Lamar Alexander

Alexander, Corker favor moving Forrest bust (and a note on the bust history)

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker say they support moving a bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state capitol building to a museum.

Continue reading

On Alexander’s ‘unabashedly bipartisan’ effort to save Obamacare subsidies

Sen. Lamar Alexander is taking an “overtly and unabashedly bipartisan approach” to try and save parts of Obamacare after voting earlier to repeal it, reports the New York Times. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he “willing to take a look” at Alexander’s plan when submitted, reports the Associated Press.

From the Times:

This won’t be easy to do,” acknowledged Mr. Alexander, 77, a Tennessee Republican and longtime public official who is chairman of the Senate health committee, “but we are going to do our best to do it.”

…Even a small bill would be a feat in a Congress that has delivered so few results. But Mr. Alexander, a durable believer in the legislative process, sees it as a possibility, with the alternative being a failure that is certain to rock already reeling individual insurance markets.

“It has to be simple if we are to get bipartisan agreement by mid-September on an issue that has divided the parties so much,” he said. Stabilizing the markets for a year, he said, would provide breathing room to “tackle bigger issues” on health care.

From the AP:

(McConnell) noted Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is working on “some kind of bipartisan approach” that would involve subsidies for insurance companies.

Alexander recently said he will work with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, on a bill next month that would pay insurers through 2018. In exchange, Alexander wants Democrats to agree to make it easier for states to choose their own health coverage standards that insurers must provide rather than abiding by former President Barack Obama’s law.

“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell said

Alexander urges Trump to keep Obamacare subsidies, schedules health care hearings

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander urged President Donald Trump on Tuesday to drop plans to eliminate government insurance subsidies that help millions afford health coverage in order to give Congress time to “stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market,” reports the Times Free Press.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, announced plans he and the panel’s senior Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, will hold bipartisan hearings beginning Sept. 4.

The goal is coming up with a short-term solution so that “Americans will be able to buy insurance at affordable prices in 2018,” Tennessee’s senior senator said in comments to his committee.

“There are a number of issues with the American health care system, but if your house is on fire, you want to put out the fire, and the fire in this case is the individual health insurance market,” Alexander added. “Both Republicans and Democrats agree on this.”

See also the New York Times report, which ties the Alexander-Murray move in the Senate to an effort by some House Republicans “to promote incremental health legislation that would also fund the cost-sharing subsidies.”

The moves were a remarkable response to the president’s repeated threats to send health care insurance markets into a tailspin. The offered tangible indications of cooperation between the parties after Republican efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate last week, all but ending the seven-year Republican quest to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Lawmakers from both parties concede that the health law needs improvement, as consumers face sharp premium increases and a shrinking number of insurance options in many states.

 

Senate GOP’s last ‘skinny’ try at Obamacare repeal fails; Alexander and Corker vote yes

Start of a Politico report:

The Senate Republicans’ push to dismantle Obamacare collapsed in dramatic fashion early Friday morning, when two centrist GOP women and Sen. John McCain of Arizona teamed to sink an already scaled-back effort to dismantle the 2010 health care law.

McCain and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sided with all 48 Democrats to reject the Republicans’ so-called skinny repeal plan, tanking the measure by a vote of 49-51. The Senate GOP had already pretty much shunned the proposal, viewing it mostly as a route to go into negotiations with the House.

Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, who had split with each other and the GOP majority in a couple of earlier votes on different versions of health care legislation, were thus together in voting yes on the final attempt (just as they were on the first procedural vote to hold debate).

An Alexander statement via press release:

“I voted to take the next step toward what I believed was our best opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Senate’s failure to do this leaves an urgent problem that I am committed to addressing: Tennessee’s state insurance commissioner says our individual insurance market is very near collapse. Unless Congress acts, many of the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy health insurance in that market—songwriters, farmers, the self-employed—face the real prospect of having zero options to buy insurance in 2018 and 2019.”

A Corker statement via press release:

“My strong preference was for Congress to advance legislation I supported earlier this week to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period,” said Corker. “I sincerely believed that was the best path forward and would have taken us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides would have had incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that would generate broad support and stand the test of time. Unfortunately, that amendment failed to achieve the votes necessary to advance.”

“I am disappointed that the Senate failed this morning to advance legislation that would allow us to continue our work to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is driving up costs and limiting choices for families in Tennessee and across our country,” added Corker. “It is my hope that we will expeditiously move to a process that will generate an outcome that is better for the American people than what is in place today.”

Alexander and Corker split (again) in Obamacare repeal voting

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, voted on opposite sides again Wednesday in the continuing Senate saga of trying to do something on repeal of Obamacare.

Wednesday’s key vote was on what some called a “clean repeal,” basically jettisoning the Affordable Care Act – two years from now — under the theory Congress can come up with a replacement plan by then. The proposal failed on a 45-55 vote with Alexander one of seven Republicans voting no with all Democrats. Corker voted yes.

Continue reading

Alexander, Corker back holding ‘vote-a-rama’ on Obamacare repeal, then split on first follow-up ballot

Tennessee’s U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, stuck with a big majority of their Republican colleagues in voting Tuesday to open debate on Obamacare repeal and/or replacement legislation. Only two Republicans voted no in the opening round of what Pollitico calls a “vote-a-rama.”

But on the second key vote, Corker was one of nine Republicans breaking ranks with the GOP Senate majority and voting no with all Democrats. The overall vote was 47 yes, 53 no, effectively killing – for the time being, at least — what The Hill describes as “the GOP repeal and a replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as proposals from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rob Portman (Ohio).”

The vote-a-rama continues today.

A further excerpt from The Hill story:

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Rand Paul (Ky.) voted against the repeal-replace proposal on the procedural hurdle. No Democrats voted for it.  

The proposal was the first amendment to get a vote after senators took up the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action, earlier Tuesday.

…Tuesday night’s vote doesn’t prevent GOP leadership from offering another repeal and replace amendment, or another version of BCRA. It could also help GOP leadership get rank-and-file senators on the record, as they try to figure out a path forward.

A vote on an amendment that would repeal much of ObamaCare is expected on Wednesday.

Note: See also the AP story Wednesday morning, HERE, which has more details. Both Tennessee senators sent out similar press release statements on their support for the first vote to open debate — Corker  HERE; Alexander HERE.

Today’s coherent commentary from Corker & Alexander on Obamacare stuff

A quote from Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker made it into a New York Times headline today. The headline: In a cruel summer for the G.O.P., ‘Things are starting to feel incoherent’

Relevant excerpt from the article:

“Things are starting to feel incoherent,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, reflecting on the health care efforts, which have turned many Republican senators against one another as efforts to negotiate the future of the Medicaid program have caused large rifts.

With no small measure of understatement, Mr. Corker conceded, “There’s just not a lot of progress happening.”

Meanwhile, the Times-Free Press has this from Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is differing with Corker’s announced support of a plan to repeal Obamacare now with the effective date postponed two years, giving Congress more time to decide upon a replacement:

“I don’t think Tennesseans would be comfortable with repealing first and then trusting Congress to figure out a replacement later,” he said. “Most pilots like to know where they’re going to land before they take off, and we should too.”

Headline on the TFP story: Democrats attack Corker over health care ‘flip-flop

Note: So Alexander didn’t make the TFP headline. And, of course, he did not refer to his fellow Tennessee senator directly. But  it might be an indication that the issue has turned one Volunteer State senator against the other? Related previous post HERE. (For a left-leaning view of the two Tennessean senators’ positioning on the issue, see Bruce Barry’s Nashville Scene piece, bearing the headline, “The Bob-and-Lamar Reasonable Human Delusion.”)

A glance at Corker, Alexander, the Senate Obamacare dither and related Democrat bashing of Corker — just for today

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Republicans Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, are apparently taking different stances on the latest move on health care legislation by many – but apparently not most — or their fellow Senate Republicans. The basic idea is to a vote to repeal Obamacare now with a two-year waiting period while Congress tries to figure out a replacement. It appears from their comments that Corker’s for it, reversing a past position; Alexander is not.

Corker issued a press release indicating support for the idea. His announcement was promptly denounced by Democrats, including James Mackler, who is campaigning for the party’s nomination to oppose him in 2018.

Alexander initially issued a press release (HERE) saying he wants to have hearings on the replacement regardless of how voting goes on the latest repeal effort with no indication of his stance  on the actual vote,  but the Tennessean today quotes Alexander on CNN as suggesting he doesn’t like the repeal-without-a-replacement idea and the votes aren’t there:

“I don’t think there are 40 votes to repeal and say to the American people, ‘Well, trust us to come up with something in the next couple of years.’ I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Alexander said.

(UPDATE/Note: Subsequently,  the Times-Free Press has this Alexander comment:  “Most pilots like to know where they’re going to land before they take off, and we should too.”)

Continue reading

U.S. Senate confirms Bill Hagerty as U.S. ambassador to Japan

The U.S. Senate voted 82-12 today to confirm President Trump’s nomination of William “Bill” Hagerty, formerly commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both praised Hagerty in Senate floor speeches. Here’s text of their remarks, as provided by their communications staff:

Continue reading

Alexander, Corker get 52 percent approval ratings in national polling on U.S. senators

Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker got identical 52 percent approval in polling by Morning Consult in all 50 states on the popularity of U.S. senators. Both also had 29 percent disapproval ratings.

That puts them, more or less, in the middle of the pack among colleagues nationwide. They are among 20 senators who saw their overall approval rating declined from Morning Consult’s last such survey. (Corker was at 57 percent then; Alexander at 55 percent.)

Nationally, Vermont Democrat Bernie Sanders had the highest approval (75 percent); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, the lowest (41 percent with 48 percent disapproval). The full report is HERE.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.