congress

Alexander hails passage of bill to preserve civil rights history sites

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, December 22, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate has sent President Trump legislation to be signed into law that will recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including two potential sites in Memphis. Alexander said the legislation will preserve history for the next generation.

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Alexander gives up on Obamacare premium fix — until February or so

Joint press release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and  Susan Collins

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2017—United States Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today jointly released the following statement:

“Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,” said the Senators.  “For this reason, we have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation which independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman say would reduce premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market. Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.

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Hatch ‘disgusted’ with Corker kickback claims

As the U.S. Senate prepared for a vote on federal tax overhaul legislation, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker’s shift from no to yes “swirled into a political firestorm,” according to Politico. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch on Tuesday sent Corker a letter basically declaring there was no “Corker kickback” – a label some have been using.

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Corker surprised by special tax cut for his commercial real estate business

The latest version of the federal tax bill that Congress is expected to approve this week includes a provision that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says caught him by surprise. It’s a tax break that would benefit persons with large commercial real estate holdings – such as Corker – and the senator has asked for an explanation.

Excerpt from a letter the Tennessee Republican sent Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Sunday, as reported by Bloomberg News.

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Corker flips — will vote for GOP tax bill after all

Press release from Sen. Bob Corker

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today announced his support for the tax reform legislation developed by members of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Conference Committee.

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Haslam: GOP tax bill will bring more immigration to TN from other states

Gov. Bill Haslam says more people from states such as New York,  New Jersey and California are likely to move to Tennessee with enactment of a Republican federal tax package that eliminates current deductions for payment of state and local taxes, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

As Haslam explains it, those living in states with higher tax rates currently see a greater federal tax deduction. Residents in Tennessee, a low-tax state, don’t benefit as much from the state and local tax deduction.

“That changes now,” Haslam said, speaking Monday at Nissan’s Smyrna plant. “A lot of people who live in states with income tax of 10 or 12 percent start going, ‘Huh, well, only having to pay half is not such a bad deal, but if I’m having to pay all of it, maybe I’d be better off in Tennessee.’ We think it actually will encourage both investment growth and population growth in Tennessee.”

William Fox, an economist at University of Tennessee Knoxville, said research shows  tax rates can affect where people leave, but the impact is small. And there are several caveats to keep in mind with that calculation. Taxes pay for services, so when changing residences, an individual may also be giving up tax-funded services they enjoy.

“There is a small impact of taxes on where people live,” Fox said. “With the elimination of the deductibility, you make it more expensive to live in high-tax states.”

Another point to keep in mind, Fox said, is that the elimination of state and local tax deductions only affects those who itemize tax returns. Thirty percent of taxpayers itemized deductions in 2014, according to the Tax Policy Center. For those individuals, ending the state and local tax deduction would make Tennessee more attractive, he said.

Black appointed to House-Senate conference committee on tax legislation

Press release from U.S. House Budget Committee

Washington, D.C. – House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a motion to go to conference with the Senate in order to deliver tax reform for the first time in more than three decades. Chairman Black has been appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve on the conference committee.

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U.S. Senate panel hears from Trump nominees to TVA board

A U.S. Senate subcommittee heard testimony Tuesday from President Trump’s four nominees to the TVA Board of Directors. Jeffrey Smith, deputy director of operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the only Tennessean among the four, emphasized the need for clean energy in recruiting new business investment within the region, reports WPLN.  No vote was taken.

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NAACP affiliate opposes Norris confirmation as federal judge

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) announced its opposition to the confirmation of state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) as a federal judge, reports Nashville Post. At least two other ‘progressive groups’ are opposing confirmation.

Norris, an attorney with Adams and Reese, was nominated to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee by President Donald Trump earlier this year. He was questione by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in October, but it has not yet voted on his nomination. If the committee votes in favor of his appointment, the vote would move to the full Senate.

In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, Sherrilyn A. Ifill, the president of the LDF (a separate institution from the NCAAP itself) cites concerns with Norris’s record as a legislator.

“Norris has developed an appalling record opposing equal rights that stands out even among President Trump’s long line of anti-civil rights nominees,” Ifill writes. “Norris’s record of hostility toward vulnerable and marginalized communities in Tennessee – that is, the very people who depend most on the courts to protect their rights – shows that he cannot fairly and impartially provide equal justice under the law.”

 

Corker gets requested revision and votes for Senate GOP tax bill; Alexander involved with Obamacare deal

The Senate Budget Committee voted to advance the GOP tax reform bill on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with both Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) backing the measure a day after threatening to withhold their support, reports Politico.  That critical vote came after President Donald Trump came to Capitol Hill to rally the troops in the tax battle.

Johnson voted for the tax bill after a back-and-forth with Trump during the lunch, according to multiple sources, over the Wisconsin Republican’s main concern: that the proposal currently gives more benefits to corporations than to businesses that pay taxes through the individual system.

… Corker, one of the fiscal hawks concerned about the deficit impact of tax cuts, said he was satisfied with details for a “trigger” to reverse tax cuts if economic growth fell short of projections in years to come. He expects details to be released Thursday.

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