Tag Archives: Steve Cohen

Cohen on presidential election: ‘This is Armageddon’

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen kicked off a get-out-the-vote campaign by Shelby County Democrats on Saturday with a brief but fiery speech supporting Hillary Clinton and attacking Donald Trump, reports Jackson Baker.

“This is Armageddon,” Cohen told a sizeable (crowd) crammed into a meeting room at the headquarters. “We have a choice between a lady who wants to carry on Barack Obama’s legacy and …the most Neanderthal candidate we’ve ever had as the nominee of a major political party.”

Clinton’s opponent Donald Trump is “trying to win with lies and hate and misinformation,” and by “dividing people,” Cohen said.

Linking Trump to Russia, Cohen said, “We’re going to find out more and more about his contacts with Russia. We’ve never had a candidate in our history who owes so much, or any amount, for that matter, to a foreign nation. And particularly a foreign nation that is one of our most powerful enemies, or the antithesis of what America is about.”

Cohen said Clinton’s campaign was one of “looking out for America,” while Trump’s was devoted to “self-interest” and involvement with “oligarchs.”

…Scoffing at various public criticisms of Clinton for faults of her own, Cohen said, “The perfect is enemy of the good. And I’m telling you, Hillary Clinton is very, very good.”

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.”

Cohen joins House floor sit-in for gun control vote

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and dozens of other House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor Wednesday, demanding a vote on legislation to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, according to Michael Collins.

Cohen and other Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia brought the House’s morning proceedings to an abrupt halt to call attention to House GOP leaders’ refusal to permit a vote on gun-control legislation.

“Moments of silence have grown old and seem hollow,” said Cohen, a Memphis Democrat. “The American people want a bill to prohibit gun sales to suspected terrorists to come to the floor and pass. If there is a reasonable threat to prohibit an individual from flying, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon. In addition, gun show and internet loopholes need to be closed when purchasing guns.”

The Democrats’ protest came just 10 days after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at an Orlando gay nightclub in the nation’s worst mass shooting. On Monday, the Senate failed to advance four gun-control measures.

Wednesday’s protest began when Lewis, a leading figure from the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, delivered a fiery speech and called for Democrats to join him on the floor.

Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, Tennessee’s only other Democratic congressman, gave a report to WTVF-TV on the protest. An excerpt:

Republicans in charge called a recess and turned off the floor cameras. Democratic lawmakers resorted to social media pictures and live streaming the day-long event.

“This is a very rare moment in the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D, Nashville) via Facetime, “I’ll show you what’s going on behind me normally phones are not allowed on the house floor but this is an exception.”

Cooper said he just wants to do his job.

“This is about the laziest congress in history and we should do our job which is to vote,” he said, “and whether you vote for or against these measures you should go on record and vote.”

Cohen bill calls for reporting all DUI arrests to NCIC

News release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) today introduced the bipartisan DUI Reporting Act of 2016. This bill would close a reporting loophole that inadvertently enables repeat DUI offenders to be tried more leniently as first time offenders. The DUI Reporting Act would require, as a condition of full Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding, that DUI arrests are reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the national crime database that is made instantly available to police right from their patrol cars, so repeat offenders can be charged appropriately.

“It is shameful that all DUI arrests are not reported to the national crime database,” said Congressman Cohen. “The consequences of this lack of reporting can prove life-threatening. Last year there was a tragic accident just outside of Memphis. Two teenage girls on their way to a vacation were killed around 6:30 a.m. when the car in which they were being driven was struck by a drunk driver who had accrued seven DUI charges since 2008 but had been allowed to plead guilty five times to a first-offense DUI. This story broke my heart, and I believe the hearts of everyone in the Mid-South. Police need access to this information to get drunk drivers off the road, and repeat offenders need to be charged appropriately.”
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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.

Crim challenges Cohen to give Memphis a ‘Nashville connection’

Larry Crim, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and 2014, is this year among candidates running the Democratic nomination to the 9th Congressional District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.

Crim finished fourth in the 2012 primary, won by Mark Clayton who went on to lose to Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, and was also fourth in the 2014 primary, won by Gordon Ball, who went on to lose to Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. And he also has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2018, when Corker’s seat will be up again (Crim 2018 website HERE.)

(Note: Insofar as Democrats go, the late John Jay Hooker was unquestionably the best known perennial candidate and won his party’s nomination for governor twice, in 1970 and 2006. Among Republicans, Hubert Patty of Maryville is the standout, winning the party gubernatorial nomination in 1962 (losing to Democrat Frank Clement) and subsequently running for governor six more times and for U.S. Senator seven times.

Crim’s 2016 news release is below. Continue reading

Protesters block Memphis Zoo parking; Cohen gets involved

A congressman Cohen and Memphis Police successfully negotiated an end to a sit-in of sorts by protesters who oppose parking by visitors to the Memphis zoo on a grassy area of Overton Park, reports the Commercial Appeal.

No arrests or injuries occurred by midday after Memphis police and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, whose home borders the park, negotiated a middle-ground solution — just for Saturday — that allowed vehicles to park on about a third of the large lawn bordered by the Memphis Zoo, Memphis College of Art and Rainbow Lake.

Since receiving the backing earlier this month from the Memphis City Council, zoo officials had expanded zoo parking to cover most of the greensward on high-visitation days.

Several witnesses said the civil disobedience started midmorning when a woman in her 20s lay down in the dirt drive to block cars from entering the greensward.

Others quickly joined her, including musicians playing a mandolin, guitar, accordion and conga drum.

Police swooped in, but instead of making arrests and clearing a path, Memphis Police Maj. Dana Sampietro talked with Cohen and some protest leaders, including insurance agent Bill Stegall who lives in the adjoining Evergreen Historic Disitrict.

Facing a crowd of perhaps 200 protesters, Stegall used a squad car’s microphone to announce the compromise and encourage the protesters to accept it.

“First I want to say something about the Memphis police force,” Stegall told the protesters. “They have just been as nice…” The crowd roared its approval.

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.”

Cohen’s bill on plane seat size is grounded

It didn’t take long for U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen’s crusade for larger airplane seats to hit turbulence in Congress, reports Michael Collins.

Taking up the cause of passengers who are tired of squeezing into narrow seats for long flights, the Memphis Democrat filed legislation last Monday that for the first time would require the federal government to establish minimum seat-size standards and a minimum distance between rows of seats on airplanes.

By Thursday, the proposal had been grounded. A House subcommittee rejected the measure on a vote of 26-33 when Cohen offered it as an amendment to a broader aviation bill.

“This was a vote against the safety and health of airline passengers,” a disappointed Cohen said afterward.

But as often happens in Washington, the proposal may have been knocked down, but it’s not yet dead. Cohen said he will continue to pursue the legislation as a stand-alone bill.

Consumer advocacy groups have been pushing for years for more leg room and bigger seats on planes.

Narrower seats and seat pitches — the distance between seats — have allowed airlines to fit more seats on planes, but at the cost of passenger comfort, critics charge.

The average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s to about 31 inches today, according to Cohen’s office. The average width of an airline seat has shrunk from 18 inches to about 16½.

Cohen seeks to ease pain in the airline seat

News release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced that he plans to offer his Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act (H.R. 4490) as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.

FAA Reauthorization bill is scheduled to be marked up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday. The SEAT Act would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish minimum seat size standards for the safety and health of airline passengers. Congressman Cohen is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation.

“Shrinking seats raise safety and health concerns, and it’s time for the FAA to take action,” said Congressman Cohen “The FAA requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven’t conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today’s smaller seats. Doctors have also warned that deep vein thrombosis can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs during longer flights. Consumers are tired of being squeezed both physically and fiscally by airlines.”

The average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s to about 31 inches today. The average width of an airline seat has also shrunk from 18 inches to about 16 ½. A copy of Congressman Cohen’s remarks from the Congressional Record can be found here.