Unfinished congressional business: Fred Thompson courthouse, TVA board, TN judge

Congress left behind a lot of unfinished business when it adjourned last week, including several bills dealing with Tennessee matters, reports Michael Collins.

–A bill naming the new $194 million federal courthouse in Nashville after the late Sen. Fred Thompson, passed the House Nov. 29.  But a prolonged fight in the Senate over health benefits for retired coal miners slowed most other business to a halt in the closing days of Congress. As a result, the Senate went home without ever taking a vote on the Nashville courthouse bill.

The offices of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Maryville, who led the push to get the courthouse named after Thompson, said last week they expect to refile the legislation next year. This time, the Senate is likely to go along.

–President Barack Obama had ren-nominated three members of the TVA Board of Directors– Joe Ritch of Huntsville, Ala., Peter Mahurin of Bowling Green, Ky., and Mike McWherter of Jackson, Tenn. – back in July. The Senate, however, never got around to confirming them.

Their nominations expire at the end of the year. Obama could submit their names again in the new year, but there’s little chance they would be confirmed before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20. More than likely, it will be Trump who will fill the board seats.

Edward Stanton III, the U.S. attorney in the state’s Western District, was nominated by Obama for a U.S. District Court judgeship more than a year and a half ago but was never given a confirmation vote in the Senate (though supported by Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker)….

–Legislation inspired by the 2015 terrorist attack at two military installations in Chattanooga sought to counter the propaganda that groups like ISIS use in the recruitment efforts. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, passed the House twice but was never taken up by the Senate.

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