April Newsletter

Senator Lamar Alexander
2017-04-01 11:06:41
Latest from Lamar, Notes from the Senate Desk I�d like to share with you some of what I�ve been working on in Tennessee and Washington recently. *Legislation to rescue Tennesseans with zero health care options* I introduced legislation Wednesday, along with Senator Corker, to rescue Tennesseans who next year have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year. There are 34,000 Knoxville area residents who rely on an Affordable Care Act subsidy to purchase insurance, and after the one remaining insurer pulled out of the exchange for 2018, these subsidies are worth as much as bus tickets in a town with no buses running. There is also a real prospect that all 230,000 Tennesseans who buy insurance on the exchange�approximately 195,000 with a subsidy�won�t have any plans to buy next year either. This legislation would help those in Knoxville and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved individual insurance plan off of the exchange. *TVA shouldn�t raise Tennesseans� electric bills to buy power it doesn�t need* TVA has concluded that it doesn�t need more power for the foreseeable future, so�I spoke on the Senate floor urging the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) not to purchase power from the Clean Line Energy Partners� proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line wind energy transmission project, which would carry comparatively more expensive, less reliable electricity to Tennessee and other southeastern states. In fact, a contract with Clean Line Energy Partners could cost TVA ratepayers more than $1 billion over the next 20 to 30 years � which could cause TVA to raise Tennesseans� electric bills for power it doesn�t need.�TVA even sold the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant � which would have produced reliable baseload power for the next 60 years � because they simply didn�t need the power.�Therefore, its board should resist obligating TVA�s ratepayers for any new large power contracts, much less contracts for comparatively expensive and unreliable wind power.� *On March 22, I�chaired �a confirmation hearing for President Trump�s Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta, and the committee approved his nomination on Thursday. We are fortunate to have a presidential nominee for Labor Secretary who understands how a good-paying job is critical to helping workers realize the American dream for themselves and for their families.* *Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute about the education law I sponsored to fix No Child Left Behind* On March 29, I gave a keynote speech at the American Enterprise Institute on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the law I�sponsored to restore local control of schools. In the speech, I said that the lesson of the last 40 years is that a national school board run from Washington, D.C., is inappropriate for three reasons: First� A small federal department of education simply doesn�t have the capacity to evaluate teachers, rate schools, set standards, and approve tests in 100,000 schools in 50 states. Second� Washington involvement can be counterproductive and can create a backlash among those who would probably do the same thing if left alone to do it;�and Third�Ingrained into our big complicated country is a strong preference for local control of schools and a strong skepticism that someone at a great distance can improve on decisions made by those closest to the children. *Congress and the president overturn Obama-era education regulations that undermined local control of schools* On March 27, President Trump signed into law two resolutions I supported to rescind overreaching regulations put in place by the Obama Education Department. President Trump�s signatures on these resolutions are a victory for everyone who was fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about 50 million children and 3.1 million teachers in 100,000 public schools. ' *Filibustering to death the Gorsuch nomination would fly in the face of 230 years of Senate tradition* Throughout most of the U.S. Senate�s history, approval of even the most controversial presidential nominations has required only a majority vote. In fact, during most of the 20th century, when one party controlled the White House and the Senate seventy percent of the time, the minority never filibustered to death a single presidential nominee. In a speech on the Senate floor [link 9], I said that no one has ever disputed our right in the Senate, regardless of who was in charge, to use our constitutional duty of advice and consent to delay, examine, cause nominations to be withdrawn, or even to defeat nominees by a majority vote.�But as we approach a Senate vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch to be a member of the United States Supreme Court, it is useful to remember that the tradition of the United States Senate has been to treat legislative matters and nominations differently: Filibuster to death legislation, yes.� Filibuster to death presidential nominations, no.� *Congress owes patients and their families a prompt, bipartisan reauthorization of FDA user fees * On March 21, the Senate health committee, which I chair, held its first hearing of this Congress on the 2017 reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration�s (FDA) user fee agreements, which expire on September 30. If Congress does not reauthorize these agreements by late July, the FDA will be forced to begin the process of laying off more than 5,000 agency employees. A delay will slow the agency�s review of life-saving drugs and medical devices and lower-cost generic drugs. The sooner we reauthorize the agreements, the sooner we can give patients, reviewers, and companies certainty. *Bill Hagerty is an �outstanding choice� to become the next U.S. ambassador to Japan* On March 23, President Trump officially selected Nashvillian Bill Hagerty to become the next U.S. ambassador of Japan. There�s no more important two-country relationship than the one between the United States and Japan, and no state has a closer relationship with Japan than Tennessee has had. Bill Hagerty has been an integral part of that, having lived and worked in Japan and having served with distinction as our state�s Economic and Community Development commissioner. This is one of the president�s most important appointments and an outstanding choice. Votes on the Senate floor: Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Ben Carson to serve as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Rick Perry to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy Rep. Ryan Zinke to serve as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Wilbur Ross to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce To stop an Obama-era Labor Regulation that Ignores the Law Overturn an Obama-era Education Regulation that Undermined Local Control of Schools A Resolution to Roll Back a Harmful �Blacklisting� Regulation To rescind an Obama-era Education Regulation on Teacher Preparedness *#225: �Find the good and praise it� � Alex Haley; This is one of my favorite quotes. Most of the time it works better than criticism or a sermon.�* -- From *Lamar Alexander�s Little Plaid Book* Contact Information: Website: www.alexander.senate.gov/public/ Office Location: Washington, DC Office 455 Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-4944 | Fax: (202) 228-3398
   

April Newsletter

I�d like to share with you some of what I�ve been working on in Tennessee and Washington recently.

Legislation to rescue Tennesseans with zero health care options

I introduced legislation Wednesday, along with Senator Corker, to rescue Tennesseans who next year have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year. There are 34,000 Knoxville area residents who rely on an Affordable Care Act subsidy to purchase insurance, and after the one remaining insurer pulled out of the exchange for 2018, these subsidies are worth as much as bus tickets in a town with no buses running. There is also a real prospect that all 230,000 Tennesseans who buy insurance on the exchange�approximately 195,000 with a subsidy�won�t have any plans to buy next year either.

This legislation would help those in Knoxville and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved individual insurance plan off of the exchange.

Click here to read more about our legislation, and click here to watch the speech I delivered on the Senate floor.

TVA shouldn�t raise Tennesseans� electric bills to buy power it doesn�t need

TVA has concluded that it doesn�t need more power for the foreseeable future, so I spoke on the Senate floor urging the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) not to purchase power from the Clean Line Energy Partners� proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line wind energy transmission project, which would carry comparatively more expensive, less reliable electricity to Tennessee and other southeastern states.

In fact, a contract with Clean Line Energy Partners could cost TVA ratepayers more than $1 billion over the next 20 to 30 years � which could cause TVA to raise Tennesseans� electric bills for power it doesn�t need. TVA even sold the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant � which would have produced reliable baseload power for the next 60 years � because they simply didn�t need the power. Therefore, its board should resist obligating TVA�s ratepayers for any new large power contracts, much less contracts for comparatively expensive and unreliable wind power. 

Read more here. Video of my floor speech here.

On March 22, I chaired a confirmation hearing for President Trump�s Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta, and the committee approved his nomination on Thursday. We are fortunate to have a presidential nominee for Labor Secretary who understands how a good-paying job is critical to helping workers realize the American dream for themselves and for their families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute about the education law I sponsored to fix No Child Left Behind

On March 29, I gave a keynote speech at the American Enterprise Institute on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the law I sponsored to restore local control of schools. In the speech, I said that the lesson of the last 40 years is that a national school board run from Washington, D.C., is inappropriate for three reasons:

First� A small federal department of education simply doesn�t have the capacity to evaluate teachers, rate schools, set standards, and approve tests in 100,000 schools in 50 states.

Second� Washington involvement can be counterproductive and can create a backlash among those who would probably do the same thing if left alone to do it; and

Third�Ingrained into our big complicated country is a strong preference for local control of schools and a strong skepticism that someone at a great distance can improve on decisions made by those closest to the children.

You can read my full speech here

Congress and the president overturn Obama-era education regulations that undermined local control of schools

On March 27, President Trump signed into law two resolutions I supported to rescind overreaching regulations put in place by the Obama Education Department.

President Trump�s signatures on these resolutions are a victory for everyone who was fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about 50 million children and 3.1 million teachers in 100,000 public schools. Read more here and here

I enjoyed spending time with Cody and his family from Chattanooga while he was on his trip to D.C. through Make-A-Wish. Cody is a special young man with a great enthusiasm for life and for the history behind our nation�s capital. I hope he and his family enjoyed their visit.

Filibustering to death the Gorsuch nomination would fly in the face of 230 years of Senate tradition

Throughout most of the U.S. Senate�s history, approval of even the most controversial presidential nominations has required only a majority vote. In fact, during most of the 20th century, when one party controlled the White House and the Senate seventy percent of the time, the minority never filibustered to death a single presidential nominee.

In a speech on the Senate floor, I said that no one has ever disputed our right in the Senate, regardless of who was in charge, to use our constitutional duty of advice and consent to delay, examine, cause nominations to be withdrawn, or even to defeat nominees by a majority vote. But as we approach a Senate vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch to be a member of the United States Supreme Court, it is useful to remember that the tradition of the United States Senate has been to treat legislative matters and nominations differently: Filibuster to death legislation, yes.  Filibuster to death presidential nominations, no. 

Read my floor speech here

     

Senator Corker and I joined President Trump in Nashville at the Hermitage to celebrate President Andrew Jackson's 250th birthday.

Congress owes patients and their families a prompt, bipartisan reauthorization of FDA user fees

On March 21, the Senate health committee, which I chair, held its first hearing of this Congress on the 2017 reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration�s (FDA) user fee agreements, which expire on September 30.

If Congress does not reauthorize these agreements by late July, the FDA will be forced to begin the process of laying off more than 5,000 agency employees. A delay will slow the agency�s review of life-saving drugs and medical devices and lower-cost generic drugs. The sooner we reauthorize the agreements, the sooner we can give patients, reviewers, and companies certainty.

Bill Hagerty is an �outstanding choice� to become the next U.S. ambassador to Japan

On March 23, President Trump officially selected Nashvillian Bill Hagerty to become the next U.S. ambassador of Japan. There�s no more important two-country relationship than the one between the United States and Japan, and no state has a closer relationship with Japan than Tennessee has had. Bill Hagerty has been an integral part of that, having lived and worked in Japan and having served with distinction as our state�s Economic and Community Development commissioner. This is one of the president�s most important appointments and an outstanding choice.


I congratulated Mike Wilson, who is now retiring, on his more than 41 years of service to the Nashville District Army Corps of Engineers.

#225: �Find the good and praise it� � Alex Haley; This is one of my favorite quotes. Most of the time it works better than criticism or a sermon. 

-- From Lamar Alexander�s Little Plaid Book

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