Tag Archives: john duncan

Congressional Gold Medal for Pat Summitt will have to wait

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. says he has ended his campaign to award Pat Summitt the Congressional Gold Medal medal because of a lack of support among fellow congressmen before her death and a law requiring a five-year wait for posthumous honor, reports Michael Collins.

Legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal must be sponsored by two-thirds of Congress — 290 House members, 67 senators. Duncan’s bill to honor Summitt had just 142 co-sponsors — 73 Republicans and 69 Democrats.

Summitt’s death last month further complicated matters: To qualify for the award posthumously, a recipient must be deceased at least five years.

While it won’t be possible to award Summitt with the gold medal right now, Duncan said he intends to see if there are other ways for Congress to honor her life and career.

“She has been honored about every way she can,” he said.

Duncan nominated Summitt for the Congressional Gold Medal back in 2014, just a couple of years after she ended her reign as the head coach of the UT women’s basketball team.

Congressman Duncan diagnosed with prostate cancer

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., the senior member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation, said Tuesday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Further from Michael Collins:

The Knoxville Republican said the cancer was discovered six or seven months ago during a routine medical exam. Follow-up tests showed the cancer is isolated, he said, and doctors have decided at this stage no treatment is necessary.

“I don’t feel sick,” he said.

The U.S. Capitol physician first noticed something was amiss when a test showed Duncan’s prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, was higher than usual, the congressman said. The doctor ordered a biopsy, which confirmed the cancer.

Duncan said he underwent an MRI and other follow-up tests at George Washington University Hospital, which indicated the cancer had not spread.

“I feel good,” he said. “I haven’t missed any work, other than to do the regular (medical) appointments.”

Still, Duncan said, he took the diagnosis seriously because his father, former U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Sr., died of prostate cancer in 1988. Duncan Sr. was 69 at the time of his death, just a year older than his son is now.

Duncan said he has to schedule a follow-up visit with his physician in a few months, “but all of the indications so far have been good.”

Duncan, who represents Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District, was elected to succeed his father during a special election in 1988.

Congressman Duncan endorses Trump for president

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has become the second Tennessee Republican congressman to endorse Donald Trump. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was the first.

News release from Donald Trump campaign:
(Knoxville, TN) April 30th, 2016 – Today, Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., one of the most senior Republicans in the House and the only Republican remaining in Congress who voted against the Iraq War today endorsed Donald Trump for President.

“With only four percent of the world’s population, we buy 25 percent of the world’s goods. Every country wants into our markets. We have tremendous leverage on trade we have not used. Donald Trump will do that.”

“With 58 percent of the people in this world having to get by on less than $4.00 a day, hundreds of millions want to come here. Our economy and infrastructure could not handle all these people, and this means our immigration laws must be enforced. Donald Trump will do that.”

“Finally, almost all Americans now believe it has been a horrible mistake to spend trillions fighting no-win wars in the Middle East. We must start rebuilding our own Country. Donald Trump will do that.”

“For all these reasons, I enthusiastically endorse Donald Trump for President.”

“I am pleased to have the support of Representative Duncan (TN) who is one of the most fiscally conservative Members of the House. If more Members voted like Rep. Duncan, we wouldn’t be wasting trillions of the taxpayer dollars in foreign countries,” said Trump.

Duncan pushes regulation of political intelligence industry

A Tennessee Republican and a New York Democrat have teamed up on a proposal to regulate the little-known political intelligence industry, which mines Capitol Hill for financial information that can be sold to Wall Street investors.

Further from The Tennessean:

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., say political intelligence gathering should be subject to the same public disclosure rules that apply to lobbyists.

“There is this whole other group in the shadows profiting off of information not available to everybody else,” Slaughter said Thursday.

This is the third time Slaughter has introduced legislation to require political intelligence firms to register with Congress, a process that also would require them to identify their clients and the issues they’re interested in. She said congressional staffers and federal agency employees may not always know when they’re talking to someone who intends to extract information to benefit a hedge fund, for example.

Slaughter said the political intelligence industry is generating huge profits with no accountability.

“If it’s worth $400 million a year, it needs some oversight,” she said.

Duncan called the legislation “a common-sense proposal to finally end the ability of political intelligence operatives to work behind closed doors and profit from information that’s available only to the well connected in Washington.”

The STOCK ACT, passed by Congress in 2012, requires members of Congress to disclose their personal investment decisions more frequently and bars them from engaging in insider trading. But a provision regulating the political intelligence industry was stripped out before the final vote, and subsequent efforts to resurrect the idea have stalled.

Congressman bashes UT diversity Christmas post

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. slammed the University of Tennessee on Thursday, reports the News Sentinel, over a holiday party advisory that encourages students and faculty to “ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”

The advisory, posted on the website of the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, also warns that holiday parties should have “no emphasis on religion or culture” and that there should be no games “with religious or cultural themes,” such as Secret Santa. (Note: HERE)

Duncan blasted the advisory as “an extremist type of reaction” and “ridiculously overboard.”

“I am saddened and very disappointed that the school from where I graduated would do this,” the Knoxville Republican said. “People all over the country are sick and tired of all this political correctness. It is going to an extreme that the overwhelming majority of my constituents and the American people are opposed to.”

Duncan said the people he represents in Congress “are disgusted by this action, and people at the university should be taken to task for it.”

…UT spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said the advisory is not a policy but “a list of suggestions” and an online resource for faculty and staff to review as a means of creating a more inclusive holiday environment within their departments and administrative units.

“We recognize that our campus community is diverse and its members observe various religions and faiths,” Simsen said. “Our campus has numerous holiday parties and celebrations, and we do not monitor activities. … We honor Christmas as one of the celebrations of the season and the birth of Jesus, and the corresponding Christmas observance is one of the Christian holidays on our cultural and religious holidays calendar.”

UPDATE/NOTE: Fox News commentator Todd Starnes weighs in on the matter with a video of Duncan commentary included, HERE. And two state Senate committee chairs are calling for the resignation of UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek over the post, HERE.

Cohen, Duncan working on highway funding deal

Congress has approved another short-term extension of federal highway funding — for two weeks — as a House-Senate conference committee tries to reach a compromise on longer-term legislation. Two Tennessee congressmen serving on the conference committee — Reps. Steve Cohen and John Duncan — say they are confident a deal will be reached.

“I think it’s pretty clear we will,” said Cohen, a Democrat who sits on the House-Senate conference committee negotiating the final language. “Transportation is generally a bipartisan issue, and everybody was in a very bipartisan, collegial, let’s-get-it-done mood.”

Duncan, a Republican who also serves on the House-Senate panel, thinks it’s just a matter of time until the new package is finalized.

“I think we’ll have a bill,” he said. “Everybody on both sides seems to want one. It’s all stuff that we’ve been working on for a long time, and this is a bill that we really need to do.”

It has been a decade since Congress passed a highway bill that extends longer than two years, even though the transportation industry and states that rely on federal highway funding say five or six years are needed to plan and develop major road and transit projects.

…Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that authorized $325 billion in spending on highways and transit projects over the next six years, but came up with enough money to pay for only half of them. The Senate passed its own highway bill back in July that guaranteed three years of funding for transportation projects.

Different takes from Duncan, DesJarlais on U.S. House speaker flap

Tennessee Republican Congressmen John J. Duncan Jr. and Scott DesJarlais offered differing commentary Thursday the chaos caused by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt decision to abandon his campaign for House speaker, reports Michael Collins.

(T)he Knoxville Republican, the longest-serving Tennessean in Congress, offered words of caution to the party’s hard line conservatives whose die-hard opposition to McCarthy caused him to pull out of the race to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

“Conservatives in our party need to realize that everybody can’t be as conservative as maybe they want them to be,” Duncan said.

McCarthy’s withdrawal, announced just as House Republicans were about to cast their votes for their nominee for speaker, was “a shocker for everybody,” Duncan said, leaving the GOP scrambling for someone to step into the void and emboldening far-right conservatives who are pledging to push one of their own for the job.

“I have fought as hard as anybody could fight throughout my entire life for the conservative cause, especially for fiscal conservatism,” Duncan said. “But you can’t just coalesce around one little tiny segment of the party and win elections. You have to be open to a broader cross section of the party to win elections.”

…DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican and a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus that opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, said McCarthy’s sudden decision to get out of the race “gives us a real opportunity to give the people what they want, and that is a new direction in leadership.”

“We need a fresh face. We need a new approach,” said DesJarlais, who was the only Tennessee Republican to vote against re-electing Boehner as speaker earlier this year.

Duncan campaign’s $40K in tickets apparently broke law

For years, Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. has been buying tickets with campaign funds and giving them to constituents, even though that’s apparently a violation of federal law.

From Michael Collins’ report:

“If this is just giving tickets to sporting events and other events to constituents and was unrelated to any campaign fundraising, then it was a violation of the law,” said Larry Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission and now the senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that advocates enforcement of campaign finance laws.

Duncan’s campaign expense reports show he spent nearly $40,000 in campaign funds to entertain constituents at athletic events or the symphony between 2007 and 2013, the year he stopped giving out the tickets. Just $7,300 of that total was reported as being spent on fundraisers, which is allowed under federal law. The fundraising expenses included the cost of food and room rental.

Duncan’s office says he was under the impression campaign rules allowed him to use the funds to buy tickets to athletic events or concerts as long as he gave them away and didn’t use them himself — which, his spokesman says, he never did.

(Update/Note: Charlie Daniel’s take)
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The purchases were disclosed on his campaign expense reports — frequently under the unambiguous heading “athletic tickets for constituents” — and federal elections officials never questioned the practice, said his spokesman, Patrick Newton.

“We’ve always reported and said what we were doing,” Newton said. “They never told us we couldn’t do it, and they go through our reports every year.”

Regardless, Duncan stopped buying the tickets two years ago after his campaign received a letter from the Federal Election Commission saying such ticket purchases were allowed only if they were part of a specific office event or campaign activity, Newton said.

The letter was a general advisory sent to Congress members and was not directed specifically at the Duncan campaign, Newton said.

Federal Election Commission officials declined to say whether Duncan was breaking the law, but referred a reporter to regulations that have been in place since 1995 and govern the use of federal campaign funds for entertainment.

Cooper, Duncan still undecided on Iran nuclear deal

Eight of the 11 members of the Tennessee congressional delegation say they will oppose the Iran nuclear deal when it comes to a vote, reports Michael Collins. Only one member, Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, supports it.

Two others — U.S. Reps. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, and Jim Cooper, D-Nashville — are still studying the deal and remain undecided.

Duncan “continues to read as much as he can about the pros and cons of the bill and wants to give it a little more thought and give his constituents more time to contact him before making a decision,” said his spokesman, Patrick Newton.

Duncan is thus the only Tennessee Republican member of Congress not to declare his opposition in advance — in most cases, as with Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, via press release. Cooper and Cohen are the only two Democrats in the delegation.

Cohen, Duncan oppose trade bill favored by other TN congressmen

Democrat Steve Cohen and Republican John Duncan Jr. were the only Tennessee U.S. House members voting against the so-called “fast track” trade bill last week, reports Michael Collins.

The vote was an especially difficult one for Cohen. The Memphis Democrat considers himself pro-trade and said he would like to have supported the president, but he just had too many concerns about giving Obama “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade agreements with other countries.

“It was taking power away from the Congress to look at these treaties and possibly amend them to make them in keeping with Americans’ concerns about job losses,” Cohen said.

The vote was not a difficult one for Duncan. The Knoxville Republican, who has been in office for close to 27 years, has never voted in favor of giving fast-track authority to any president, Democrat or Republican, even though the GOP and corporate groups have long been free-trade supporters.

“The executive branch has become too powerful, and I just think it’s not a good policy for the Congress to cede more authority and power to the executive branch,” he said.

Obama’s push for fast-track authority — which would streamline the process for negotiating international trade deals and would strip Congress of its power to change those agreements — has tested long-held loyalties between the White House and congressional Democrats and created a curious alliance between Obama and Republicans.

The peculiar politics of trade were on full display a couple of weeks ago, when pro-labor Democrats in the U.S. House deserted the president en masse and killed the fast-track legislation, which had been coupled with a jobs-retraining assistance program for workers displaced by trade.