Bob Corker

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.”)

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On setting a state record for campaign spending and candidate self-financing

Nine months before the April qualifying deadline for gubernatorial candidates, those officially seeking the office have already collected $8.4 for their campaigns — $3.4 million through self-funding.

“If we have tight primary races and a tight competitive general election this one could hit $35 or $40 million,” said Kent Syler, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University, tells The Tennessean in a report noting the 2018 gubernatorial campaign is shaping up to set a state spending record.

A new state campaign spending record is possible, even probable. But the current state spending records are arguably somewhat higher than the figures cited elsewhere that include only spending by general election candidates, not losers in the primary. It’s a virtual certainty, on the other hand, that the developing gubernatorial races will set a record for self-financing.

 

The most expensive Tennessee political campaign so far was the U.S. Senate race in 2006, won by Republican Bob Corker over Democrat Harold Ford Jr. in the November general election. Corker and Ford combined spent about $34 million with Corker using $4.1 million of personal funds.  Corker’s two primary opponents, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary, spent about $2.2 million each, so the campaign total was more than $38 million. (Corker’s total was $18.6M; Ford $15.3M.)

The most expensive Tennessee gubernatorial campaign was in 2010, when Bill Haslam defeated two serious Republican primary opponents, followed by a much easier win over Democrat Mike McWherter in November. Haslam spent $16.7 million with $3.5 million in self-financing and McWherter $3.4 million and the overall campaign cost is often pegged at $20 million. But if you add the two GOP primary candidates Haslam defeated, the total was about $27 million. Ron Ramsey spent $3.1 million and Zach Wamp $4 million.

As for the Tennessee record of self-spending by one individual, it’s Corker’s $4.1 million. That’s roughly the same amount of self-spending for all candidates combined in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign — Haslam’s $3.5 million combined with Ramsey’s $200,000 loan to his campaign and Wamp’s $400,000 loan. (Ramsey and Wamp were able to repay their loans; Haslam’s loan has not been repaid.)

Ergo, Boyd is halfway to a record for self-financing with the filing of his first disclosure and Lee is not far behind. Corker and Haslam both waited until much later in their campaigns to put in significant personal money. And if multimillionaire U.S. Rep. Diane Black gets into the gubernatorial campaign race, she can be expected to quickly put in a substantial amount of personal funding in playing catchup against primary opponents who are already traversing the state and planning big advertising efforts.

Note: The Memphis Flyer today has some further musing from an old guy on the gubernatorial campaign HERE, including the suggestion that Boyd is the frontrunner at this embryonic stage of the proceedings. See also previous post listing basic figures from initial filings of candidate campaign finance reports HERE.

Corker ‘extremely prepared’ for reelection run; search for credible conservative challenger continues

Tennessee’s conservative power brokers, led by wealthy Nashville automobile dealer Lee Beaman, are looking for a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, reports the Washington Examiner, but they aren’t interested in launching a “quixotic battle” and Corker has $6.6 million ready for his reelection campaign.

The article – a condensed version appears in The Hill – says state Sen. Mark Green is the “preferred candidate,” but he’s unlikely to run because of his personal relationship with the incumbent and because “an uncomfortable spotlight was cast on his past comments about Islam and gender-related issues” before withdrawing as President Trump’s nominee as U.S. Army secretary.

“We will be extremely prepared,” Ward Baker, the top Republican strategist handling Corker’s re-election and a former executive director of the NRSC, the Senate GOP campaign arm, said. “Everyone will be taken seriously.”

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On Corker-Trump relations (‘parent confronting unruly toddler?’

Michael Collins takes a look at the relationship between Sen. Bob Corker and President Donald Trump. Excerpt:

Sometimes a defender. Occasionally a scold. It’s the role that Corker, the Senate’s foreign policy leader, has played as Trump’s adviser and confidante, his dinner companion and golf partner.

The relationship between the detail-oriented southerner and the shoot-from-the-hip Manhattanite has remained steady despite Trump’s rollercoaster presidency. And through it all, Corker said, one thing has been consistent.

Trump listens.

“That, to me, I think, would be the greatest surprise to people in Tennessee, whether they are Republican or Democrat, is that this administration — when you talk with them on the phone and you share something with them or you meet with them, they actually take your input into account and think about it,” Corker said. “And you can see the direct effect.”

Corker talks to Trump and his team often.

“I can’t remember calling over to talk to the president and not being immediately put through and having a conversation with him,” he said. “I can call him at 10 o’clock at night, and he’ll get on the phone. Or I can call him early in the morning, and he’ll get on the phone.”

Corker’s public scoldings of Trump, often followed by public praise, seem intended to instill a sense of discipline in the president and his White House, Patrick said.

“Like any parent confronting an unruly toddler, he’s using a mixture of encouragement and criticism,” (Stewart) Patrick (a foreign policy analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations) said.

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:

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Facebook page urges Green to run against Corker

A Facebook page has been set up under the title “Draft Mark Green to run for U.S. Senate in 2018” and The Tennessean quotes Rick Williams,  “a tea party-aligned conservative activist,” saying he was one of several people who helped form a group of the same name.

“It’s a group of conservatives from across the state,” Williams said, adding that he and others in the group were supportive of Green’s bid for governor and Army secretary. Some who are part of the online group were among the signatories of a letter encouraging Green to run for governor.

“A lot of us don’t see Bob Corker as supportive of the president as he should be,” Williams said.

The page also gets a mention in rambling Jackson Baker post, wherein the Memphis Flyer sage — also citing Williams as a source — notes that other names mentioned as possible Republican opponents for Corker include Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, State House Representative Andy Holt and Americans for Prosperity Tennessee state director Andrew Ogles.

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Trump reported unlikely to nominate new TVA board members until September

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have submitted recommendations to President Trump for filling five vacancies on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors, Corker tells Michael Collins. The senators’ suggestions aren’t provided, but there’s a rundown on some names mentioned otherwise.

State Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, confirmed that he’s interested. (Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, was interested earlier, but his withdrawn his name from consideration – previous post (HERE).

“Senator Alexander and I submitted our recommendations to the White House earlier this year,” Corker said. “We remain in close contact with the administration and have urged them to make nominations to fill out the board very soon.”

…Knoxville attorney Jeff Hagood, Oak Ridge National Laboratory executive Jeff Smith and former Virginia state Sen. William C. Wampler – the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker and the son of a former Republican congressman – also have been in touch with Congress members about serving on the board.

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Corker criticizes investment tax cut in GOP health care bill

Sen. Bob Corker has drawn national media attention with criticism of the Senate Republican health care bill for cutting taxes on the wealthy while reducing benefits for the poor. But  the Tennessee Republican tells the Times Free Press that he thinks Republican leaders are agreeable to removing the $372 billion investment tax break.

“It’s been an issue for some time, and I just don’t think it’s sustainable to look at lowering taxes on the wealthy and at the same time placing a greater burden on low-income citizens that are on the exchange,” the former Chattanooga mayor said in an interview. “I feel it’s going to be resolved, and I think that will be a very good step forward.”

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