Donald Trump

Trump budget ax would slash lots of fed spendng in TN

Dozens of programs that provide funding or services in Tennessee are targeted for elimination or drastic cuts under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, reports Michael Collins.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Delta Regional Authority all would be impacted by Trump’s spending plan, released early Thursday and dubbed “America’s First” budget by the White House.

Other programs that reach into the state yet would get no funding under Trump’s budget include Community Development Block Grants, which provide resources to cities for a variety of activities such as affordable housing and anti-poverty initiatives; the Meals on Wheels food-delivery program for the elderly; the Minority Business Development Agency, which works to help minority-owned businesses grow and stay competitive; and heating assistance for low-income residents.

“The list of important programs cut or eliminated is huge,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis. “President Trump’s budget will thrust America into social and cultural deterioration, a new Dark Ages.”


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Roe doesn’t expect Congress to go along with Trump eliminating ARC

The Appalachian Regional Commission is one of 19 current federal agencies that would be defunded under President Trump’s proposed budget, but Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District says that’s probably not going to happen, reports the Johnson City Press.

The president’s proposal, subtitled “A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” provides increases to defense spending and law enforcement while eliminating the ARC’s $120 million appropriation, $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program — used by rural communities to provide housing, build infrastructure and stimulate job growth — and a slew of other domestic agencies and programs.

… In an emailed statement… Roe, R-Tenn., applauded the Trump budget proposal’s support for national defense and assured the safety of programs benefitting rural Appalachia.

… “In the weeks and months ahead, Congress will decide whether or not to adopt the president’s recommendations. Programs like the Appalachian Regional Commission, which does tremendous good for rural Appalachia, have bipartisan support in Congress and I don’t expect they will be eliminated. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the president to work toward getting our fiscal house in order and balancing our budget.”

Note: The Atlantic has a list of the 19 defunded agencies, including in its report this observation on eliminating the ARC: Its inclusion is notable, because it serves a region that largely supported Trump, and which he has promised to revive economically.

Sen. Mark Green dropping run for governor to become Army secretary?

Former Army flight surgeon and Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) is the leading pick to take over as President Donald Trump’s Army Secretary, reports Military Times, quotinq “sources close to the process.”

Green, best known as the special operations soldier who interviewed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after his capture by American forces in 2003, would be the second person nominated by Trump for the post. Last month, billionaire veteran Vincent Viola dropped out of the confirmation process citing numerous conflicts of interest with his family businesses.

…If confirmed, the 1986 West Point graduate will make the jump from local politics to the highest levels of military planning, overseeing Trump’s promised build-up of Army end-strength and equipment modernization.

Green was elected to state office in 2012 and for the last seven years has served as founder and CEO of Align MD, an emergency department staffing company. The firm operates in 30 hospitals in six states.

Further from The Tennessean:

The move would abruptly halt the former Army officer’s bid for governor of Tennessee just two months after it launched.

… Green is nearing the nomination and going through background checks, another source close to the search said. Green has been a candidate for weeks, the source said.

All of Green’s bills that had been set for discussion in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday were instead sent back to a subcommittee. That’s generally a sign the legislation is either dead for the year or may be carried by a different lawmaker.

UPDATE from Politico: Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee and a West Point grad, met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday during his trip to a rally in Nashville where they solidified the deal. 

“We do not have any personnel announcements at this time,” said White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A source close to Green said that he’s currently filling out intensive background checks that the White House personnel office and FBI will review.

Trump in Nashville: Time to ’embrace our glorious national destiny’

President Donald Trump touted his first 60 days in office as the most productive ever for a president during a Nashville rally Wednesday and, drawing roars from the thousands in attendance, slammed a Hawaii federal judge’s decision that temporarily halted the administration’s new attempt to ban most travel from six majority Muslim countries.

Further from The Tennessean:

He also promised to repeal Obamacare while throwing his support behind a House Republican effort to overhaul the controversial law and vowing additional changes of his own.

“It’s time for us to embrace our glorious national destiny,” Trump said at the conclusion of his 40-minute speech.

Trump took the stage Wednesday evening later than expected as long lines of supporters waited in the cold to get into Municipal Auditorium because of a security bottleneck and confusion. Over the course of the day, the line of people grew several blocks long, circling the perimeter of the state Capitol.

At the lawn of the Metro courthouse, thousands of protesters jeered as the president arrived in downtown Nashville. Inside the 1960s-era arena, multiple protesters interrupted Trump’s speech and were escorted out — including one woman holding a sign that read, “Medicare for all.”

Trump’s loyalists responded with chants of “Trump!” and “USA!” that were akin to his many stump speeches last year.

Trump, escorted by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the state’s two Republican U.S. senators, began his afternoon in Nashville at The Hermitage, historic home of Jackson, the nation’s seventh president whose populist appeal has drawn comparison to Trump.

“He understood that great leadership was about putting America first,” Trump said shortly after taking the stage for his rally. “It’s time that America heard your voice, and believe me, on Nov. 8, they heard your voice.”

Trump likens himself to Andrew Jackson, defying ‘arrogant elite’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – President Donald Trump is paying homage to a predecessor, Andrew Jackson, with the highest form of flattery. Trump says the nation’s seventh president reminds him an awful lot of himself.

The president paid a visit Wednesday to The Hermitage – Jackson’s Nashville home – to commemorate what would have been Jackson’s 250th birthday.

Trump hailed Jackson as “one of our great presidents” and described some of their similarities. Trump’s team has long seized on parallels between the current president and the Tennessee war hero, comparing Jackson’s triumph in 1828 over President John Quincy Adams to Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last year.

Trump described Jackson as a fellow outsider who pledged to represent the forgotten worker and took on the Washington establishment.

“It was during the revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite,” Trump said.

“Does that sound familiar to you?” he asked his crowd. “Oh, I know the feeling, Andrew.”

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Legislators cancel meetings to join Trump at Jackson’s grave

State legislators, invited to attend President Trump’s visit to the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, cancelled all legislative committee meetings scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. All bills scheduled before those panels were postponed until Wednesday of next week.

Most Tennessee Republican legislators had signed up to attend the ceremonies today where Trump will lay a wreath on the grave of Andrew Jackson.

According to The Tennessean:

There will be 71 House lawmakers — 65 Republicans and six Democrats — and 26 state senators at the event, said representatives for House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge… There are 73 Republicans in the House and 28 in the Senate.

Harwell, House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, will be among the lawmakers who attend. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, and four other House Democrats will attend.

…U.S. Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and Gov. Bill Haslam are expected to attend Trump’s rally at Municipal Auditorium. Corker will travel with the president to Nashville and will also attend the event at The Hermitage, said a spokeswoman.

A list of legislators signing up for the event is below.

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Hermitage closed to public for first presidential visit since 1982

The Hermitage will to close to the public today — on what was expected to be a day of celebration for Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday. But the museum’s CEO tells WPLN he doesn’t  mind shutting down for the expected visit by President Trump, the first by a sitting president in 35 years.

Ronald Reagan made the same pilgrimage to Jackson’s home on his birthday in 1982 to lay a wreath on his tomb. In all, Hermitage CEO Howard Kittell says 13 presidents have dropped by. Some came after they were in office. Harry Truman may have visited before being elected president.

If he gets the chance to talk to President Trump, Kittell says he’d say “thank you” for re-hanging Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office and bringing attention to Jackson’s legacy, which has grown more controversial in recent years because of how he treated Native Americans. Last year, he was moved to the back of the 20-dollar bill.

“I think I would thank him for bringing Jackson into the news and indirectly, then, bringing attention to the Hermitage,” Kittell says. “I think Jackson is getting more publicity and press right now than he has since he was president. Not a day goes by without at least one or more articles about Jackson that pop up in Google alerts.”

Kittell says he sees the similarities in the two figures. Both have an outsider status and populist appeal. He figures Jackson would be on board with Trump’s effort to shrink the federal government. But Kittell says he wonders what the country’s seventh president — the child of immigrants — would say about new border restrictions.

Alexander, Corker see Trump’s new travel ban as an improvement

Some Republican senators who were critical of President Trump’s first executive order restricting travel from seven majority Muslim nations see his new version, covering six countries with revisions otherwise, as a substantive improvement, reports Politico. That includes Tennessee’s two U.S. senators.


Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who said Trump’s initial ban “needed more vetting,” on Monday said the revised version “appears to be a wiser approach to reviewing how we scrutinize those traveling to the United States from war-torn countries.”

Still, Alexander added, Monday’s order “should last only as long as it takes to complete the review” of immigrant vetting procedures that Trump has proposed.

…Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who also criticized Trump’s January travel ban, offered some limited praise for the roll-out of the new plan.

“I am very encouraged by the inter-agency approach the administration has taken to develop and implement the revised executive order,” said Corker, adding that he was pleased that Iraq was removed from the countries subject to visa restrictions. The Tennessee Republican also said reviewing the nation’s screening and vetting procedures is “an appropriate step” and that he is hopeful these programs will then be reinstated.

Haslam, other govs, meet with Trump on Obamacare

Tennessee’s Bill Haslam was among a group of governors meeting with President Trump Monday for a discussion of Obamacare, reports the Associated Press.

“It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump told the governors.

Haslam unsuccessfully pushed a plan to expand health insurance access to hundreds of thousands of low-income Tennesseans. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan would have used funds made available through the Affordable Care Act.

“There was discussion around a couple of topics, including infrastructure, but the discussion was predominantly around health care, and Gov. Haslam was very encouraged by the amount of collaboration between the White House, Congress and governors on this issue,” Haslam spokeswoman Laura Herzog said by email Monday. “He has never seen the White House and Congress listen to governors as much as they are doing now.”

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Duncan: Trump’s wrong in calling media enemy of the people

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., who endorsed Donald Trump before almost all other Republicans in Congress and agrees with him on most issues, says the new is dead wrong on one issue, reports Michael Collins.

“I disagree with him completely on saying the press is the enemy of the people,” Duncan said. “I think it’s very important to the future of our country to have a free press and freedom of the press and to have a strong, active media. I think just about everybody in the United States – or most people in the United States – believes in freedom of the press.”

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

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