Marsha Blackburn

Blackburn, Hagerty not among 19 GOP senators to approve infrastructure bill

Republican Bill Hagerty speaks to a reporter before casting his early vote in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Nineteen Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday. Tennessee Republicans Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Bill Hagerty of Nashville were not among them.

If approved by the House, Tennessee would be in line to receive receive $5.8 billion in additional highway funds, plus $302 million for bridge replacement and repairs. The state also would qualify for an estimated $633 million over five years to improve public transportation options.

Hagerty had tried to peel off Republican support by blocking efforts to expedite a final vote, citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that measure would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

“There’s absolutely no reason for rushing this process and attempting to eliminate scrutiny of the bill, other than the Democrats’ completely artificial, self-imposed and politically-driven timeline,” Hagerty said over the weekend.

Here are the GOP members who joined all 50 Democrats in passing the bill 69-30, according to The New York Times:

  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
  • Michael D. Crapo of Idaho
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Charles E. Grassley of Iowa
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • James Risch of Idaho
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi

DesJarlais, Blackburn get highest TN rankings from American Conservative Union

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Per a press release from the American Conservative Union:

Alexandria, VA – The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), host of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has just released the 50th Edition of its annual Ratings of Congress.  

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the scorecard, ACUF has released a comprehensive new platform to help better hold lawmakers accountable to conservative principles. The system breaks down the voting records of over 15,000 historical and active lawmakers and identifies each lawmaker’s specific policy strength and weakness. The system also provides head-to-head comparisons of elected officials through its 1.4 million vote database. Lawmaker ratings will be used to determine speaking invitations to CPAC and other ACU regional events.

In the 2020 session, four members of the Tennessee congressional delegation received awards for earning scores of 80% or higher from ACUF:

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (96%)

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (96%)

Rep. John Rose (89%

Rep. Mark Green (85%)

Tennessee’s other Republican members received the following scores: Rep. Tim Burchett (79%), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (79%), Rep. David Kustoff (78%), Rep. Phil Roe (74%), and Fmr. Sen. Lamar Alexander (74%).

Democratic lawmakers Rep. Jim Cooper (4%) and Rep. Steve Cohen (0%) qualified for ACUF’s “Coalition of the Radical Left” for earning scores of 10% or lower.

This year CPAC and ACUF will present awards to 122 of the 535 members of Congress. The awards are used to help voters and activists identify which lawmakers are best upholding conservative principles and who to rally behind.

To produce this year’s scorecard, the ACUF’s Center for Legislative Accountability analyzed every vote taken last session and selected a wide-array of issues relating to fiscal, tax, regulatory, education, environment, Second Amendment rights, election security, life, and government integrity. All lawmakers in America at the federal and state levels are scored on a 100-point scale.

Here’s who has been vaccinated among the TN congressional delegation

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Both of Tennessee’s U.S. senators have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the state’s nine House members are more divided.

According to reporting by States Newsroom and the Chattanooga Times Free Press, four House members from Tennessee have gotten the shot: Democrats Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville, and Republicans Scott DesJarlais of Winchester and David Kustoff of Memphis.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) is holding off for the moment.

“Because I was diagnosed with COVID-19 in January, I am waiting to be vaccinated until those who are at a greater risk for the virus are able to be vaccinated first,” he told the Times Free Press. “I continue to strongly urge all Americans to get vaccinated.”

The four remaining Tennessee members, all Republicans, did not respond to the survey or newspaper: Tim Burchett of Knoxville, Mark Green of Ashland City, Diana Harshbarger of Kingsport, and John Rose of Cookeville.

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) responded they had already been innoculated.

Lee, Blackburn say state being short-changed by $164M in COVID-19 relief bill

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following his address to a joint convention of the General Assembly on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee and fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn say in an opinion piece for Fox News that congressional Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is a “blue state payday that shortchanges Tennessee by $164 million because it uses a distribution formula based on unemployment figures rather than population.”

Left unsaid is that the difference makes up about 2.7% of the $6.1 billion in federal money projected to flow to the state under the plan. And nobody is talking about saying no to the massive influx of federal dollars into Tennessee.

“This hyper-partisan bill and the process through which it’s being passed represents everything that’s wrong with Washington,” Lee and Blackburn say in the piece. “And unfortunately, Tennessee and other fiscally conservative states are on the losing end of the deal.”

Tennessee senators praise Alabama HQ for Space Command

Republican Marsha Blackburn speaks to reporters at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee U.S. senators are praising the choice of neighboring Alabama for the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville) say the decision to locate the headquarters in the Tennessee Valley will bring skilled jobs to the region. Huntsville is about 20 miles south of the Tennessee state line. A new Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing plant is also under construction in Huntsville. The $2.3 billion facility is projected to employ about 4,000 people once it goes online next year.

Here’s the joint release from Blackburn and Hagerty:

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Today, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the announcement that the United States Space Command will be headquartered in Huntsville, AL.  

“The new Space Command Center in the Tennessee Valley is an important investment in both the future of our military and in the skilled workforce of the region,” said Senator Blackburn. “This base will bring over 1,600 new jobs in the area and more as the command grows.”

“The new United States Space Command headquarters in the Tennessee Valley will be the primary entity for providing strategic direction to the U.S. military to deter space-based threats globally,” said Senator Hagerty.  “Space Command’s future headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, will bring hundreds of new jobs to Tennesseans and further our state’s rich history of contributing to our national defense.”

Blackburn and Hagerty issue statement on Capitol riot

Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty have issued a joint statement on Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol:

Yesterday was a shocking day of lawlessness. We watched in horror as rioters breached the security of both Houses of Congress and inflicted significant property damage upon those historical halls.

Our Republic will rise above the chaos that ensued yesterday in the Capitol. These violent assaults on our democratic processes threaten to unwind the fabric of this country. As Americans, we must unite in our commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.

We are grateful for the heroic law enforcement officials who helped restore peace, allowing us to complete our work. Last night we reconvened with our Senate colleagues to fulfill our constitutional duty to certify the 2020 election results and prepare for a peaceful transition of power. On January 20th, we will prove to the world that America is still the shining city on the hill.

Blackburn, Hagerty to join effort to challenge presidential election

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Both Tennessee senators are joining an effort among 11 Republicans to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. While all allegations of voter fraud have been thrown out in the courts, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Sen.-elect Bill Hagerty of Nashville said in a statement they will oppose the certification of the vote on Wednesday.

“American democracy relies on the consent of the governed,” Hagerty and Blackburn said in a joint statement. “Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.) along with Senators Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun, (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.), Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) announced they will vote to oppose the results of the 2020 election. They are also calling for Congress to immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.

“On behalf of Tennesseans, we are taking a united stand against the tainted electoral results from the recent Presidential election,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn and Senator-elect Bill Hagerty. “American democracy relies on the consent of the governed. Allegations of voter fraud, irregularities and unconstitutional actions diminish public confidence in what should be a free, fair and transparent process. Protecting the integrity of the electoral process is paramount to preserving trust and legitimacy in the final outcome.”

“For critical moments like these, the Constitution reserves the right to challenge the Electoral College results to members of Congress. On January 6, we will vote to oppose certification of the 2020 election results.”

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R—Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R—Texas), Senator Ron Johnson (R—Wis.), Senator John Kennedy (R—La.), Senator Mike Braun (R—Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator James Lankford (R—Okla.) and Senators-elect Bill Hagerty (R—Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R—Wyo.) Tommy Tuberville (R—Ala.) and Roger Marshall (R—Kan.) released the following statement:

“America is a Republic whose leaders are chosen in democratic elections. Those elections, in turn, must comply with the Constitution and with federal and state law.

“When the voters fairly decide an election, pursuant to the rule of law, the losing candidate should acknowledge and respect the legitimacy of that election. And, if the voters choose to elect a new office-holder, our Nation should have a peaceful transfer of power.

“The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided. The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.

“Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.

“And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are wide-spread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’ That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%).

“Some Members of Congress disagree with that assessment, as do many members of the media.

“But, whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democrat-ic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations.

“Ideally, the courts would have heard evidence and resolved these claims of serious election fraud. Twice, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so; twice, the Court declined.

“On January 6, it is incumbent on Congress to vote on whether to certify the 2020 election re-sults. That vote is the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud.

“At that quadrennial joint session, there is long precedent of Democratic Members of Congress raising objections to presidential election results, as they did in 1969, 2001, 2005, and 2017. And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged.

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—were alleged to have been conducted illegally.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy. Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission—consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices—to consider and resolve the disputed returns.

“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit—conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20—would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

“These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.

How the Tennessee delegation voted on the COVID relief package

Marsha Blackburn speaks at a business forum in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee’s congressional delegation was divided on the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes $600 in direct payments to most Americans.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) voted in favor, while Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) was one of just six members to vote against the measure in the upper chamber.

Among the Republicans in the House, Reps. Tim Burchett of Knoxville, Scott DesJarlais of Winchester, Mark Green of Ashland City, and John Rose of Cookeville were among the 53 no votes.

Fellow GOP Reps. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, David Kustoff of Memphis, and Phil Roe of Johnson City voted in favor, as did Democrats Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis.

The package passed the Senate on a 92-6 vote and the House 359-53. While Tennessee holds 2% of the seats in Congress, the state’s members accounted for 8.5% of the votes against the stimulus package.

Alexander backs Barrett confirmation to Supeme Court

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) attend a Tennessee Titans event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) announced he supports Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

“During her confirmation hearings, Judge Barrett demonstrated respect for the law, intelligence, good character and steady temperament. Having attended college in Tennessee and law school in Indiana, her background will strengthen the Supreme Court by making it more diverse,” Alexander said in a statement.

“She is well-qualified and has said she will decide cases based upon the law, not her personal views. Judge Barrett will be an excellent Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and I will vote to confirm her nomination.”

Fellow Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has been a vocal booster of Barrett since President Donald Trump nominated her.

Tennessee reaction to passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday was met with condolences from across the country and within Tennessee.

While most delivered laudatory commentary about Ginsburg’s trailblazing career, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Bill Hagerty wasted little time in calling on President Donald Trump to quickly nominate a conservative replacement on the nation’s highest court. Senate Republicans in 2016 famously refused to take up then-President Barack Obama’s nomination to succeed deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died in February of that year, because of the upcoming election.

Here is some reaction from Tennessee officials:

President Donald Trump can — and should — nominate a constitutionalist to fill this Supreme Court vacancy; the future of our nation for generations to come depends on it.” 

— Republican U.S. Senate nominee Bill Hagerty of Nashville.

Justice Ginsburg was a smart, talented trailblazer who paved the way for women in the judiciary. She worked hard to achieve prominence on her own merit, and I thank her for her service to our country. 

— U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood)

She made a major difference in the lives of all Americans, but particularly in the lives of the young women who just want a chance to compete on a level playing field and pursue their dreams.

— U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis)

Justice Ginsburg brought decency, intelligence and principle to the Supreme Court. Her life inspired many Americans, especially young women. Her service to our country deserves great respect.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville)

The Nashville Post’s Stephen Elliott dug out some comments from Alexander dating back to political fight over the 2016 Supreme Court vacancy: