I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve been working on in Washington and Tennessee this
Challenging President Obama to fix the federal debt and rescue young Americans from being
the “debt-paying generation”
President Obama released a 10-year budget in April, more than two months after the date required by law, that raises taxes and never balances. Senator Corker and I have proposed the “Fiscal Sustainability Act,” which would reduce increases in out-of-control entitlement spending by, among other things, recommending a more realistic Consumer Price Index, which is a measure of inflation. The president recommended a similar change, but additional steps must be taken if we’re going to make a serious attempt to fix the debt and avoid having young Americans forever be known as the debt-paying generation. I voted for the House-passed Republican budget that does not raise taxes, balances in 10 years and makes some of the tough decisions necessary to deal with out-of-control, automatic spending increases on entitlements.
Click here to read more about my reaction to the president’s budget, and here to read more about my call for presidential leadership and support for a plan like the “Fiscal Sustainability Act.”
Moving ahead with legislation to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from enacting fishing restrictions
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on April 30 that it would proceed with its unnecessary fishing restrictions, using buoys and signs to permanently keep fishermen from fishing below dams on the Cumberland River even when water is not spilling through the dam. This latest decision by the Corps is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unreasonable interference with the right to fish below dams the public owns. I am moving ahead in the U.S. Senate with legislation to ensure the freedom of Americans to fish in these waters at times that state wildlife agencies believe is consistent with reasonable efforts to ensure public safety. According to the Corps’ own statistics, water only spills through the dams 20 percent of the time on average. Closing off the tailwaters 100 percent of the time would be like putting the gate down over the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the tracks aren’t dangerous when the train’s not coming, and the water isn’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam. The Senate unanimously supported my amendment allowing Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps from enacting its plan, and we will continue to fight to keep these waters open when the water isn’t dangerous.
Click here to read my statement on the Corps’ latest actions, here to read about growing support for my legislation and here to see me tell a top Corps’ official I won’t approve funding requests if the Corps won’t listen.
Calling for Senate action against unconstitutionally appointed members of the National Labor Relations Board
On April 12, I called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives had approved barring the National Labor Relations Board from taking any actions that require a quorum until the Senate confirms additional members, or the Supreme Court upholds recess appointments by President Obama that a federal court has ruled unconstitutional. I introduced companion legislation in the Senate on April 27, to fight back against the “quorum of one” created by having only one Senate-confirmed, constitutional member on the board. I’ve previously said the individuals the court ruled were not constitutionally appointed – Sharon Block and Richard Griffin – need to leave, and this legislation would put an end to decision-making by them. When the president announced that he would nominate three additional members on April 9, I said it was the Senate’s role to exercise advice and consent on the nominees, but that the two unconstitutionally appointed members still needed to leave. Any decisions in which they continue to participate are invalid.
Click here to read more about my position that the unconstitutionally appointed board members need to leave.
Fighting against President Obama’s job-killing health care law
The president’s health care law was a historic mistake that needs to be repealed in favor of policies that reduce total health care costs and give more power to consumers to control their health care. In particular, I recently visited Onyx Medical Corp. in Memphis, and talked there about how the president’s burdensome tax on medical devices – passed to help pay for the health care law – is already costing Tennesseans jobs. The 2.3 percent tax on medical devices – Tennessee’s top export by dollar value in 2012 – is increasing costs, stifling investment and ultimately driving up prices for patients in need of medical help. I’m fighting for its repeal, and against over-regulation of the industry by the Food and Drug Administration.
On April 24, I asked U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius why the president’s health care law defines a full-time workweek as 30 hours or more. That’s a disincentive for full-time employment, and sounds more like France than the United States.
Click here to read more about my efforts to help the medical device industry, and here to read more about my questioning of Secretary Sebelius.
Applauding the preservation of nearly 4,000 acres connecting the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest
Brookfield Renewable Energy Group and The Nature Conservancy recently announced that they’d reached an agreement to preserve nearly 4,000 acres of land connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. I joined them at Calderwood Dam near Maryville to praise the agreement and discuss what it meant to Tennesseans to protect this land and make more of it available for outdoor recreation. There is no more popular or magnificent section of the Great American Outdoors than the land adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. The announcement on May 3 that more of the land in this area will be transferred to state and federal land agencies means tens of thousands of Tennesseans and visitors will be able to continue to enjoy more hiking, hunting, fishing and boating. The preservation of this land dated back to legislation I cosponsored, which became law in 2004, relicensing Alcoa’s hydroelectric power facilities and enabling the preservation of additional land for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.