congress

Roe announces plan to retire from Congress, setting off mad scramble

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) announced Friday he won’t seek a seventh term in Congress, a decision likely to set off a mad scramble among potential successors. State lawmakers expected to consider bids include House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison of Cosby and fellow GOP Reps. David Hawk of Greeneville, Timothy Hill of Blountville, and maybe even Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough. Jon Lundberg of Bristol is the only sitting  state Senate member believed to be mulling it over. Add to that a laundry list of current and former mayors from northeast Tennessee district. It’s likely to be a wild ride.

For an in-depth look at previous races and potential candidates in the 1st District, see the Dec. 6 print edition of The Tennessee Journal.

Here’s Roe’s full statement:

Serving East Tennesseans these past 11 years has been the honor of my life, and I will be forever grateful for the trust my friends and neighbors put in me to represent them. As someone who practiced medicine for over 30 years, I said I would serve five or six terms because I never intended this job to be a second career. After prayerful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

First and foremost, I want to thank my family. No one could do this job without a loving a supportive family, and I look forward to spending more time at home with my wife Clarinda, my adult children and my grandchildren.

As a veteran, I was honored to be selected to chair the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in 2017. I had one, three and six-year legislative goals for the committee: to increase access to care, improve the electronic health records system, review VA assets to ensure an effective use of resources, and bring true accountability to the department. I never could have imagined that we would accomplish all that in my first term leading the committee – in large part because of the leadership of President Trump. In particular, I was proud to author the MISSION Act – a transformative piece of legislation to ensure veterans have the ability to receive the best possible care now, and in the future – and the Forever GI Bill – to ensure veterans never lose access to the education benefits they have earned. I’ll leave Congress at the end of the year knowing that our nation’s heroes are better served today because of our work. I am still hopeful that, before the 116th Congress adjourns, we will pass important reforms that improve outreach to veterans in crisis to address the suicide epidemic.

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Lee’s Medicaid block grant proposal deemed ‘illegal’ by House chairman

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at the state Capitol on Sept. 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s application for a Medicaid block grant is drawing fire from a power chairman in the U.S. House, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

“This is illegal and the Trump Administration does not have the authority to do this,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) wrote on Twitter.

“I wrote to [Health Secretary Alex] Azar this summer reminding him HHS does not have legal authority to implement a block grant or per capita cap on the Medicaid program,” Pallone said. “While Secretary Azar has yet to respond to me, ignoring oversight letters from Congress doesn’t change the fact that block granting Medicaid is illegal.”

The Tennessee proposal has drawn praise from Republican Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn.

The details of Lee’s block grant application were unveiled this week, launching a 30-comment period before it is submitted to the federal government. Supporters say it can be approved without congressional oversight.

“Gov. Lee has reiterated that point throughout this process and it will be up to [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] to communicate what they are willing to accept during the negotiations,” said Laine Arnold, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Corker trying, again, to set up congressional block to Trump tariffs

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is making a new push to allow Congress to block President Donald Trump’s tariffs on U.S. allies, though GOP leaders may stop it in its tracks once again, reports Politico.

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Angry Corker blames tariff amendment rejection on Republicans afraid to ‘poke the bear’ (President Trump)

Sen. Bob Corker chastised his fellow Republicans on Tuesday for failing to allow a vote on his proposal giving Congress the chance to accept or reject tariffs imposed by the president, reports USA Today.

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Black has missed 36 percent of U.S. House votes this year while campaigning for governor

As Diane Black runs for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, she has missed more than a third of floor votes in the U.S. House of Representatives this year, reports The Tennessean. That’s far more than the rest of the Tennessee congressional delegation and more than seven of the eight other congressmen running for governor in other states.

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Roe balks at backing Trump administration move to eliminate mandated health insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions

Many Republican congressmen – including at least one member of the Tennessee delegation — are unhappy that the Trump administration has moved to eliminate a provision in the Obamacare law that assures health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, reports Politico.

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Corker spurns Trump request; files bipartisan tariffs legislation with Alexander as co-sponsor

Sen. Bob Corker introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would give Congress new authority to check the president’s trade moves, going forward with the legislation despite a personal appeal from President Trump to back off, reports the Washington Post.

Corker’s bill would require congressional approval when the president enacts tariffs under the auspices of national security, as Trump did last week in imposing levies on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The legislation, which Corker released with a total of nine Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, is the most forceful congressional response to date to Trump’s protectionist trade agenda. For the first time, at least some Republicans are uniting behind a concrete plan to force the president to change course on trade, after months of pleas and appeals achieved little.

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Corker’s push for tariff legislation reported picking up steam

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker outlined his proposal to give Congress authority to block tariffs during a meeting with fellow Republican senators Tuesday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he may allow a vote on it, reports Politico.

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Alexander joins Cruz in seeking an agenda for Republican U.S. senators

Under the headline “GOP senators need an agenda — so they’re doing a poll,” Politico reports Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Texas Sen. Ted have been quietly circulating an unusual “survey” of their colleagues in recent weeks asking about their level of support for dozens of legislative proposals, some of them highly controversial.

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Black bill proposes crowdfunding to help pay for border wall with Mexico

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is stressing her opposition to illegal immigration in campaigning for governor, has proposed in Congress to use crowdfunding to help pay for the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump, reports Fox News. She has also issued a press release on the “Border Wall Trust Fund Act.”

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