Category Archives: Lamar Alexander

Haslam hosts private fundraiser for Rubio at executive residence

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam hosted a private fundraiser for Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign for reelection at the state’s executive residence Monday, reports The Tennessean.

The event, which Rubio attended, was co-hosted by Tennessee’s Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Corker was present for the fundraiser, but Alexander had to return to Washington D.C. from East Tennessee on Monday and was not in attendance, said an aide for the senator.

Haslam and Alexander endorsed Rubio’s Republican presidential primary bid days ahead of Tennessee’s March primary, just as Donald Trump had started to solidify himself as the GOP frontrunner. Their help fell short, however, as Rubio won only one of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Trump won the state in a landslide.

Rubio, after losing his presidential bid, opted to run for reelection and is now looking to stave off Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, a two-term Florida congressman.

The Rubio fundraiser marks the second campaign fundraiser that Haslam has held in recent months at the governor’s mansion, which is located in Nashville’s Oak Hill neighborhood.

Haslam in July hosted a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, ahead of her primary election against challenger Joe Carr.

Tennessee state Democrats criticized the governor for holding that event, arguing that the taxpayer-funded governor’s home is not a place where campaign events should be held.

Alexander, other GOP senators, propose Obamacare ‘options’

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14—A group of eight United States Senators today introduced emergency, one-year legislation that would give states the authority to allow Americans who rely on Obamacare subsidies to have more options to buy health insurance unavailable on the failing Obamacare exchanges, and waive any penalty if they do not find a plan that suits their or their family’s needs.

Senate health committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: “If you aren’t on Medicare or Medicaid and don’t obtain your health insurance through your employer, you are probably one of the nearly 11 million Americans who purchase their insurance on their own through the Obamacare exchange in your state.

“And you’ve probably read in the news that rates may be 60 percent higher next year than they were this year for the same insurance policy. And come November, nearly a third of the nation’s counties will have only one insurer for you to choose from when you have to buy health insurance on the regional Obamacare exchange as the market collapses and insurance companies are leaving the Obamacare exchanges in droves. This legislation would allow your state to give you the option of buying health insurance wherever you can find it whether on or off the Obamacare exchange.”

“This one-year solution is not a substitute for the long-term need to repeal and replace Obamacare with step-by-step reforms that transform the health care delivery system by putting patients in charge, giving them more choices and reducing the cost of health care so that more people can afford it,” he continued. “That would require a Republican president next year, but it gives Americans a real solution for next year and lets them know that we are on their side. Even if we have a Democratic president next year, we cannot continue without making big, structural changes soon to avoid a collapse of our nation’s health insurance markets.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said: “More than 11,000 people in my home state recently learned that they would have to find a new health care plan after an insurer announced that it would be leaving the New Hampshire partnership exchange next year. Higher premiums and fewer choices are impacting real people today, and hardworking Granite Staters can’t afford to keep taking these hits. Our legislation would provide a temporary means to lessen the burdens of ObamaCare on New Hampshire families and individuals by allowing eligible individuals to use a subsidy to purchase health insurance outside of the exchanges, which may offer less expensive options than plans available through the exchanges.  This bill will help bring back some much-needed flexibility and choice in the health insurance marketplace, both of which ObamaCare has limited.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said: “In more than half of all counties in America, there will be only be two or fewer carriers offering coverage on the Obamacare exchange. Hard-working families facing higher premiums because of Obamacare deserve relief.  This legislation will give families more choices in 2017, as Republicans work to replace this failed law with real reforms that will make health care more affordable for all Americans.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said: “Time has shown that Obamacare is resulting in fewer and more expensive choices for the American people.  This legislation would increase options for families in Mississippi and elsewhere to obtain health insurance without being locked into troubled Obamacare exchanges,”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said: “I have worked for years to limit the damage and harm done to real people by Obamacare, a partisan policy that promised marketplace competition and higher quality health plans at lower costs and instead delivered the exact opposite. This bill would provide necessary relief to Wisconsinites who, under Obamacare, would be penalized for not purchasing a product that they cannot afford or does not meet their needs. It will allow the state to provide Wisconsinites receiving subsidies more options that just those offered on the Obamacare exchanges for 2017.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said: “Ohioans need immediate relief from the skyrocketing cost of Obamacare. Premiums have increased in Ohio more than 90% since the President’s health care law went into place. This bill would provide individuals who have suffered under the high costs and fewer choices of Obamacare more options to receive coverage—which means more competition which in turn brings down costs. After eight years of stagnating wages, slow economic growth, and a rising cost of living, Ohioans deserve the relief this legislation would provide, not a health care system they can’t afford.”                                                             
The legislation, introduced by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would:

        Give states with a failing Obamacare exchange the authority to allow residents to use their Obamacare subsidy to purchase any health plan of their choice, even those off the exchange, for the 2017 plan year.

        If the state chooses to use this authority to allow residents to use subsidies outside of the exchange, the legislation will waive the Obamacare law’s requirement that you must buy a specific health care plan or pay a fine of as much as $2,000 for a family of four next year.

A summary of the State Flexibility to Provide Affordable Health Options Act is available online HERE.

Poll finds Alexander, Corker with 51% approval

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both have 51 percent approval ratings among their constituents, according to national polling on the popularity of all 100 U.S. senators by Morning Consult.

Alexander had a 30 percent disapproval rating; Corker was at 29 percent. They thus avoided listing among the top ten most popular senators among their constituents as well as the ten least popular.

Excerpt from the news release:

In the latest edition of Morning Consult’s Senator Approval Rankings, Bernie Sanders is more popular than ever among Vermonters. The progressive independent who gave Hillary Clinton a major headache in the presidential primary has an 87 percent approval rating in his home state. That’s a sizable jump from his already high 80 percent approval rating in April, when Morning Consult compiled favorability ratings collected throughout the beginning of the year.

Based on interviews with almost 72,000 registered voters since May, Morning Consult crunched how constituents feel about their home-state senators… Sanders maintains his spot at the top of the list for most popular senator, a distinction that appears long lasting. He was at 83 percent approval last year, and no other senator had a higher rating.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) retains the distinction of the least popular senator among his home-state constituents, with a disapproval rating of 51 percent. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has soured with Silver State voters and is now the third-least popular senator, with a 43 percent disapproval rating. That’s up two spots from earlier this year.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) retains her slot as second-most popular senator, but her favorability in Maine (69 percent) has dropped 10 percentage points from the first few months of the year, before she declined to endorse Donald Trump for president.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio’s favorability has barely changed (from 45 percent to 46 percent) since the incumbent senator changed his mind about not running for re-election and cruised to victory in the primary after most of his opponents dropped out.

Note: The full release with a list of all senators, along with top ten and bottom ten listings, is HERE.

Lamar says Republicans need to make a deal on Obamacare

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says that his work with Democrats in an overhaul of the federal No Child Left Behind law could be a model for an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and that’s something Republicans need to address next year. So reports Politico.
“Whoever the president is in January, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at Obamacare,” Alexander told Politico. “I don’t think Republicans can go another four years, whether we have a Republican president or not, and say, ‘Just give us a couple more Republicans and we’ll repeal Obamacare.’ ”

The Republican lawmaker says his own committee’s bipartisan work on the No Child Left Behind education bill created a clear template for finding common ground on health care. That sweeping overhaul of a 14-year-old education law passed with bipartisan support last year. President Barack Obama himself called it a “Christmas miracle.”

“One reason I’ve enjoyed working with Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee is that she’s results-oriented,” Alexander says. “We can focus on the 80 percent we agree with and fight about the 20 percent another day.”

But Obama hasn’t proved to be a good partner on health care, Alexander maintained. He’s hoping that the next president — whoever he or she may be — will be more receptive.

“Hillary Clinton is married to a fellow who made a lot of deals as president,” Alexander said. “And if she shows an aptitude for taking a position, listening to other people and looking for the 80 percent instead of the 20 — or if Mr. Trump does, if he’s the president — then we can improve the health care system.”

Alexander ready to deal with Democrats on Obamacare

Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s more than happy to strike deals with Democrats — even on Obamacare. So reports Politico.

“Whoever the president is in January, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at Obamacare,” the powerful chairman of the Senate HELP committee told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast. “It can’t continue the way it is.”

“I don’t think Republicans can go another four years, whether we have a Republican president or not, and say just give us a couple more Republicans and we’ll repeal Obamacare,” he added.

Alexander laid out several changes that he’d like to see in health care: Less government “management,” more support of private sector innovation and more flexibility for states on Medicaid. He also credited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s recent white paper that summarized Republican health care proposals as a “helpful” starting point, though he didn’t explicitly endorse the House GOP’s insistence on replacing the whole law

The Republican lawmaker says his own committee’s bipartisan work on the No Child Left Behind education bill created a clear template for finding common ground on health care. That sweeping overhaul of a 14-year-old education law passed with bipartisan support last year. President Barack Obama himself called it a “Christmas miracle.”

“One reason I’ve enjoyed working with Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the [HELP] Committee is that she’s results-oriented,” Alexander says. “We can focus on the 80 percent we agree with and fight about the 20 percent another day.”

But Obama hasn’t proved to be a good partner on health care, Alexander maintained. He’s hoping that the next president — whoever he or she may be — will be more receptive.

“Hillary Clinton is married to a fellow who made a lot of deals as president,” Alexander said. “And if she shows an aptitude for taking a position, listening to other people and looking for the 80 percent instead of the 20 — or if Mr. Trump does, if he’s the president — then we can improve the health care system.”

Alexander, Corker stick to party line in Senate gun votes

Tennnessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker backed two Republican proposals Monday designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists but voted against two Democratic gun measures that would have been more restrictive, reports Michael Collins.
All four measures fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

Alexander and Corker voted in favor of a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have let federal law enforcement officials delay gun sales to suspected terrorists — including those on watch and no-fly lists — for three days and then halt the sales, but only after proving probable cause before a judge.

…The Tennessee senators also supported a separate proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that called for research on the causes of mass shootings and would have increased funding for the background check system, but would not have expanded the types of gun sales that require them.

…Senate Democrats argued the Republican proposals were inadequate. They offered their own gun-control proposals.

One would have allowed the attorney general to deny a gun sale to anyone if she has a “reasonable belief” — a lesser standard than “probable cause” — that the buyer was likely to engage in terrorism. The other would have closed the “gun show loophole” by requiring every gun purchaser to undergo a background check, and would have expanded the background check database.

Alexander and Corker voted against both measures.

Note: The press release spin from Alexander is HERE; from Corker, HERE.

Trump has TN native, now Washington insider, helping pick a running mate

From a Michael Collins report:
The attorney Donald Trump has chosen to help select his vice-presidential running mate is known by friends and acquaintances as an unpretentious, easy-going Tennessee native who has moved for decades within Washington’s power circles but prefers not to call attention to himself.

A.B. Culvahouse, they say, is the opposite of the bombastic, over-the-top New Yorker.

“He’s a common-sense, get-it-done lawyer (who) knows Washington and government well and is as honest as the day is long,” said Tom Ingram, a longtime political consultant in Tennessee. “I just can’t think of anybody better for Trump to ask to play a major role like this.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has known Culvahouse for years, said he can think of no attorney more accomplished in law and in government than his fellow East Tennessean, who as White House counsel guided President Ronald Reagan through the dark days of the Iran-Contra scandal.

“If I were in trouble with the government or the private sector,” Alexander said, “the lawyer I would want to hire would be A.B. Culvahouse.”

In his new role, Culvahouse will be responsible for interviewing Trump’s list of potential running mates, delving into their backgrounds to spot potential problems, then telling the presumptive GOP nominee who would make the best vice president.

Culvahouse heads into the job fully aware of its challenges and pitfalls. He has helped potential running mates navigate the vetting process in four presidential elections. He led the vice presidential vetting process for the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and was soundly criticized when McCain picked then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom many considered woefully unprepared for the job.

“He was vilified, to a degree, over that,” said longtime acquaintance Fred Marcum. “But you are always going to have people who may not like whatever choice you make. That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla. Nobody likes the same thing.”

…For all of his success in law and in politics, Culvahouse, 67, hasn’t let Washington change him and still possesses the values instilled in him while he was growing up in rural East Tennessee, his friends say.

Culvahouse was born, fittingly, on the Fourth of July and raised in tiny Ten Mile, an unincorporated speck on the map that straddles Meigs and Roane counties and is now a summer cottage community for nearby Watts Bar Lake. Over dinner recently, Culvahouse shared with Alexander that he was looking forward to returning to Ten Mile for his 50th high school reunion.

Culvahouse’s entrée to Washington came in 1973 when then-Sen. Howard Baker Jr. — a legend in Tennessee politics and a powerhouse in Congress — hired him as his chief legislative assistant and counsel…. When Reagan tapped Baker as his chief of staff in 1987, Baker announced Culvahouse would join him at the White House as Reagan’s counsel.

Lamar and Joe Carr both oppose Cumberland wind farm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is urging his fellow Tennesseans to oppose what he calls an “unsightly” wind farm near the Cumberland Mountain State Park.

The longtime supporter of nuclear power argued on the Senate floor this week that the 23 wind turbines Apex Clean Energy wants to install are “massive” and would spoil the “natural beauty of our state.”

“We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it,” said Alexander, arguing that wind energy is being fueled by “billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies” to out-of-state companies.

Apex counters that the $130 million project will emit no pollution and create no hazardous waste as it provides a safe energy alternative near wildlife and natural areas.

Spokesman Kevin Chandler said officials at the Charlottesville, Virginia-based company were disappointed Alexander hadn’t gotten into touch to discuss his concerns.

“But we have greatly appreciated the local welcome we’ve received in Cumberland County and look forward to making this project a reality,” Chandler said.

The wind farm near Crossville, about 100 miles east of Nashville, is projected to power 20,000 homes. It is located on a privately-owned 1,800 acre site behind a limestone quarry, though the turbines would be visible from Interstate 40.

“This project will help bring about cleaner, healthier air, reduce pollution, and create economic growth and jobs in Cumberland County,” Chandler said.

Note: Alexander’s full news release is HERE. And below is a news release from Joe Carr, Alexander’s chief opponent in the 2014 Republican primary, while campaigning in Cumberland County for the 6th Congressional District seat. Continue reading

TN Republicans join in bashing Obama bathroom directive

Some Tennessee Republican politicians have joined other members of the party in bashing a directive from the Obama administration that calls on schools to allow use of bathrooms based on an individual’s “gender identity.”

Republican state Rep. Susan Lynn of Wilson County, who unsuccessfully sponsored a bill in the legislature this year mandating use of school bathrooms based on the gender designated on birth certificates, was focus of a Tennessean story after a Facebook post on the subject. Excerpt:

“Transgenderism is a mental disorder called gender identity disorder — no one should be forced to entertain another’s mental disorder and it is not healthy for the individual with the disorder,” Lynn said in a list of responses to the federal directive.

“We can and we will legistativly (sic) protect children from hormone abuse — a directive has no impact on that issue only the Orwellian redefinition of sex would do that.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander news release:
WASHINGTON, May 13 – Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the Department of Education’s guidance to local school districts regarding transgender student’s use of public bathrooms:

“This is the kind of issue that parents, school boards, communities, students and teachers should be allowed to work out in a practical way with a maximum amount of respect for the individual rights of all students. Insofar as the federal government goes, it’s up to Congress to write the law, not the executive departments. And guidance issued by the departments does not amount to federal law and should not be treated as such.” Continue reading

AP report on U.S. Senate aging (Lamar, 75, younger than several)

By Richard Lardner, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Millennials have emerged as the nation’s largest living generation yet that demographic shift isn’t reflected in the upper reaches of the Republican-controlled Senate, where the body’s oldest members are the power brokers.

And several are asking voters for new six-year terms.

At 82, Chuck Grassley wants Iowans to send him back to the Senate for a seventh time. The Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee pitches his seniority as a plus, telling voters he gives them a “big voice at the policymaking tables” in Washington.

Arizona’s John McCain, the 79-year-old chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also is running for re-election. So are Richard Shelby of Alabama, the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee chairman who turned 82 on Friday, and 71-year-old Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who leads the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate’s ethics panel.

Other committees are controlled by senior Republicans whose terms don’t end for at least a few more years. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Finance Committee, is 82 and has been a senator since 1977 — the same year Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as president, Elvis Presley died and the first Stars Wars movie came out.
Continue reading