Marsha Blackburn

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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Democrat announces run in 6th Congressional District

Justin Kanew, a past contestant on the TV show “Amazing Race” who moved to Tennessee last year, tells The Tennessean he’s running for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the 2018 7th Congressional District election.

Kanew said he feels driven to step up in the ongoing battle over health care to fight the alternative proposal pushed by President Donald Trump to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s a cruel bill and we need as many people as possible in Congress that are are willing to fight against something like this,” he said of Republicans’ alternative health care plan. “This is exactly the kind of thing that shows there are people putting corporations and the wealthy ahead of the people of Tennessee.”

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Blackburn bashes Trump for ‘inappropriate and pointless’ tweets

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, usually a staunch supporter of President Trump, has denounced as “inappropriate and pointless” recent Trump tweets bashing two TV show hosts. Several other Republicans have done the same.

Blackburn’s comment came in a Facebook Post, HERE, that was also distributed to media and published in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle HERE. Michael Collins provides some excerpts:

The Brentwood Republican lamented that civil debate over policy disagreements has taken a back seat to “thin-skin and knee-jerk reactions to hyper-partisan comments and, unfortunately, unfounded character attacks.”

“In this era of 24/7 worldwide news, the president of the United States represents each and every one of us on the world stage,” Blackburn wrote. “We are right to expect a higher level of civility, graciousness and diplomacy from our president. We expect the individual who holds the office and the title to rise above the hubris and noise of the day.”

“While the president is human and fallible like the rest of us, this current trend needs to stop,” Blackburn continued. “This week’s tweets were a step too far, regardless of what personal exchanges or insults had been hurled.”

Politico has a lengthy report on other Republican critics of the tweets. An excerpt:

In a two-part tweet, Trump said he “heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore).” He then went on to hit (host Mika) Brzezinski: “how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

… “Obviously, I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday during his weekly press conference, adding, “Look, what we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate, and this obviously doesn’t help do that.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went further, tweeting, “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.”

TV ad criticizes Blackburn for working with ‘liberal Massachusetts senator’ on hearing aid bill

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is being attacked in a TV ad campaign for working with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in supporting  legislation that would allow over-the-counter sales of hearing aids, reports Buzzfeed.

Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative educational foundation, is launching a six-figure advertising campaign to derail the Massachusetts Democrat and potential 2020 presidential candidate in her bipartisan push to allow for over-the-counter hearing aid sales.

To do so, the group is aiming to discourage supportive Republicans by linking them to a New England liberal. Commercials will air in three GOP congressional districts, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s in Tennessee. Blackburn was an original co-sponsor of the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 in the House.

“Liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is at it again,” a narrator says in the spot targeting Blackburn. “But this time she has help — help from our Republican congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn. Warren and Blackburn have introduced hearing aid legislation that will eliminate states’ rights, expand the size and power of the federal government, resulting in higher prices for consumers. We expect these bait-and-switch liberal tactics from Elizabeth Warren, not Marsha Blackburn. Call Marsha Blackburn and tell her to represent our Tennessee values, not those of a liberal Massachusetts senator.”

The ad campaign is another example of Republican-allied organizations aiming to weaken Warren ahead of her 2018 re-election bid and any future run for the White House. (America Rising, a GOP opposition research group, already has made Warren a top target.) But in this case, a low-key policy issue is at the center of the fight, and Frontiers of Freedom is going so far as to signal that Republicans who work with Warren do so at their political risk.

Besides, Blackburn, Frontiers of Freedom is airing ads in districts represented by Buddy Carter of Georgia and Michael Burgess of Texas. Like Blackburn, they are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will tackle the bill. Carter also is an original co-sponsor. Burgess presides over the Health subcommittee.

Blackburn to seek reelection to House seat

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, subject of speculation as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Bob Corker, tells The Tennessean she will instead just seek reelection next year to a ninth term representing Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District.

“I am running for re-election to the House of Representatives,” Blackburn, R-Brentwood, told the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee on Tuesday. “That is my focus.”

…Blackburn, who has increased her national profile in recent years and spoke at last year’s Republican National Convention, has served in Congress since 2002.

While state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, who recently said he would not be running for governor, lives in Blackburn’s district and expressed interest in serving the state from Washington, D.C., it is unclear whether he would challenge her.

The more likely scenario for Green would be to run for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, in the event that she enters the governor’s race. Black hasn’t announced her intentions but is expected to launch her campaign this summer.

The Constitution does not require U.S. House candidates to live in the district they are seeking to represent. House members must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years and live in the same state as the district they want to represent.

Blackburn a star in Internet privacy debate

Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn got national attention for her leading role in the U.S. House’s approval of a bill widely characterized as repealing existing Internet privacy protections, including Friday some data-crunching on campaign finances by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican and vocal proponent of killing the rule, said this week that allowing the FTC and FCC to regulate different parts of the internet will “create confusion within the Internet ecosystem and end up harming consumers.”

Critics of that view say it’s hard to see how stronger protection of consumer privacy will hurt those consumers. In addition, ISPs “provide an essential service,” said Laura Moy, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University and expert on technology and the law — and many Americans have little or no choice about their providers. “Maybe the answer is to regulate everyone more closely.”

… We took a look at the contributions received by members of the House and Senate from the telecom industry.

Here’s what we found: On the House side, while there wasn’t a huge difference in overall funds received by lawmakers voting for or against the resolution, there was a gap in the Republican vote. GOP lawmakers who voted to quash the rule received an average of $138,000 from the industry over the course of their careers.

The 15 Republicans voting nay? They got just $77,000… Blackburn has received close to $564,000 from the telecom industry over the course of her House career.

As noted by the Nashville Scene, Late Show host Steven Colbert lampooned Blackburn a bit over the matter:

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Blackburn holds broadband conference, bans media coverage

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn met with “what appeared to be at least 100 area business and electrical coop executives at Columbia State Community College” – plus, reportedly, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – but barred media from attending, according to the Marshall County Tribune.

When your editor of the Marshall County Tribune attempted to gain access to the meeting, Blackburn’s Press Secretary Abby Lemons said, “This meeting is closed to press. This meeting is off the record.”

…Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) left Blackburn’s meeting to discuss with the Tribune Governor Haslam’s Rural Broadband initiative, announced recently.

The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act will provide $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the law will permit the state’s private, nonprofit electrical cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve digital literacy skills to maximize the benefits of broadband.

Many of the businesses represented at the meeting could be in competition for the same customers.

Tennessee taxpayers will pay for Internet service where it doesn’t exist now, and it might make all internet service faster.

“We need better access, not bigger government,” Sen. Norris said. “Broadband is critical to commerce and the quality of life for every Tennessean and is essential for our current and future education and economic initiatives.”

Blackburn holds a town hall meeting; protesters hold ‘alternative’

Protesters held what they called an “Alternative Town Hall” meeting Tuesday outside of the Fairview City Hall where U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, took questions in a Town Hall meeting. Media

Inside, Blackburn “took on pointed questions about President Donald Trump’s first month in office and plans to replace the Affordable Care Act,” reports WPLN.

There were groans as Blackburn defended Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education. And also when Blackburn defended the Republican Congress and the Trump administration on issues like the environment, abortion and immigration.

But there was none of the sustained booing or derisive chants that have characterized town halls in other parts of the country.

One questioner was James Burks, a Brentwood resident and retired educator. Burks is fighting late-stage cancer. He’s received multiple amputations, including of his right arm, and he says his treatments cost $22,000 a visit.

Burks urged Blackburn to work across the aisle to deal with soaring health care costs. It drew the biggest applause of the event.

“I wanted the message to get across that we’re not Democrats and Republicans opposed to one another,” he said afterward. “The people on the lawn, that are marching in the streets and so on, are a mixture of people who have a need to be heard.”

Further from WTVF-TV:

While Blackburn took questions inside, people rallied at the “alternative” town hall. The crowd chanted and speakers talked about their frustrations with the current administration.

Event organizer Bernie Ellis explained that as part of the alternative town hall, constituents of congressman Blackburn recorded messages and questions for Blackburn which will be sent to her office.

“This really is an opportunity to go on tape asking the representative a question or sharing a concern with her, something that I don’t think has ever been done in this kind of way,” he said.

…Congressman Blackburn did address the crowd briefly after the town hall meeting, saying she appreciates the opinions of her constituents and hopes they can work together in the future.

Note: The event drew lots of media attention and reports vary on size of the crowds. The Tennessean’s report estimates about 130 inside; 80 outside.

National park designation sought for James K. Polk home

News release from Rep. Scott DesJarlais

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Scott DesJarlais and Marsha Blackburn joined Senator Lamar Alexander today to introduce the James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act in Congress. Their legislation would require the Interior Department to study the “suitability and feasibility” of designating the President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tennessee, a unit of the National Park Service.

The designation would ensure preservation of the historic site, which a nonprofit organization currently operates with limited state funding.“Tennessee has played an enormous role in the history of our country, especially its early founding, when leaders like Andrew Jackson and James Polk gave voice to western settlers and helped to create a land of vast expanse and opportunity for Americans,” said Rep. DesJarlais (R-TN-04). “I’m proud to join my colleagues and museum staff to help preserve the legacy of a great yet overlooked president, who called the Fourth District home.”

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Blackburn-chaired Republican abortion investigators issue final report

Republicans on a congressional panel investigating the medical and business practices of abortion providers are calling on the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood and limit the use of fetal tissue for scientific research, reports Michael Collins.

In their final 471-page report, made public Wednesday, Republicans who make up a majority on the 14-member panel made nearly two dozen recommendations that they argued would protect women and unborn children while allowing scientific access to human fetal tissue when warranted.
“It is my hope that our recommendations will result in some necessary changes within both the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries,” said the panel’s chairwoman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
But the panel’s Democrats blasted the report as flawed and charged it had been drafted in secret without any input from them.
“The panel’s so-called ‘final report’ is illegitimate,” said its top Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.
Schakowsky said the panel “leaves behind a legacy of lies, intimidation and procedural misconduct” and will be remembered “like the House Un-American Activities Committee and McCarthy hearings for its excesses and abuses of power.”
The report brings to a close the work of the panel, formally known as the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which spent the past year and more than $1.5 million investigating how abortion providers handle fetal tissue.
… Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a member of the panel, said the investigation showed the abortion industry is driven by profit and “unconcerned by matters of basic ethics.”
“The findings of this panel should incense all people of conscience,” Black said.


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

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