Donald Trump

DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

Even some conservatives – including Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — seem open to return to earmarks since President Trump floated the idea, reports The Hill.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

…But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.”

If earmarks were restored, “I can be more of a spokesman for the people in Tennessee who need it,” DesJarlais continued. “There is an overpass in Rutherford County that we need to get funding for. We’ve got things up in Nashville, the Percy Priest Reservoir … so yeah, I would like to have a better voice.

“I don’t know if earmarks is the answer. I’ve never had them, so I don’t know if it’s good or not.”

Other conservatives also expressed openness to allowing earmarks or something similar, saying that ensuring money for specific projects would give the legislative branch more power.

… Trump said at a White House meeting with roughly two dozen lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should consider allowing earmarks again.

He suggested that doing so would allow Congress to function better, lamenting that the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control.”

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump said. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” Trump added.

Nashville attorney Paul Ney nominated as counsel for U.S. Department of Defense

President Donald Trump has nominated Nashville attorney Paul Ney to become general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, the White House announced Monday.

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Senate confirms ‘Chip’ Campbell as federal judge for Middle TN

The U.S. Senate Tuesday voted 97-0 to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Nashville attorney William “Chip” Campbell as a U.S. District Court judge for Middle Tennessee. Confirmation of three other nominees for judicial post in Tennessee is still pending.

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Trump hails TN and its politicians — including Corker and Andrew Jackson

Tennessee Republican officials stood by President Donald Trump on stage Monday and much of the party’s congressional delegation rode Air Force One into Nashville for his speech to America’s farmers, according to the Associated Press. He also praised President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat.

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Press release on President Trump’s Nashville speech to farmers

Press release from the White House, Office of the Press Secretary

On January 13, 1992, President George H. W. Bush stepped to the podium at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri. The president had just returned from a 12-day trip across Asia, and he used his Farm Bureau speech to discuss what the future of trade might look like in a post-Soviet world.

“Our Asian allies understand that we don’t want handouts or a home-field trade advantage,” President Bush said. “We just want a level playing field. Give us a fair shot, and American workers will outthink, outwork, and outproduce anyone in the world.”

Fast forward 26 years, and rural America has been left behind in too many ways. Rural employment has grown slower than employment in urban areas and was slowest to recover from the Great Recession. Poverty rates remain disproportionately high in many rural communities. And according to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans—23 million people—lack sufficient broadband access.

Despite these and other struggles, no U.S. president had spoken at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting, one of rural America’s signature events, since the first President Bush did so in 1992.

On January 8, 2018, President Donald J. Trump broke that trend. He traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and delivered a major speech at the 2018 Farm Bureau convention.

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Trump traveling to TN with Corker, Black, Blackburn and Roe

U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, both campaigning for statewide office, and retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will join President Trump in flying to Nashville for a Monday afternoon speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, reports The Tennessean. So will U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who hasn’t officially said whether he’ll run for another term.

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Trump encourages Alexander to keep trying on Obamacare deal

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says President Donald Trump called him in late December to urge that the Tennessee Republican continue efforts to shore up health insurance markets, reports Politico in an article updating the Obamacare situation in Washington.

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Andrew Jackson magnolia dying at age of around 180 years

An enormous magnolia tree, said to have been planted on the White House grounds by President Andrew Jackson in honor of his wife, has become so damaged and decayed that it will be taken down, according to CNN.

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Trump schedules Jan. 8 speech to Farm Bureau at Nashville

Press release from Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will address farm and ranch families from across the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention, Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is honored to host our nation’s president,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a beef and poultry farmer from Georgia. “President Trump has said all along that he would make sure agriculture has a seat at the table when it comes to the top issues facing America’s farmers and ranchers. Now, it is our privilege to reserve a spot for him at our podium.”

(Note: The Tennessean says Trump’s speech will be the morning of Jan. 8, a day before the 2018 session of the state Legislature convenes. It will be his second trip to Nashville since his inauguration, the first being in March on the occasion of President Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday.)

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Senate confirms four Trump nominees to TVA board

The U.S. Senate has confirmed four of President Donald Trump’s nominees for positions on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nine-member board of directors, reports the Times Free Press.

Among those approved was Jeff Smith, deputy lab director for operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who was named to one of the five-year terms. Smith was the lone new appointee from Tennessee to the board that oversees TVA operations in all or parts of seven Southeastern states.

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