The Appalachian Regional Commission is one of 19 current federal agencies that would be defunded under President Trump’s proposed budget, but Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District says that’s probably not going to happen, reports the Johnson City Press.
The president’s proposal, subtitled “A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” provides increases to defense spending and law enforcement while eliminating the ARC’s $120 million appropriation, $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program — used by rural communities to provide housing, build infrastructure and stimulate job growth — and a slew of other domestic agencies and programs.
… In an emailed statement… Roe, R-Tenn., applauded the Trump budget proposal’s support for national defense and assured the safety of programs benefitting rural Appalachia.
… “In the weeks and months ahead, Congress will decide whether or not to adopt the president’s recommendations. Programs like the Appalachian Regional Commission, which does tremendous good for rural Appalachia, have bipartisan support in Congress and I don’t expect they will be eliminated. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the president to work toward getting our fiscal house in order and balancing our budget.”
Note: The Atlantic has a list of the 19 defunded agencies, including in its report this observation on eliminating the ARC: Its inclusion is notable, because it serves a region that largely supported Trump, and which he has promised to revive economically.
A ‘Kookfest’ at Duncan’s office
About 100 people who gathered outside U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan’s office Friday for what they called “Kookfest” in response to the congressman’s choice of words in a letter refusing to hold a town hall meeting, reports the News Sentinel. In the letter, he said such a meeting “would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals.”
They came to sign up for one-on-one meetings, as Duncan suggested in the letter, but were told to make their requests online.
“I was calling my congressman and two senators and felt like I was being blown off,” said Sarah Herron, founder of Indivisible East Tennessee and an organizer of Kookfest. “I was getting canned responses or template letters and I felt like, maybe if there was a group of us, it would be a more effective way to communicate.”
Indivisible East Tennessee is based off a national “Indivisible” movement inspired by the publication of the Indivisible Guide, an online guide published by former congressional staffers in the aftermath of Trump’s election with tips on the best ways to get the attention of members of Congress. The movement describes itself as a “practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda” and has spurred events similar to the march on Duncan’s office across the country.
A closed door at Roe’s office
About a dozen members of Indivisible Tennessee showed up at U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s district office seeking air concerns about the Trump presidency, reports the Kingsport Times-News.
The group didn’t immediately get into the Kingsport Higher Education Center, where Roe’s district office is located. Instead, the group was met in the parking lot by district Director John Abe Teague, who gave each member paperwork to fill out, asking for contact information and a list of their concerns.
That information, Teague promised, will be forwarded to the congressman.
In a separate blog post, reporter Hank Hayes says the office door was locked – noting the contrast with the late former Congressman Jimmy Quillen’s oft-declared policy of “my door is always open” – and Teague emerged only when a reporter showed up and knocked. Teague eventually agreed to let the group come inside to fill out the paperwork when it started to rain.
Protesters call for Puzder to ‘stay home’ in Franklin
Between 50 and 100 people gathered in the center of Franklin’s public square Saturday to send a message to Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s embattled nominee for labor secretary: Stay home, reports The Tennessean.
“Franklin is a beautiful place,” said Laura Gilbert, who is on the steering committee of Nashville Indivisible, which along with Middle Tennessee Jobs with Justice organized the protest. “Andy, welcome. Just stay home. Don’t go to Washington.”
Puzder is a Franklin resident and CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants. He’s faced criticism as Trump’s nominee but retained GOP support after he recently admitted he employed an undocumented housekeeper for years. His confirmation hearing, already postponed four times, is set for Feb. 16.
“I don’t feel that Puzder honors or respects workers, and I don’t believe he will uphold the labor laws,” said Karla Barde, a retired educator who held an American flag Saturday in protest of the nomination. “I don’t believe he respects women.”
Republican members of the Tennessee congressional delegation – especially Sen. Bob Corker – continue actively engaged in the maneuvering to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Here’s an excerpt on Thursday developments, mostly in the Senate, as reported by Politico (followed by PR releases from Corker and Sen. Lamar Alexander plus a bit on Rep. Phil Roe’s efforts):
Rep. Phil Roe, a Johnson City Republican representing Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District, has been named the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He will replace Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who is retiring.
The following is from Roe’s press release on the appointment:
“I am extremely honored and humbled to be given this opportunity. During my time in Congress, veterans’ issues have been a top priority for me, and this is not a responsibility I will take lightly. With scandal after scandal, it has become clear there’s no federal agency more in need of reform than the VA.