Both of Tennessee’s senators broke with their party to approve the President’s choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, reports WPLN. The bulk of the Senate’s Republicans worked to block Gina McCarthy at every stop along the nomination process, including an attempted filibuster. Only six GOP Senators voted in her favor.
While he deviated from the party’s efforts, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander cited the GOP as the reason why he voted for McCarthy. In a statement, Alexander pointed out that she has worked for five Republican governors and likely has better conservative credentials than anyone else President Obama would be likely to appoint.
…Tennessee’s other Senator, Bob Corker, was heavily involved in efforts to broker a deal with Democrats, heading off their use of the so-called “nuclear option” to ensure approval of the President’s nominees.
After striking that deal, Corker voted for Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
He and Alexander also helped Democrats ensure a vote on the nominee to the Labor Department by blocking any Republican chance at a filibuster. However, they did go on to vote against Thomas Perez’s confirmation, along with every other Republican.
From Roll Call:
A meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday grew tense as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his members he could have gotten a better deal on nominations than the one negotiated by rank-and-file Republicans.
McConnell’s tone, according to multiple sources, implied that he had been kept in the dark about the talks between some in his own ranks and Democrats. However, those same Republicans say they kept McConnell updated throughout their negotiating process.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., got so frustrated with McConnell’s presentation of events, that he called… (a word abbreviated b.s.) loud enough for the room to hear, nearly a half-dozen sources said. The heated exchange underscored the “buyer’s remorse” among some Republicans, especially leaders, one senior Republican said on background.
Corker’s office did not comment for this story.
Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker split their votes on confirming President Obama’s nominee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which came after a deal averted a threats Democratic threats to invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” reports Nooga.com. Alexander voted against confirmation of Richard Cordray; Corker for.
The move came after threats by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to espouse “the nuclear option,” a procedural tactic that would have allowed the number of votes needed to confirm presidential appointees to be 51 instead of the traditional 60-vote threshold.
Reid cited repeated filibusters by Republican senators as his reason for considering the tactic, drawing criticism from Alexander and others. Elements of Tuesday’s compromise were hashed out Monday night in a closed-door meeting of senators in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber.
As part of their deal, two new nominees for the National Labor Relations Board will be chosen as replacements for appointees picked by Obama during a recess in 2011. Votes will also be scheduled for Department of Labor and Environmental Protection Agency nominees.
The Daily Mail, meanwhile, has a report quoting “two senior Senate aids” (anonymous) as declaring Alexander was making threats himself behind the scenes during the deal-cutting talks. Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, threatened Reid with an even bigger nuke than Reid famously threatened: a promise to retaliate by opposing every so-called ‘unanimous consent’ resolution that comes to the Senate floor.
‘Senator Alexander told Senator Reid that if he did what he thought he was going to do, the wrath of God was coming, and he was going to deliver it personally.’
Both aides confirmed that the Republicans’ leader in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, approved of the plan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Alexander’s office did not respond to a request for an official comment.
….Sen. Alexander had already offered a series of different threats on the Senate floor on June 18, telling Democrats that if they changed the debate rules, he would prepare 10 pieces of legislation and pass them quickly the next time Republicans were in the majority.
New York Times political prognosticator Nate Silver, who correctly predicted the outcome of every state’s electoral votes in the 2012 presidential election, said Monday that Republicans were poised to hold either 50 or 51 Senate seats after the 2014 midterm election.
Alexander’s June 18 threats included the repeal of Obamacare, a voucher program for public education, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, completing the Keystone XL pipeline, a national ‘right to work’ law and finishing the construction of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
That project is in Reid’s home state of Nevada, and he’s blocked it since 2010.
‘I think Lamar Alexander is a serous player,’ the second staffer said. ‘He’s got game, and Harry Reid blinked.’
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Friday said top Volkswagen leaders aren’t pushing United Auto Workers’ efforts in Chattanooga and he contended there’s no link between plant expansion and setting up a factory works council.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP: A UAW official said VW employees won’t be “intimidated by outside forces,” and that the German automaker has “an outstanding track record” of working with organized labor globally.
The two sides weighed into the VW issue as a Washington, D.C., group Friday officially launched a summerlong “education campaign” about the UAW and its efforts to organize the VW plant.
Corker, a Tennessee Republican who helped negotiate the incentives package to bring Volkswagen to Chattanooga, said he has talked to VW leaders numerous times and “there’s not a push by the executive leadership or the board toward the UAW.”
“I know for a fact that at the highest levels of VW, they’re aware that if the UAW became involved in the plant, it would be a negative for the future economic growth of our state,” he said.
However, Gary Casteel, a UAW regional director in Lebanon, Tenn., said the auto companies and their employees represented by the union are prospering.
The Spring Hill, Tenn., plant run by General Motors has been resurrected and now has 2,000 workers, he said. Ford Motor Co. employees at a plant in his region last year received $8,000 profit-sharing bonuses and could receive $10,000 each this year, Casteel said.
Chrysler, meanwhile, is recording the fastest-growing market share among automakers, he said.
“We’re doing fine,” Casteel said.
Still, Corker said the possibility that the UAW could represent workers at the VW plant has affected recruitment of other businesses to Tennessee.
“It has already created some obstacles to us,” he said. “I think the leadership at the [Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce] believes that if the UAW established a stronghold in our area, it would be a negative,” he said.
The former Chattanooga mayor termed “totally and absolutely false” a claim last week by a top German VW works council official that it would block the possibility of Chattanooga landing new production until the issue of a works council is clear at the plant.
Headline on Lamar Alexander Press release today: Alexander Votes to Secure Border, End de Facto Amnesty Says immigration reform now goes to U.S. House of Representatives to “improve the legislation and finish the job”
Headline on Marsha Blackburn Press Release today: Senate Amnesty Bill D.O.A. In House Of Representatives
Text of the releases is below, along with statements from Sen. Bob Corker and Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Diane Black on the Senate’s passage of the immigration bill.
News release from Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON – In remarks on the Senate floor today, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., commented on an amendment he co-authored with Senator John Hoeven, D-N.D., to bolster security on the nation’s southern border as part of the immigration bill now being considered by the Senate.
“Some people have described this [amendment] as a border surge…[W]e are investing resources and securing our border [in ways] that have never been [done] before: doubling the border patrol, $3.2 billion worth of the technology that we took from the chief of the border patrol, the technology that he needs to have 100 percent awareness and to secure our border, dealing with the [entry]/exit program, dealing with e-verify so that all of these things are in place,” Corker said on the Senate floor.
“I do think the American people have asked us if we pass an immigration bill off the Senate floor to do everything that we can to ensure that we have secured the border. That’s what people in Tennessee have asked for…I think that’s what this amendment does,” Corker added. “I want to thank all involved in crafting an amendment that I think tries to deal with the sensibilities on both sides and at the same time secure our border in such a way that we can put this issue mostly behind us and we can have an immigration system in our country that meets the needs of a growing economy – the biggest economy in the world – that focuses on making our country stronger, not weaker, and hopefully will put this debate behind us.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Twenty-one leaders of Tennessee’s colleges and universities have sent a letter to the state’s two U.S. senators urging their support for immigration reform that will allow more graduates to remain in the country after they finish their education.
The letter dated Wednesday asks Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to back a bi-partisan plan that would ensure foreign-born students educated in U.S. universities will have a clear path to work in this country after graduation.
The educators say current immigration policy threatens “America’s pre-eminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity” because of its inability to retain skilled foreign-born graduates.
Some members of Congress want a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally, an idea that’s been met with deep skepticism by some lawmakers.
— Note: A list of those signing is below.
Tennessee tea party groups, several state lawmakers and numerous other conservative activists urged U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker in an open letter to oppose a Senate plan to create a 13-year road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reports The Tennessean. Critics say the bill amounts to “amnesty legislation” that “legalizes millions of illegal immigrants.”
“It contains dangerous loopholes that will undermine our national security,” the tea party activists write. “It rewards illegal behavior, punishes those who have followed our rules and undermines our law enforcement.”
The letter, which was signed by 46 activists and lawmakers, asks Tennessee’s Republican senators to speak against the bill, oppose any vote to end debate and “stand up for the rule of law.” The message was the same in a 30-second spot released by NumbersUSA that is airing nine times a day on two Tennessee radio stations, including WLAC in Nashville.
Laura Herzog, a Corker spokeswoman, said he is reviewing the bill.
“Senator Corker is optimistic that we have an opportunity to do something that is productive for our country,” she said, “but the details matter, and we expect there will be a lengthy debate with many amendments when the bill comes to the floor of the Senate.”
Alexander, in a statement, didn’t explicitly support the Senate bill, but he said the current situation is “completely unacceptable.”
“Our borders are not secure,” he said. “Millions illegally here have de facto amnesty. At the same time we are excluding scientists and workers who could help grow our economy. It is the constitutional responsibility of the president and Congress to write the rules for a legal immigration system and then to enforce it. I will be voting to secure our borders, end de facto amnesty, and to establish an immigration system that respects the rule of law.”
The Tennessee State Chamber of Commerce and Industry also took issue with the letter, saying the time is right for comprehensive immigration reform — though it stopped short of an outright endorsement of the Senate plan.
“We would have a hard time understanding why anyone would oppose a bill that both strengthens our borders and strengthens our economy as well,” said Bradley Jackson, vice president for governmental affairs at the chamber. “There has to be a federal solution to this problem.”
A Senate committee voted last week to approve S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” a measure developed and backed by a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Tennessee Valley Authority might be better off severed from Uncle Sam, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tells the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. Corker said he isn’t pushing to sell TVA to try to cut the federal debt, as President Obama proposed last month in his fiscal 2014 budget plan. With nearly $25 billion in debt, TVA probably wouldn’t fetch enough from buyers to pay what it owes, Corker said.
But new approaches for TVA, including converting the agency to a nonprofit corporation or transferring ownership to TVA distributors and customers, might help improve the utility, Corker said.
“I’ve not been comfortable with the federal government involvement with TVA and thinking that that is going to lead TVA to a great place,” Corker told the Times Free Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I worry that over time the fact that TVA is controlled by the federal government but in a laissez-fair manner could leave it less and less as an identity to drive economic growth in our state.”
Corker is splitting with most other Tennesseans in the Congress who have balked at a proposal in the Obama budget plan to conduct a strategic study on cutting TVA loose from the federal treasury.
“Reducing or eliminating the federal government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require federal participation, can help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path,” the White House says in its budget plan.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said that spinning off the nation’s largest public utility could mean higher electricity prices for the seven states that the authority serves. Just the talk about selling TVA has hurt its bond values and raised TVA’s effective borrowing costs, Alexander said.
Even U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican who denounced Obama a “socialist” in January, said the president’s suggestion to privatize TVA is “unsupportable and inexplicable.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority no longer receives any federal funds and is an independent federal corporation that relies entirely upon electric ratepayers to fund its $11 billion-a-year budget. TVA does enjoy the implied backing of the federal government through its federal ownership, which helps the agency maintain a top bond rating and borrow money at a lower rate than do private utilities.
Frank Cagle devotes his weekly column to Tom Ingram, depicted as “the Ghostbuster for millionaire Republicans.” He is being paid by Bill Haslam as a consultant. He is being paid by Pilot Flying J as a consultant. Should Alexander have a tough primary race, Ingram will no doubt be called on again. Last year he was a highly-paid campaign consultant for Corker, who had no credible opposition.
But this time the “fixer” has some liabilities of his own. He has been discovered to be lobbying for a coal company to get access to the state-owned Catoosa Wildlife Management Area while being a consultant to the governor. And he was not registered as a lobbyist with the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. (Hat tip to the News Sentinel and WTVF-TV Nashville.)
Ingram’s overlapping roles over the years as the go-to campaign consultant, Senate staffer, lobbying and public relations group owner, and personal adviser to the Haslams are a tangled web and no one but Ingram knows where all the strands intersect.
To get his clients out of the current mess, Ingram will have to earn his money.
ngram’s relationship with the governor and his seeming indifference to the rules requiring him to report his lobbying activity has a whiff of arrogance his clients don’t need at the present time.