ways. Rural employment has grown slower than employment in urban areas and was slowest to recover from the Great Recession. Poverty rates remain disproportionately high in many rural communities. And according to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans—23 million people—lack sufficient broadband access.

Despite these and other struggles, no U.S. president had spoken at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting, one of rural America’s signature events, since the first President Bush did so in 1992.

On January 8, 2018, President Donald J. Trump broke that trend. He traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and delivered a major speech at the 2018 Farm Bureau convention.

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