Tag Archives: Obama

Senate confirms TN federal judge — first since Scalia’s death

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led Senate easily confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick for a Tennessee federal judgeship on Monday, even as the GOP maintained its blockade against considering Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.

By a 92-0 vote, senators approved Waverly Crenshaw for the lifetime appointment, filling a vacancy in the Middle Tennessee District that officials declared a “judicial emergency” because of the number of cases pending there.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused Republicans of “a concerted effort to undermine the American judiciary system.” He said they have moved far too slowly on Crenshaw’s and other judicial nominations and, as he’s repeatedly done before, attacked their refusal to consider Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.

Crenshaw, an attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, was the first judicial nomination the Senate has approved since Justice Antonin Scalia’s Feb. 13 death opened a seat on the high court. Twenty-seven of Obama’s nominees to district courts and five to the appeals court remain in limbo.
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Cohen headed to Cuba with Obama

For the second time in seven months, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is heading to Cuba, this time with President Barack Obama, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The Memphis Democrat will be part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that will travel with Obama when he makes a historic visit to Cuba as part of his push to re-establish diplomatic relations with the island nation.

The trip, which will take place March 20-22, will mark the first time an American president has visited Cuba in 88 years.

“I am proud to be joining President Obama on this historic and important trip,” Cohen said in a statement. “I have been a longtime supporter of re-opening diplomatic relations with Cuba and have cosponsored numerous bills in Congress to advance U.S.-Cuba relations.”

“Not only is it the right thing to do,” Cohen said, “but it will also open new trade avenues for Memphis entrepreneurs, businesses, medical device companies and health-industry professionals, as well as improve Americans’ freedom to travel.”

TN Democrats back Obama’s gun moves

Some press releases from Tennessee Democrats supporting President Obama’s proposal to put new restrictions on gun sales:

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen
“From Newtown to the Navy Yard, America has been devastated by far too many mass shootings. We cannot continue to sit back and let more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every single year.

“I commend President Obama for taking action to try to prevent future gun violence after Republicans in Congress have refused to act. The President’s actions will strengthen life-saving background checks, protect communities with bolstered enforcement, improve mental health services and fuel research to make guns safer. The vast majority of Americans – including the vast majority of gun owners – believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies. That’s what the President is doing today.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper
“President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do if Congress continued to ignore mass shootings. These seem like common-sense reforms. Congress has refused to act, so I am not surprised that the President has taken the initiative.”

State Democratic Chair Mary Mancini
“President Obama’s bold action on background checks will help to ensure that our communities are safe and that families will not have to fear going to church, school or work.

” State Republicans have not only failed to take any action on background checks but have continuously caved to the whims of the NRA. It was time for the President to be a bold leader and listen to the majority of Americans and Tennesseans who favor stronger background checks.”

TN Republicans bash Obama on guns

Some press releases from Tennessee Republicans criticizing President Obama’s plans, announced Tuesday, to put new restrictions on gun purchases:

State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, in an open letter to the president emailed with the headline, “Take Your Gun Control And Shove It.”

President Barack Obama,

This week you have announced your plan to enforce unilateral, unconstitutional executive orders on gun control. Well, here in Tennessee, we aren’t buying it. You should note that when Congress refuses to act, it’s because the will of the people compel them to do so. That does not then give you the green light to usurp the legislative jurisdiction of Congress. Regardless, our Founding Fathers foresaw such an instance where the federal government may try to enforce laws that were unpopular with the people, whether those laws be constitutional or not, and they provided a blueprint of how to deal with such an issue.
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Obama grants pre-Christmas commutations to two TN drug offenders

Two federal prison inmates from Tennessee, both convicted on charges of distributing cocaine, are among 95 persons receiving pre-Christmas sentence commutations from President Obama, according to a White House press release.

They are listed as Glenn D. Gold of Clarksville and Marcus Stovall of Etowah.

Here’s the information on the two contained in the press release:

Glen D. Gold — Clarksville, TN

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; felon in possession of a firearm (Middle District of Tennessee)

Sentence: Life plus 60 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Apr. 23, 1997)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016

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Marcus Stovall – Etowah, TN

Offense: Possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute (Eastern District of Tennessee)

Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 21, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.


Note: The press release is HERE. Stovall had a petition to vacate his sentence rejected by the court in 2013 and the order in that matter is HERE. Gold’s brother had petitioned the president for a commutation on the change.org website, posted HERE.

Ramsey: Halt immigration from nations with ‘ties to terrorism’

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey called Tuesday for a moratorium on all immigration from countries with “ties to terrorism.”

The comments from Ramsey — a Republican who previously called on fellow Christians to arm themselves — follow a call by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to block all Muslims from entering the United States. Trump’s comments have been widely condemned by rival GOP candidates, party leaders and others.

In a statement, Ramsey said, “While I would not favor an explicitly religious test, I do think it is time to place a moratorium on immigration from a long list of countries with ties to terrorism.” He did not specify which countries he would include.
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White House giving govs more refugee info; Haslam pleased

The White House sought Monday to ease concerns among the nation’s governors about Syrian refugees entering the United States by proposing a new program that would provide regular data on refugees who have settled in their states, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and other governors, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the refugee vetting process as “extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive.” But McDonough said the administration would be willing to work through the National Governors Association to set up a new system to provide governors with more information about the refugees in their states.

Under the new program, once the State Department receives a governor’s request for data on refugees, it would compile a report tailored to that individual state. The data would include information on refugees resettled in the state during the prior month and the fiscal year to date.

…In response to the White House letter, Haslam said he was “pleased to see them responding to what a lot of governors had asked. As I understand it, they said two things: No. 1, they will give us a way to access the data about who has recently settled here in terms of — not names — but how many, ages, families, et cetera, so I think that will help. And then No. 2, they’ve agreed to have a collaborative process about how governors might be more involved in the vetting process, which I was encouraged to see as well.

“I don’t know what that looks like yet but I think they basically said we would set down at the NGA (National Governors Association annual winter meeting), which is in February in Washington. So we’re still two, two-and-a-half months out, but I think that’s good news.”

In addition to the new program proposed, the State Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are prepared to brief governors on the refugee resettlement process and to discuss working together to improve the program at the next governors’ association meeting, McDonough said.

Haslam joins other governors in White House refugee talk

Gov. Bill Haslam was among 34 governors joining a conference call, arranged by Obama administration officials, on refugee policies and security screening procedures Wednesday, according to David Smith, the governor’s communications director. His emailed comment on the meeting:

Yesterday the governor took part in a conference call with both Democratic and Republican governors, senior White House officials as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, FBI and others regarding Syrian refugees. He was briefed on the screening and vetting process of refugees before they can travel to the U.S. Screening, acceptance and placement is legally under the authority of the federal government, but a common sentiment expressed by Democrat and Republican governors was for states to be included as part of the process.

Here’s the White House press release, dated Wednesday:

Today, the White House hosted a call with a bipartisan group of 34 governors from across the country to provide information about existing refugee admissions policies and security screening measures. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led the call and was joined by Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; Mark Giuliano, Deputy Director of the FBI; and representatives from the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The call lasted almost 90 minutes, including an extensive question and answer session among the governors and Administration officials. The officials briefed the governors on the rigorous screening and security vetting process that is required before a refugee is able to travel to the United States. Thirteen governors asked questions.

The Administration officials reiterated what the President has made abundantly clear: that his top priority is the safety of the American people. That’s why, even as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.

Several Governors expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to better understand the process and have their issues addressed directly by representatives of the agencies responsible for the refugee and screening programs. Others encouraged further communication to ensure that governors are able to better respond to questions from the public about the refugee screening and resettlement process.

Denis McDonough also committed to working with the National Governors Association to improve information sharing and maintain an ongoing dialogue.

A bit of TN partisan sniping

In a Monday tweet, Knox County Democrats invited people to fill out a form as potential party candidates in next year’s election. That prompted the Tennessee Republican Party to declare in an email media and supporters that the missive shows state Democratic Chair Mary Mancini is wrong in saying that Tennessee “is not as red as they want us to think it is.”

The tweet said, below a link to an online document: “WANTED: Democratic candidates for 2016 Federal, State and Local Offices. If interested please fill out form above.”

Says the GOP email:

If that assertion (by Mancini) were in any way reflective of the electoral reality in Tennessee would the TNDP have felt it necessary to endorse a “virtual want ad” from the Knox County Democratic Party begging people to sign up and run for public office in the 2016 election cycle? See the attached screenshot. It’s clear the Obama-Clinton policies are still having disastrous effects on the TNDP.

Here’s the bottom line: Democrats are willing to take ANYONE who will put a D after their name on the ballot–and even that is not going well.

“This is how you end up with individuals tied to hate groups and individuals who want to electrocute public officials as your Party’s nominee,” stated TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes

The Haynes reference included links to stories on the 2012 Tennessee Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, who was involved in a group critical of homosexuals, and the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor, Charlie Brown, who was once quoted as saying, after a reference to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s actions, “I would like to strap his butt to the (electric) chair and give him about half the jolt.”

Mancini, asked if she had any comment on the GOP’s missive, sent this email:

“Does he mean the Obama-Clinton policies that have led to 68 consecutive months of private sector job growth, including 268,000 jobs added just last month? Or the Obama-Clinton policies that have led to an unemployment rate that’s at a 7-year-low? Either way, I’d say we, and our potential candidates, are having a pretty good week so far.”

Alexander welcomes Obama financial aid move

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is welcoming a move by the Obama administration to simplify federal financial aid applications, reports WPLN.

The Tennessee senator says the proposal will remove one of the major barriers to kids going to college. He hopes to have a streamlined form in place next year.

Alexander has pushed for years to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — or FAFSA — easier. Obama’s backing represents a breakthrough, the Republican lawmaker says.

“I mean we’ve got bipartisan support. And I learned a long time ago that if you’ve got a good idea, you push it, you work with other people, and you don’t care who gets credit for it. So I’m glad to have the president support it.”

The Obama administration announced last week that it would change the deadline for the FAFSA from January to October, a decision that’s meant to make it easier for families to gather the tax information needed. The IRS will even help fill the form out.

Alexander wants to go even farther. He’d like to shorten the FAFSA from 108 questions to a form the size of a postcard.