Tag Archives: jim cooper

Bodies of solders slain in Mexican War returned to U.S.

The remains of 11 American soldiers killed in the Mexican-American War, likely including at least some Tennesseans, are finally returning today to American soil, according to news releases from U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, and Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg.

From DesJarlais:
Washington, D.C. – Last year, Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04), introduced a resolution urging the Government of Mexico and the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs to expedite the release of identified remains of 11 American Soldiers who fought in the battle of Monterey in 1846.

170 years ago, Brigadier General Zachary Taylor led a 6,000 man military force composed largely of Tennessee Volunteers and Texas Rangers to capture the town of Monterrey. During this battle the United States suffered 120 casualties, 368 were wounded and 43 were reported missing.

According to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology, the uncovered remains of the 11 U.S. soldiers were found at a construction site near the Texan border. The remains were identified as American soldiers who died in combat after an examination of the buttons sewn into their uniforms as well as two U.S. half-dollar coins excavated in the area. Continue reading

Cooper balks at naming courthouse for Thompson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – All but one of Tennessee’s congressional delegation members want the new federal courthouse in Nashville to be named after the late actor-politician Fred Thompson, but the lone holdout says there’s no need to rush.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat who lost to Thompson in the 1994 Senate race, is the only one of the 11 delegation members not to sign on to legislation to dedicate the building to the Lawrenceburg native who died last year at age 73.

“I am not against Fred Thompson,” Cooper said in an email. “He beat me fair and square decades ago. I am not against it being named for a Republican.

“But is rushing through a bill at the last minute in Congress, without any public input or discussion, the best we can do?”

Cooper said it should be up people in Middle Tennessee to decide the name of the courthouse that’s being built after years of delays. And if they end up choosing Thompson, Cooper said he’d have “no problem” with that.

Thompson was a Tennessee-trained lawyer, prosecutor, hard-driving Senate counsel during the Watergate hearings, movie and TV actor and even a fleeting presidential hopeful in 2008. He commanded audiences with a booming voice, folksy charisma and a 6-foot-6 frame.

Thompson starred the “Law & Order” TV series and appeared in at least 20 motion pictures including “In the Line of Fire,” ”The Hunt for Red October,” ”Die Hard II” and “Cape Fear,” while also fostering a lobbying career in Washington. Upon his return home in early 1990s to run for the Senate, Thompson leased what would become his signature red truck to drive around the state to cast himself as a man of the people.

Cooper at the time derided the truck as a cynical prop to deflect attention from Thompson’s inside-the-Beltway status, arguing that his Republican opponent was in fact a “Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special-interest lobbyist.”

Thompson nevertheless ended up winning more than 60 percent of the vote.

Cohen denounces pro-gun ‘nuts’ as windup to House sit-in

As House Democrats suspended their sit-in over gun violence Thursday, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen called the 25-hour protest “a great day for America” and denounced “crazy, looney tweets” from pro-gun “nuts,” reports Michael Collins.

“What a great opportunity for Democrats to come together and show unity on an issue of such importance as saving lives,” the Memphis Democrat said in a fiery speech from the House floor, about 30 minutes before the sit-in ended. Democrats have vowed to restart it when the House returns from its July 4 recess.

Cohen said the gun-control measures Democrats are seeking — to expand background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns — are “low-hanging fruit,” and Congress should be working to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Yet, he said, a lot of gun owners have taken to social media to argue they need assault weapons “to defend themselves from their country.”

“They’re nuts,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat who also participated in the sit-in, said House members should be allowed to vote on issues of concern to the public.

“Making sure that terrorists can’t easily get their hands on guns is a no-brainer, and we should vote on it,” Cooper said. “We should not shirk our responsibilities to the country on any of the important issues of the day.”

…Cooper said that while the “no-fly” list is not perfect, “it has been good enough to keep airplanes from exploding over the U.S. since 9/11.”

“I am exploring ways to get a better list, and I am open to all good ideas,” he said. “But the legitimate problems with today’s no-fly list are solvable, such as by adding due process protections. The key point is that Congress should be working on these issues, not ducking them. We should be solving the problem of identifying terrorists, not giving up.”

TN Democrats ready for presidential primary to end

In Tennessee, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Democratic primary in March, her supporters aren’t exactly screaming for Bernie Sanders Sanders to get out of the race, reports Michael Collins. But they’re ready to move on to the general election.

“I think it would be best if we concentrated on Donald Trump,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis Democrat and Clinton backer. “I understand where Sen. Sanders is wanting to drive his agenda further and further. He has shown there is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with the system. But he has made his points.”

Regardless, Cohen said, “He wants to campaign to the end, and it’s going to cost Democrats more money — and it’s going to be more money spent on primaries that should be spent on (defeating) Donald Trump.”

Memphis political consultant Matt Kuhn, who headed Sanders’ campaign in Tennessee, said he’s heard other Volunteer State Democrats say Sanders should drop out and let Clinton concentrate on Trump.

But Clinton already has begun turning her attention to Trump, Kuhn said, citing a recent Clinton campaign ad released that uses footage of Trump’s fellow Republicans trash-talking the GOP nominee. He said it’s one of the best anti-Trump ads he’s seen.

Kuhn doesn’t buy the notion that Sanders’ barrage of attacks against Clinton — at one point, Sanders said she wasn’t qualified to be president — will damage her in the general election. Sure, Trump’s campaign probably will use some of Sanders’ sound bites in its own campaign ads in the fall, he said.

“(But) there’s no way the messaging the Bernie campaign is using will come back and haunt Hillary,” Kuhn said. “It can only help her, I think, because it excites a part of the Democratic Party that wants to get out there and support the liberal message.”

Besides, he said, the squabbling among the two Democrats “pales in comparison to what’s already out there on the Republican side.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat and Clinton supporter, puts it another way.

“We may have a rivalry in the Democratic Party,” he said. “But they have a civil war in the Republican Party.”

What matters in the end, Cooper said, is that Democrats unite behind their nominee. And he’s convinced they will.

TN congressmen on Boehner resignation

News release statements from members of the Tennessee congressional delegation:

From Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued a statement on Speaker John Boehner’s impending retirement.

“Speaker Boehner is a very honorable man who always tries to do the right thing. He understands that compromise is in our job description,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, he had a nearly impossible job leading an increasingly unreasonable and right-wing party that refuses to work with Democrats for the good of the nation.”

From Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburgh
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) released the following statement after the announcement of Speaker John Boehner’s resignation:

“I am certainly thankful for Speaker Boehner’s career of public service in the House of Representatives. However, Tennessee’s Fourth District has long held the belief that Republican leadership needed a new direction. That is why in January I voted against John Boehner for Speaker of the House. Now we must come together as a conference to ensure we elect a consistent, conservative leader.”

From Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga
WASHINGTON− Congressman Chuck Fleischmann released the following statement following Speaker John Boehner’s retirement announcement.

“Speaker John Boehner has helped build the largest Republican majority in the House since 1928 and has been a great public servant throughout his tenure. He has represented the people of Ohio and our conference with dignity, dedication and honor. As we move forward I am confident we will fill his void and continue to fight to reduce the size of government and make it more accountable, transparent and efficient.”

From Sen. Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following statement on the retirement of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

“John Boehner has always tried to do what is best for the country. He has been a strong Speaker in a tough environment. Boehner’s successor will have exactly the same challenges and responsibilities that he has had: to demonstrate that Republicans can both adhere to our conservative principles and govern during serious times.”

From Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement on Speaker Boehner’s resignation:

“I thank the Speaker for his service to our great nation – and I respect his decision. His resignation as Speaker will allow the House Republican Conference to concentrate on the many issues that face our country.”

Rep. John Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, via News Sentinel

“One of the most important lessons I have learned in political life is that things always look easier from a distance,” Duncan said. “Speaker Boehner has a very difficult job. Whoever comes in next will probably have a short honeymoon period, but they will then face the same challenges Speaker Boehner encountered as long as there is a very liberal White House to contend with.”

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, via Commercial Appeal

“While he and I are on different sides of the aisle and different sides of many issues, I have always respected his dedication to public service,” Cohen said. “I know he truly cares about our nation and, regrettably, his tenure as Speaker of the House has been during one of the most divisive periods in Congress. Even so, he was able to bring the House together on several occasions. I wish him well.”

Cooper pushes permanent ban on earmarks

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, says many congressmen long for the return of earmarked federal spending, according to Michael Collins, but the Nashville Democrats wants to get rid of them permanently.

“You hear it in the hallways and on the floor all the time: ‘Oh, if we only had earmarks,’” Cooper said. “People spend most of their days raising money for their own campaigns, and then they come to the floor and think, ‘Here’s some more money. Why can’t we use it to help me in my district get elected?’”

…Just as Congress left Washington for its August break, Cooper and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, filed a bill that, if approved, would permanently bar the House from considering any legislation containing earmarks. Any earmarks found in legislation would have to be stripped before the bill could proceed.

Cooper, who has earned a reputation in Congress as a deficit hawk, insists he’s not against federal spending. He is against spending taxpayer money on projects that have few, if any, merits.

“We can have federal spending,” he said, “but do it on the merits.”

Cooper has been fighting against earmarks for years, so he knows what he’s up against. Even with the temporary bans in place, some crafty lawmakers have still managed to grab taxpayer money for their pet projects.

Given that reality, Cooper is matter-of-fact about his bill’s chances of passing. “Zero to none,” he said.

On the latest Insure TN revival news conference

A congressman, a mayor, an unemployed welder and a homeless shelter worker were among 11 people at a hospital podium Monday with the same message: it’s time for state legislators to approve Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee alternative Medicaid expansion plan.

Further from a Richard Locker report on the latest news conference effort to revive Insure Tennessee:

“First we waited for the first Supreme Court case to make sure that the Affordable Care Act was going to continue to be law. Then we waited for implementation in other states. Then we waited for the 2012 and 2014 elections to see if it would get repealed, and there have been over 50 attempts to repeal it,” said state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville.

“Then we waited to see how other states did and we’ve seen their revenues go up, their health coverage increase and their costs go down. Then we waited for our governor to work with the federal government to design a plan that will work for Tennessee, that was a little more conservative and had different elements from standard Medicaid expansion, which was done. And then we waited for yet another Supreme Court decision. Right now, because of legislative inaction, a population basically the size of Knoxville is needlessly uninsured,” Yarbro said.

Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a heart and lung surgeon and retired career military officer who supports the governor’s plan, cited a list of powerful groups supporting the plan, along with ordinary citizens.

“The reason we all support it is because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do because Insure Tennessee will provide health care and health insurance for over 300,000 Tennesseans. It’s the right thing to do because 30,000 of our Tennessee veterans who have served us and protected us as a country are not eligible for Veterans Administration health care and they are looking to us.

“It’s the right thing to do because we are turning down $1.2 billion per year — over $6 billion in five years and that’s our tax money that’s been sent to Washington that we need to get back to take care of Tennesseans That $6 billion over the next five years that will either save or create 15,000 new jobs,” Briggs said.

The news conference at Nashville’s St. Thomas Midtown Hospital attracted nearly 100 advocates for the governor’s plan.

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the effort is nonpartisan because it includes a Republican governor and Republicans like Briggs and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, along with Democrats.

…Others who spoke included U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn; Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Tennessee Justice Center Executive Director Michele Johnson; Tennessee Business Roundtable Executive Director Charlie Howorth; Diane Donahue, who earns $11,000 as an uninsured homeless shelter worker in Wilson County, and David Crockett of Greene County, a former welder who lost his job after developing multiple sclerosis and is also uninsured.

Some seek removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from TN capitol

Two prominent Tennessee Democrats and the state Republican Party chairman say a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, should be removed from its perch inside the state capitol building, reports The Tennessean.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest has no place in the Tennessee statehouse.

“Symbols of hate should not be promoted by government. South Carolina should remove the Confederate battle flag from its Capitol, and Tennessee should remove the bust of Forrest inside our Capitol,” Cooper said in a statement to The Tennessean.

Fitzhugh said he believes the bust should be displayed in a museum.

“In general, our Capitol should be representative of the people of Tennessee. Right now if you’re a young girl, like my granddaughter, Marley Mac, for instance, and you visit the Capitol, there are no busts in the building that look like you,” Fitzhugh said.

“For African-Americans, there’s only one — a fairly recent addition. So I think, generally speaking, we need to revisit what we have displayed in the Capitol so that it better represents a Tennessee for all of us.”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes believes the bust should be removed from the Capitol as well.

“If I were a legislator, I would vote to move it,” said Haynes, who recently stepped down from his position in the Tennessee House of Representatives to take over the state Republican Party.

Obama TN judge nominees win Senate committee approval

Two Tennessee lawyers nominated by President Obama to U.S. District Court seat got favorable reviews Wednesday in a U.S. Senate committee hearing, where they had the support of Tennessee Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

Nashville attorney Waverly Crenshaw Jr. is nominated for a Middle Tennessee judgeship left open by the retirement of William Joseph Haynes Jr. Travis McDonough, chief of staff for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, would fill an East Tennessee seat vacated by Judge Curtis Collier.

From The Tennessean:

Crenshaw, who specialized in labor and employment law while in private practice, has been endorsed by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, and Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Tennessee Republicans.

His support from both sides of the aisle is significant. The process of filling judicial vacancies elsewhere in the country has bogged down because home-state Republican senators and the White House have clashed over individual nominees.

“We worked very closely with them throughout the process,” Corker said of his discussions with the White House on Crenshaw. “I’m very appreciative of the caliber of people who have been nominated and I’m sure will be confirmed.”

Crenshaw originally applied for the judgeship through Cooper back in February 2014, according to his written statement to the Senate.

…”These are men of good character and good temperament,” Alexander said.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who watched Wednesday’s hearings, said he expects the Judiciary Committee will approve both Tennessee nominees, but it’s unclear when the full Senate would act.

“The nominees are both experienced courtroom advocates who answered the questions easily and well,” Tobias said. “I saw no red flags.”

Note: Corker’s news release on the nominees (and a video of his statement supporting them) is HERE.

TN politicians cool toward removing Jackson’s picture from $20 bill

The notion of replacing Andrew Jackson’s picture on the $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman has gained the apparent support of Hillary Clinton, prompting The Guardian to ask politicians in the former president’s home state what they thought of the idea. An excerpt from the resulting report:

Perhaps the strongest defense of the seventh president came from Jim Cooper, a longtime Democratic congressman from the Volunteer State. He told the Guardian in a statement: “I agree that men should no longer monopolize the images on US paper money. All the men pictured, with the possible exception of Washington, were deeply flawed.”

However, Cooper added: “But to drop Jackson, one of the most popular presidents in history and the founder of the Democratic party, would be a mistake. As a Tennessean, I would drop Grant from the $50, not Jackson from the $20.”

…Steve Cohen, the only other Democratic congressman from Tennessee, was somewhat more open to change. He thought both Tubman and Jackson were great Americans and should be recognized. Cohen said he has “never been one to replace one person’s recognition and honor with another”.

Cohen suggested Tubman “could be on the $20 bill with Andrew Jackson on another bill”.

The four-term congressman noted that he would like to see more American women and minorities recognized in general. “I’ve suggested we have 150 statutes [in Statuary Hall], not 100, to show changes in society,” he said. The Tennessee Democrat also opined that Clinton’s anti-Jackson move wouldn’t make much of a political difference in his home state, which Bill Clinton carried in 1992 and 1996 but which has gone solidly Republican since then.

“If Hillary Clinton could bring Andrew Jackson back to life and have him give a speech at the inauguration, I don’t think it would be enough for her to carry Tennessee,” he said.

The Tennessee Democrat most guarded about the issue was Mary Mancini, the state party chair. When the Guardian reached her by telephone on Monday, she said “that’s a good question” and immediately put the phone on hold for several minutes. When she returned to the call, she simply said: “It’s a good conversation that we should have about equality, about who is presented on our money and how we can be more representative of the population as a whole.”

Mancini declined to express further opinions about the currency question while noting that “Andrew Jackson was not a perfect person” and pointing out that “just because he is the founder of the Democratic party doesn’t mean we back everything that he did”. Instead, she simply thought it was “a conversation that needs to be had”.

…Among Republicans, a spokesman for presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who hails from the same region of South Carolina where Jackson was born, said the three-term senator “doesn’t think there should be any changes to the $20 bill”. Further, Tennessee senator Bob Corker simply shrugged and seemed indifferent when asked. “I don’t have a lot to say,” he told the Guardian. “Andrew Jackson certainly has a major place in Tennessee history, but I don’t make determinations as to who is on dollar bills.”