Tag Archives: jim cooper

Jim Cooper: GOP ‘crazy stuff’ will save Democrats

Excerpt from a Tennessean story on U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s unhappiness with defeat of Gov. Bill Haslam’s leadership abilities and Republican legislators’ killing his Insure Tennessee proposal — the sort of thing the congressman thinks might mean hope for the state Democrats down the road.

(H)e thinks the GOP running to the right will save the Democrats — “Not just to the right, but crazy stuff, embarrassing stuff,” he added. He calls it overreaching by Republicans: the conservative wing of the party highjacks the moderate agenda, irking Republicans who are closer to the political middle than the fringe.

“It’s like we used to hear a lot 20, 30 years ago, what (President Ronald) Reagan used to say: ‘Well, I used to be a Democrat but the party left me.’ Now a lot of people are saying, ‘I used to be a Republican but the party left me,'” Cooper said.

“I don’t want to disclose any confidences, but some of the most important Republicans in the state are feeling that way right now, and that’s a significant sea change. It’ll take a while for it to be felt, but it’s having a big difference.”

Republicans are pretty confident with their current footing in Tennessee politics, so Cooper might have to wait a while to see that difference come to fruition.

But he could still be in office if (or when, he hopes) that happens. Cooper’s running for re-election in 2016, and said he’ll continue to serve as long the voters will have him.

Cooper votes for Colin Powell as House speaker and gets a vote himself

Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper voted for retired four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell instead of joining his fellow Democrats to vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who held the position of Speaker prior to the GOP takeover of the House in 2010.

From TNReport:

“Colin Powell gets my vote again this year. He’s willing to work with both parties, he’s a military expert, and he’s a master diplomat. Most importantly, he isn’t scared of reform. There’s nothing that needs it like Congress,” Cooper said in a prepared statement.got one vote for House speaker Tuesday — that of freshman U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla.

The U.S. Constitution places no limit on who may serve as Speaker of the House, and Cooper previously cast his vote for Powell to take the U.S. House’s top post in 2013. Although there is no prohibition on non-members serving as Speaker, it has never happened before.

And Cooper himself got a vote. From the Tennessean::

On Tuesday, her first day as a member of Congress, the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham voted against Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California as House speaker. In doing so, she made good on a campaign pledge to seek a new, more bipartisan direction on Capitol Hill by choosing someone she views as more of a bridge-builder.

… Graham was the only House lawmaker who voted for Cooper, who wasn’t seeking the speaker’s post anyway.

“He meets my criteria as someone who can be bipartisan,” Graham said as she walked to the House floor Tuesday to be sworn in.

“A record number of House members cast protest votes today against existing leadership,” Cooper said. “I was flattered Gwen cast her vote for me because she is an outstanding new member who wants Congress to improve by working together. She is a Blue Dog from the South, just like me.”

Corker ready to get more harsh with Russia; Cooper and Duncan, not so much

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who is in line to lead the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Republicans take control of the chamber in January, wants America more involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, according to TNReport. On the other hand, the post also notes that two Tennessee congressmen — John J. “Jimmy” Duncan and Jim Cooper — were among a handful of U.S. House members to vote against a U.S. House resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

His (Corker’s) approach of late has been to favor American military interventions and involvement in overseas conflicts. With respect to the regional disharmony in Eastern Europe, he supports the United States sending “lethal aid” to the Ukrainian military in their battle against forces loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And with the Senate’s unanimous passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, the nation is one step closer to realizing Corker’s vision.

While the House has yet to vote on the Senate’s legislation — it was referred to committee Dec. 2 — last week a House resolution was passed “strongly condemning” the forcible annexation of the Crimean region by Russia, and calling for further sanctions on Russia and aid to Ukraine. Only 10 members of Congress voted against the resolution — five members of each party. Of Tennessee’s congressional delegation only Republican Rep. John Duncan, TN-02, and Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, TN-05, voted against the measure.

The legislation, passed by the Senate on a voice vote Thursday, authorizes the offer of “lethal aid” to Ukraine, and includes sanctions on Roboronexport, a Russian state agency promoting defense and arms trade, and Gazprom, a major Russian state-controlled natural gas company.

The approved version of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, sponsored by Corker and outgoing Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was softened from its original form, which included further sanctions on Russia’s energy industry and designations for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova as”major non-NATO allies.”

…However, while Corker maintains the need for U.S. action to address Putin’s geopolitical overreach, he acknowledged the aid package won’t necessarily turn the tide for Ukraine.

“The lethal support to me is something that certainly is not going to mean that they would ever be able to stand up to Russia. It’s not going to happen. It raises the price, it shows a little bit of a deeper commitment,” Corker said while speaking about the Iranian nuclear program at a Foreign Policy Initiative conference sponsored by Raytheon, an American defense contractor and industrial corporation. The Foreign Policy Initiative is a non-profit think tank supporting U.S. global involvement, a strong military and the spread of democracy.

Corker added the best time for action would have been while the Russian president was preparing to invade Ukraine. But now, “we waited too long, the genie’s out of the bottle,” Corker said. “It’s very difficult to see how we don’t end up in a frozen conflict there.”

TN U.S. House delegation splits — 4 yes, 5 no — on $1.1 trillion budget bill

Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation split in voting for the $1.1 trillion budget bill approved by a 219-206 margin Thursday.

Yes votes came from Republican Reps. Diane Black, Stephen Fincher, Chuck Fleischmann and Phil Roe.

No votes were Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais and John Duncan along with Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper.

(Note: The New York Times state-by-state graph on the vote is HERE.)

Some press release statements from Tennessee House delegation members are below:
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Cohen and Cooper on Obama’s visit to Nashville

The Commercial Appeal has a roundup of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen’s tweets, pictures and videos on his “pretty cool” ride to Nashville aboard Air Force One with President Obama Tuesday. Nashville’s U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper was aboard, too.

So, while Tennessee Republicans were denouncing Obama during his visit for a speech on immigration (previous post HERE), the state’s two congressional Democrats were applauding.

Here’s Cohen’s news release statement:
“I was proud to accept President Obama’s invitation to join him as he travelled to Tennessee on Air Force One today. As always, the President was thoughtful, knowledgeable, brilliant, and engaging as he discussed his commonsense executive order to address some of the flaws of our nation’s immigration system and called on Congress to fix these problems once and for all. I support the President’s actions and will continue working in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Here’s one of his tweets:
Great ride on Air Force One to #Nashville and ride to event with#POTUS .Discussed #Memphis immigration and Nashville. Proud to be with Prez!

Here’s Cooper’s news release statement:
“The U.S. Senate – including Senators Corker and Alexander – voted overwhelmingly to do what the President outlined today (on immigration). House Republicans have refused to consider the Senate bill, but they have three more days to allow an up or down vote where it would pass with a large majority. Our community – including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Lipscomb University, the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and local charitable family foundations – supports the goal of integrating immigrants into the wider community. We are a model for the country.”

Cooper says victims of ‘voter suppression’ should retaliate by voting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper on Wednesday urged Tennesseans to vote this election cycle following a recent report that shows states that toughened their voter identification laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not.

The press conference organized by Cooper in Nashville was held on the first day of early voting. The general election is Nov. 4.

The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative agency, said that as of June, 33 states have enacted laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

Republicans who have pushed for the legislation say the requirement will reduce fraud, but Democrats insist the laws are a GOP effort to reduce Democratic turnout on Election Day.

The report compared election turnout in Kansas and Tennessee — which tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections — to voting in four states that didn’t change their identification requirements.

Specifically in Tennessee, it estimated reductions in voter turnout were from 2 percent to 3 percent steeper than they were in the other states examined. The four other states, which did not make their voter ID laws stricter, were Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine.
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On Cooper vs. Ries in 5th Congressional District

Bob Ries, who once campaigned for Robert F. Kennedy and says he’s still “a philosophical Democrat,” is the Republican nominee against Jim Cooper, the Democratic congressman holding the 5th Congressional District seat. In a review of the race, The Tennessean reports that — perhaps not surprisingly — President Obama is a topic.

After running unsuccessfully in the Fifth Congressional District Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012 — when he lost by a mere 40 votes — Ries won this year’s four-man GOP race by 8 percentage points. But he has a lot of work to do this fall to defeat Cooper, who’s seeking a seventh two-year term representing the predominantly Democratic district that covers all of Davidson and Dickson counties and part of Cheatham County.

“He’s sucking up a seat, and that’s not fair,” said Ries, 74, who promised not to serve more than six years. “People have an alternative.”

But Cooper, 60, has a national profile, thanks to his efforts to reform Congress’s work ethic and the federal government’s budget practices. His “No Budget, No Pay” bill, which became law on a temporary basis last year, prohibits members of Congress from getting paid if they fail to pass a budget on time.

The self-described “nerd” said an upcoming article in The New Yorker would mention some of his proposals.

“Nobody’s more critical of the failures of Congress than I am,” Cooper said in an interview Thursday at Fido as two young campaign aides looked on. “Most (congressional) committees don’t really work anymore. This Congress has been so bad, we even had to work to keep Congress from shutting itself down. I’ve never been party to those destructive efforts.”

…Cooper also has a personal touch that has translated well in Middle Tennessee, where he freely gives out his cell phone number during his many public appearances.

“I welcome people’s suggestions,” he said, adding that he’s received just one “semi-obscene” call since he started passing out the number.

But Ries, a businessman and Army veteran who sometimes plays up his passing resemblance to the late football broadcaster Howard Cosell (even wearing a nearly flourescent yellow sport coat), said Cooper should be held accountable for voting for Obamacare, the controversial 2010 health care reform law. He said the law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, violates the U.S. Constitution in several ways and shows that President Barack Obama doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart.

He called Obama “an absolute piece of cowardly puke.”

Corker falls from 17th to 20th in listing of richest members of Congress

In its annual list of the nation’s richest members of Congress, Roll Call reports that Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker gained net worth but fell in the overall ranking.

The Chattanooga TFP has a rundown on the list from a Tennessee perspective HERE. An excerpt:

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker may not agree with Obamanomics, but under President Obama last year the Chattanooga Republican enjoyed a $1.3 million gain in his minimum net worth…to between $19 million and $89.7 million. (Roll Call uses the minimum figure in its rankings.)

Corker ranked No. 23 last year. Despite the gain in his minimum net worth, Corker still placed lower in 2013 than he did in the previous year when Roll Call ranked him as the 17th-richest member of Congress.

The Chattanooga millionaire is not the richest member in Congress from Tennessee, however. U.S. Rep. Diane Black, a Nashville Republican, reported a net worth last year of at least $21.2 million, placing her among the 20 wealthiest members of the U.S. House or U.S. Senate.

Black showed her minimum worth dropped by $3.7 million in 2013, reducing her wealth rating by Roll Call from No. 14 in 2012 to No. 20 last year.

…U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat,…who owns millions of dollars worth of land in Tennessee and Kentucky along with beachfront property in Gulfport, Miss., reported a $3 million rise in his minimum worth last year and ranked 36th on the list of wealthiest members in Congress. Cooper is a former investment banker who owns stock in Microsoft, IBM, Comcast and Qualcomm.

On the ‘bizarro’ voting within TN congressional delegation on aid to Syrian rebels

Michael Cass found the partisan alignment in last week’s congressional voting on arming Syrian rebels “a fascinating — and not unwelcome — slice of Bizarro Washington.”

Republicans Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black supported Democratic President Barack Obama’s plan. Democrat Jim Cooper opposed it. And House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, usually at each other’s hyperpartisan throats, broke bread to back the president in a 273-to-156 vote.

But, as in the best punk rock songs, more traditional melodies still managed to poke through all the dissonance.

…Cooper, a Nashville Democrat and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he didn’t think Obama’s plan could work. He called the Syrian opposition “a number of disorganized, unreliable and shifting groups that face three hostile armies at once within Syria itself: Assad’s army, ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front.

…Blackburn, meanwhile, supported the amendment “as a first step in our efforts to fight back against Islamic terrorists.” But that was about the only good thing the Brentwood Republican, one of Obama’s noisiest critics, had to say about the president’s strategy.

“When it comes to being honest with the American people about ISIL and what is going to be required to win this fight, President Obama is living in fantasyland,” she said. “To date, the President has failed to provide us with a clear definition of what a win or success in this fight would look like.”

…Tough talk from Tennessee Republicans continued after the Senate took its own 78-22 vote to aid the Syrian rebels. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, offered a pretty negative yes.

“Thus far, the administration has been sophomoric, vague and unprepared to define an approach to ISIS that meets any test of seriousness,” he said. “I am willing to give the administration three months to try to develop a training program in hopes it can be a small seed for a building block to create the coalition they have cited. By December 11, we will know if the administration has developed a more realistic effort.”

…Then again, Tennessee’s only other congressional Democrat, Steve Cohen of Memphis, said the Islamic State could “pose a threat to freedom, democracy, tolerance, diversity and the United States of America.” So he supported Obama.

Jim Cooper’s reelection run: ‘Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room’

Unabashedly moderate Democrat Jim Cooper doesn’t like much of what is going on in Washington these days, reports the Tennessean, but he’s seeking another term and likely to get it despite Republican talk to the contrary.

“Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room, or the only one acting like an adult,” Cooper said.
…This year, Cooper, having turned 60 in June, is again offering a moderate record and professorial demeanor to voters of the 5th Congressional District, seeking his seventh consecutive term and 13th overall. Cooper has served from January 1983 to January 1995 and from January 2003 to the present.

He left temporarily after losing the 1994 U.S. Senate race to Republican Fred Thompson.

Four Republicans — Chris Carter of Franklin, Ronnie Holden of Madison, Bob Ries of Nashville and John “Big John” Smith of Nashville — are running in the Aug. 7 primary for the right to oppose him in November. There is also one independent, Paul Deakin of Nashville.

Tennessee Republicans suspect Obama’s falling approval ratings — and a still-tepid economic recovery — mean trouble for Cooper.

“Overall voters are dissatisfied with a Democratic-led Washington, D.C.,” said Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state Republican Party.

In general elections for the House, however, Cooper has never gotten less than 64 percent of the vote. And while the rest of Tennessee has gone red politically, Nashville and Memphis stay blue.

Political analysts don’t expect a change anytime soon.

Bruce Oppenheimer, an expert on Tennessee politics at Vanderbilt University, said the 5th and the 9th (Memphis) congressional districts “are unlike the other seven House districts in their partisan composition. They’re more urban, more minority and more Democratic.”

While Republican state legislators made noises about carving up Davidson County during redistricting, Oppenheimer said, they were stopped by Cooper’s GOP colleagues, who didn’t want more Democrats in their districts.

And David Kanervo, a political science professor emeritus at Austin Peay State University, said “a winning coalition can be easily constructed in his district and not much incentive exists for a strong Republican challenger to be recruited to oppose him.”