congress

Cohen proposes impeachment of Trump over Charlottesville comments

News release from Rep. Steve Cohen

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, today announced that he will be introducing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump following the President’s comments on the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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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

Some TN political junkie reading suggestions, 8/7/2017

On members of Congress running for governor

Diane Black is one of nine current members of the U.S. House who have announced as candidates for governor in their home state and a “handful of others” are mulling the possibility, reports Politico.

But most of the aspiring governors are vacating the comfy confines of safe congressional districts for what, historically, has been a bad bet. The last time this many sitting representatives ran for governor, in 2006, twice as many lost as won.

… The aspiring governors in Ohio and Tennessee have slightly better historical records to fall back on. Both states have seen three sitting lawmakers elected governor since the turn of the 20th century. But the most recent in Ohio is Democrat Ted Strickland in 2006 and in Tennessee, and it’s been nearly a quarter-century since Republican Don Sundquist won in Tennessee, Ostermeier said

TN history note: Before Sundquist, the last member of Congress elected as Tennessee governor was Democrat Ray Blanton in 1974. And before that, it was Democrat Gordon Browning in 1936 (after trying an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1934).  Browning then lost a bid for reelection, but returned to win the governor’s office again in 1948.

Just a guess, but Black probably will not be emphasizing her historical predecessors in the coming campaign.

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Black remains as House Budget Committee chair — at least until September

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is intent on maintaining her chairmanship despite announcing plans Wednesday to run for governor in her home state, reports The Hill.

“She will remain chairman for the time being and is focused on getting this budget across the finish line,” a spokesman for Black said.

But a 2014 GOP rule named for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would prohibit Black from staying in the position while running for outside office unless she obtains a waiver.

Black ushered the House Budget resolution through the committee, but so far has not garnered enough support to pass it on the House floor.

It is unclear exactly when she would be required to give up her gavel. The House is in recess until September, and the Republican Steering Committee, which makes the call on waivers and new chairmen, will also be out until then.

Other committee members are already eyeing the position, with Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) seeking to take over. Another committee member, House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), also floated the possibility of getting the gavel.

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.

 

TN politician comments on Congressman Duncan’s retirement

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett (via News Sentinel)

“I am grateful for Congressman Duncan’s friendship, and I appreciate the years of service he and his family have dedicated to our community… He has been a consistent, conservative voice for the 2nd District, and he’s represented us well. Few families have made a bigger impact in East Tennessee than the Duncan family, and I have no doubt they will continue to make a difference.

In an interview after Duncan’s announcement, Burchett declined to say whether he intends to run for Duncan’s seat. “I’ll still be making my announcement on Saturday,” he said. “I think it’s time we reflected on Congressman Duncan and his family’s service to our community.”

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock

“We just learned of the announcement by Congressman Jimmy Duncan not to seek another term of office. I can think of no one who has conducted himself in a more statesmanlike, humble manner. In over 30 years of working with him, I’ve never been around an individual who woke up every day with such zeal to serve his constituents. He has set the bar so high that we will have a difficult task of trying to meet that level of devotion and character in our district and in our nation. I wish to give a heartfelt thank you to Congressman Duncan from myself and my family for his years of service.”

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Alexander, Corker, Blackburn and DesJarlais lose 18 staffers (combined) to Trump administration

Eighteen congressional staff employees who were working for members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation have moved to positions working for President Donald Trump administration since January, reports Michael Collins.

Sen. Lamar Alexander has lost 10 staffers from the Senate office committee he chairs and his own office. Sen. Bob Corker has similarly seen six staffers depart to join Trump. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais each have lost one staffer to Trump’s team.

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Black bashes Senate for failure to pass Obamacare repeal bill (a ‘slap in the face’ to voters)

News release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black

Washington, D.C. – House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black released the following statement after the Senate’s failure to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare:

“After seven years of promising the American people that we would save them from Obamacare, the Senate last night broke their promise. After months of debate, they failed to find even a single piece of health care legislation that they could support, including the same bill they passed in 2015, and then they gave up. This is unacceptable.

The House has done its work. We passed a bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered health care system almost three months ago. The Senate’s failure to even continue the legislative process is a slap in the face to the voters that trusted and elected them. They deserve better. I urge my colleagues in the Senate not to quit and to keep fighting to keep their promise and save the American people from Obamacare.”

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.

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