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Rep. Powell Announces Support for Insure TN

Press release from State Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville; January 21, 2015:

Over the last couple of weeks, I have thoroughly reviewed Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Plan, listened to the constituents of House District 53, and asked questions to the Administration as well as healthcare experts.  After careful consideration, I support Insure Tennessee and will vote for the proposal when given the opportunity on the House Floor.

Insure Tennessee is a unique Tennessee plan that will provide 200,000 working Tennesseans the opportunity to have basic healthcare.  Insure Tennessee takes a conservative approach to insuring more Tennesseans by offering new private market choices while promoting personal responsibility through cost-sharing components of the plan.  Most importantly, the proposal will not create any new taxes for Tennesseans or add any state cost to the budget.

I hope my fellow legislators will put people above politics, governing before elections, and pragmatism over ideology in consideration of Insure Tennessee.  I believe it is important to make my support known now to continue building consensus on both sides of the aisle.  I will assist as needed during the special session of the General Assembly to help win passage of this resolution.  There are 200,000 working Tennesseans counting on 132 legislators to do the right thing.  These working Tennesseans can count on me to support Insure Tennessee and continue moving our state forward.

Alexander Hasn’t Won Carr Over

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander came away from the Republican primary in August with a comfortable margin separating him from state Rep. Joe Carr, the challenger who received the second-most votes in the race.

Carr only captured 40.6 percent of the vote, and in a field of mostly unknown challengers — five others besides Carr — Alexander took the nomination with 49.65 percent.

But Alexander’s 331,705 vote total constituted just under half the total 668,039 cast — meaning more GOP primary voters favored someone other than Alexander than were for him.

Only 240,949 votes were cast in the Democratic primary, which was won by Gordon Ball, a Knoxville trial lawyer attorney whom Alexander paints as an ally of the Obama administration and various liberal special-interest groups that traditionally align with the Democratic Party.

Alexander is running a campaign that centers on convincing Tennessee general election voters he’ll be a dependable vote against Barack Obama’s agenda during the president’s last two years in the White House.

But Alexander has yet to win over his highest-profile critic in the Republican Party. Carr told TNReport he’s not ready to endorse Alexander — and likely won’t until the incumbent Republican comes out strongly against Common Core and promises to fight “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

“It’s not up to me. It’s up to Sen. Alexander,” Carr said, adding that he’s had no communication with Alexander personally since the two met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Rutherford County earlier this month. At that meeting, Carr said they talked about issues and he accepted Alexander’s apology for not taking Carr’s primary election-night phone calls to congratulate him on winning.

The ball’s in his court,” Carr said.

As for Alexander promising to earn a reputation as an impediment to Obama’s policies and programs going forward,  Carr told TNReport he has “no idea” what the campaign or the state Republican Party are talking about in that regard.

I will be as excited and intrigued as every other voter in Tennessee to see this strange turn of events,” said Carr, whose principle primary campaign theme was that Alexander’s been more friend than foe to Obama these last six years. 

Carr pointed to Alexander’s backing of various Obama administration initiatives and appointments as evidence he’s never really applied himself consistently or wholeheartedly to thwarting the president’s will.

The announcement last week that Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down offered a prime example of how Alexander has often tended to earnestly award his trust to President Obama — even to the point of siding with liberal Democrats and against conservative Republicans — only to claim he regrets it later.

Alexander, who was one of 18 Republicans who joined with 55 Senate Democratic to confirm Holder in 2009, said in a statement that when it comes time for the president to pick Holder’s replacement, he hopes Obama “will nominate an attorney general this time who will faithfully apply the laws Congress has passed and not seek to impose policies the president wishes Congress had passed. The role of the top law enforcement officer in the country is to enforce the law—not to advance the president’s agenda.”

It should have been clear to Alexander during the confirmation process — and indeed it was to 21 other Republicans in the U.S. Senate — that Holder was going to be a problematic figure among conservatives, Carr suggested. Holder’s political aims, his ambitions and his performance as attorney general could have been “easily predicted and forecast by his past behaviors when he was in the Clinton administration,” Carr said.

In a strategy similar to Carr’s, Ball has pointed to Alexander’s Senate voting record as a defense against TNGOP claims that a vote for him will be a vote for Obama.

Ball is pushing Alexander to debate — a challenge Alexander has thus far dodged. Similarly, Alexander refused to share a debate stage with Carr during the GOP primary campaign.

Ball has said Alexander is doing Tennesseans a “disservice” by depriving them of a chance to see the candidates for such a powerful elected office challenge each other on matters of great national importance.

Ball, Alexander Trying to Outdistance Each Other from Obama

Depending on who you talk to, both candidates for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this year have a lot in common with Barack Obama.

Earlier this week the Tennessee Republican Party pitched out a press release painting a vote for Gordon Ball, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate, as a vote in favor of Obama’s “agenda,” which includes Obamacare, higher taxes, less restrictions on abortion, unions and gun control.

“Like many Democrats in Tennessee—and every personal injury lawyer I’ve come across—Ball will try to cloak himself with conservative rhetoric in order to win,” TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney said in a news release. “But the reality is: He’ll be one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda.”

In Devaney’s telling, Tennesseans face a straightforward choice. They can send Alexander back to Washington so he can “defend us from President Obama,” or they can put the bat in the hands of Ball, who would be “Obama’s lapdog in the Senate.”

Ball thinks Team Lamar is overplaying just how dependably Alexander can be relied upon to take on the president. He launched the You-Love-Obama accusation right back at the third-term-seeking Beltway insider.

It’s Lamar Alexander who’s earned a reputation as one of the White House’s pet senators, having “voted with President Barack Obama 62 percent of the time,” a press release from the Ball camp indicated Tuesday.

Ball noted that’d he’d be starting with a clean slate if elected. “I have voted with (the president) 0 percent of the time,” he said. And he fashions himself as more middle-of-the-road than left-of-center. Ball compared his political leanings to those of Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.

Ball’s strategy of distancing himself from a president with whom he shares party affiliation looks to resemble that of Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, another upstart Southern Democrat looking to upset a GOP fixture on the national political scene. Grimes is running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a recent TV ad featuring her shooting clay pigeons, Grimes also took aim at McConnell’s loyalty to University of Kentucky basketball and his knowledge of basic firearms safety. She also peppered the president. “I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA,” she said.

Grimes was the keynote speaker this summer at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner. Neither Ball, nor his opponent in the Democratic primary, Terry Adams, spoke at that event.

Ball and Alexander will get a chance to go mano a mano to hash out who’s more Obama-esque next month. Both have agreed to appear at an Oct. 16 state Farm Bureau candidates’ forum at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

Ball Announces Own List of ‘Diverse’ Supporters in U.S. Senate Campaign

Press release from the Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate Campaign; August 25, 2014:

The Gordon Ball for Senate Campaign announced today the first round of “Tennesseans For Ball” endorsement which includes a diverse list of Democrats, Republicans and Independents from across the state.

“We have been talking to elected leaders, the business community and concerned Tennesseans who are standing with us in our challenge to take on career politician Sen. Lamar Alexander,” Gordon Ball said “I want to work with all Tennesseans from diverse and various backgrounds to take back our state from corporate interests. We need to help working Tennesseans. Lamar Alexander, if you look at his voting record, has worked against them.”

The list is split across the state and includes former University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, Congressman Jim Cooper, businessman Mark Hazlewood and former Democratic Senate primary opponent, Terry Adams.

  • Terry Adams, Former U.S. Senate Candidate and Knoxville Attorney
  • Joe Armstrong, State Representative
  • Brady Banks, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Megan Barry, Metro/Nashville Councilwoman
  • Murry Bartow, Former East Tennessee State University Head Basketball Coach
  • Rodney Beard, Pastor Living Word Community Church
  • Fabian Bedne, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Bill Blankenship, Architect
  • Melvin Bond, Haywood County Sheriff
  • Ed Brantley, Knox County Commissioner
  • Gary Brewer, Attorney
  • Joe Brown, Memphis City Councilman
  • Frank Cagle, Talk Show Host, Metropulse columnist and retired political analyst
  • Angela Callis, Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeewoman-Elect
  • Karen Camper, State Representative
  • Charles Carpenter, Memphis Attorney
  • Bryan Carson, Shelby County Democratic Party Chair
  • Gale Jones Carson, Tennessee Democratic Party Secretary and Member of the DNC
  • Sidney Chism, Shelby County Commissioner
  • Bob Clement, Former U.S. Congressman
  • Barbara Cooper, State Representative
  • Jim Cooper, U.S. Congressman
  • Larry Crim, CEO of Christian Counseling Centers of America
  • Anthony Davis, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Lincoln Davis, Former U.S. Congressman
  • Paige Dennis, Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeewoman
  • Dick Eskind, Nashville Businessman
  • Joann Favors, State Representative
  • Billy Fields, Former Davidson County Democratic Party Chair
  • Craig Fitzhugh, State Representative and Democratic House Minority Leader
  • Justin Ford, Shelby County Commissioner
  • Chip Forrester, Former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman
  • Renard Francois, Nashville Businessman
  • Bill Freeman, Nashville Businessman
  • Janis Fullilove, Memphis City Councilwoman
  • Brenda Gilmore, State Representative
  • Wanda Halbert, Memphis City Councilwoman
  • Lee Harris, Memphis City Councilman and Democratic Nominee State Senate District 29
  • Mark Hazlewood, Former President of Pilot Flying J
  • Roy Herron, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman
  • Walter Hunt, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Tom Jesse, Johnson City Attorney
  • Martavius Jones, Former Memphis School Board Member
  • Sherry Jones, State Representative
  • Myron Lowery, Vice Chairman Memphis City Council
  • Bill Lusk, Mayor of Signal Mountain
  • Sandy Lusk, Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeewoman
  • John R. Marek, Memphis Attorney
  • Beverly Marrero, Former State Senator
  • Lonnell Matthews, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Jerry Maynard, Metro/Nashville Councilman
  • Kim McMillan, Mayor of Clarksville
  • Harold Middlebrook, Pastor Canaan Baptist Church
  • Reginald Milton, Shelby County Commissioner-elect
  • Bo Mitchell, State Representative
  • Larry Miller, State Representative
  • Colonel Charles L. and Ellen Moore, U.S. Army Ret.
  • Gary Moore, President of AFL-CIO
  • Sandra Moore, Metro/Nashville Councilwoman
  • Steve Mulroy, Shelby County Commissioner
  • Wade Munday, Tennessee Democratic Party Treasurer
  • Diane Neighbors, Metro/Nashville Vice-Mayor
  • Bill Owen, Former State Senator and Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeeman
  • Adrienne Pakis-Gillon, Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeewoman
  • Bruce Pearl, Former University of Tennessee Head Men’s Basketball Coach and Current Auburn Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Jason Powell, State Representative
  • Jeannie Richardson, Former State Representative
  • Karl and Gail Schledwitz, Memphis Businessman
  • Michael Scoggins, Business Manager Iron Workers Local 167
  • Jim Sellers, U.S. Air Force Ret. and Department of Veterans Affairs Ret.
  • Paul Shaffer, Business Manager IBEW Local 474
  • Johnny Shaw, State Representative
  • Paul Smith, Former Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair
  • Robert Sproles, Business Manager Steamfitters Local 614 and Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeeman
  • A.J. Starling, Treasurer of AFL-CIO
  • Steve Steffens, Memphis Democratic Blogger and Activist
  • Mike Stewart, State Representative
  • Jim Strickland, Chairman Memphis City Council
  • Jerry Summers, Attorney
  • Dwayne Thompson, Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committeeman and Democratic Nominee State Representative District 96
  • Joe Towns, State Representative
  • Johnnie Turner, State Representative
  • Van Turner, Former Shelby County Democratic Party Chair and Shelby County Commissioner-elect
  • Joyce Washington, Democratic Nominee State Representative District 76
  • Gay Webb, Dead Pigeon River Council
  • Kenneth Whalum, Pastor New Olivet Baptist Church
  • Ruby Wharton, Memphis Attorney
  • Jason D. Williams, Entertainer of Jason and the Scorchers
  • Norro Wilson, Grammy Award Winner
  • Tim Woodward
  • Jeff Yarbro, Democratic Nominee State Senate District 21
  • Zach Young, Goodlettsville City Commissioner

The Ball campaign is chaired by former U.S. Congressman Lincoln Davis. Serving as co-chairs in the Eastern Division is Rep. Joe T. Armstrong and Democratic Senate Primary opponent Terry Adams. The Middle Division is being represented by co-chairs Bill Freeman and Metro/Nashville Councilman-At-Large Jerry Maynard. TNDP treasurer Gale Jones Carson and Rep. Craig Fitzhugh have committed to representing Ball in the Western Division.

Ball Announces 2014 Campaign Team

Press release from the Campaign for Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate; August 21, 2014:

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Gordon Ball announced Wednesday the 2014 Election Campaign Team to lead the way in challenging career politician Sen. Lamar Alexander in the General Election.

The campaign election team will be headed by democratic leaders from across the state of Tennessee. Former U.S. Congressional Representative for the 4th District Lincoln Davis. He will lead a team comprising chairs representing the three grand division including former U.S. Senate democrat candidate Terry Adams and 15th District Representative Joe E. Armstrong for the Eastern Division. Nashville Businessman Bill Freeman and Nashville Metro Council Member-At-Large Jerry Maynard will be co-chairs in Middle Tennessee working with the Gordon Ball for Senate campaign. West Tennessee will be headed by co-chairs Minority House Leader Rep. Craig Fitzhugh and TN Democratic Party Secretary and member of the DNC, Gale Jones Carson.

“Tennesseans are facing issues which need to be addressed because our state’s families, students and seniors are struggling..” Ball said. “Our campaign team is ready to bring tennessee common sense, compassion and leadership to solve the problems that our state is facing. We believe that we help our neighbors, we don’t abandon them because it is inconvenient or will interfere with political special interest groups dictating an agenda from DC that doesn’t help average people . We must push the discussion for a higher minimum wage, keeping our hospitals open by accepting Medicaid Expansion and taking care of our veterans.

“I am humbled to have these amazing state-wide leaders willing to stand with me as we work toward the next generation. None of us are taking anything for granted. We must do what is right. It isn’t going to be easy. We know this but we aren’t afraid. We won’t back down,” Ball added. “There is so much we can do together and we all are ready to get to work.”

For more information, visit www.gordonballsenate.com

Following Primary, Alexander Emphasizes Moderate Credentials

Having sufficiently stressed his conservative credentials to stave off a Tea-Party challenge from his right, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is looking now to win support among moderate liberals and centrists.

The two-term incumbent has released what he hopes will be a growing list of endorsements he’s picked up from the ranks of Democrats and independents.

Included in what he’s calling “Tennesseans for Alexander” are Democratic notables like former U.S. Rep. John Tanner and the longest-serving member of the Tennessee General Assembly, state Sen. Douglas Henry.

Also on the list are several current or former mayors, as well as former University of Tennessee Football Coach Johnny Majors and Rochelle Stevens, an Olympic gold medalist.

Alexander’s Tea Party-backed primary opponent, state Rep. Joe Carr, criticized Alexander as being too moderate.

During his campaign Alexander did his best to highlight his conservative endorsements and credentials, as well as his opposition to President Barack Obama‘s policies.

Now, though, Alexander looks to be shifting toward his “consensus-building politics” mode.

Not everybody who bought into Alexander before is buying in this time, though.

Alexander’s Democratic opponent in the November general election, Gordon Ball, a Knoxville attorney, has previously allowed his name to appear on a “Tennesseans for Alexander” list, a decision that Ball now calls “a huge mistake.”

TN Forum: Congrats to Supreme Court Justices on Endorsement by Davidson Co Dems

Press release from The Tennessee Forum; July 24, 2014: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Forum President Susan Kaestner congratulated Democrat Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade on their endorsement by the Davidson County Democrat Party today. In an email to Democrat party activists and supporters, Gary D. Bynum, Chairman of the Davidson County Democrat Party, said, “Remember when Democrats don’t vote, Republicans are elected and we ALWAYS support the Democratic ticket…Vote to “RETAIN” the current Supreme Court on August 7.” A copy of the email can be viewed HERE.

“I congratulate Justices Clark, Lee and Wade on earning the support of their base – the liberal left of the Democrat Party,” Kaestner said. “It should not be surprising that Democrats would endorse the judges given that they are, in fact, Democrats. Chairman Bynum makes clear that Clark, Lee and Wade are key components of the ‘Democrat ticket’ for voters to consider this August.”

“Partisanship is nothing new for Clark, Lee and Wade,” Kaestner said. “They earned the respect of their friends in the Democrat party by being ultra-partisan activists and donors throughout their judicial career, despite claims to the contrary.”

A review of campaign finance records by the Tennessee Forum reveals a strong pattern of partisan behavior by all three Supreme Court judges up for retention this August. The political contribution histories of Judges Clark, Wade and Lee directly contradict the public mythology perpetrated by the judges and their Democrat operatives that they are “nonpartisan.”

“The judges’ political contributions put in perspective the level of deception they are peddling to the people of Tennessee,” said Kaestner. “The judges can masquerade as apolitical, but the facts are the facts. Normal Tennessee citizens go to work, raise families and go to the polls on election day. They do not consistently and generously give large amounts of money to Democrat candidates. There is a term for people who do that: Partisan Democrat.”

Records show that Clark has given a total of $5,435 to political candidates over the years. 80% of those donations have gone to Democrats, including former Democratic Senate Speaker John Wilder, former Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Joe Haynes and former state Representative Rob Briley. The candidate receiving the largest total contributions from Clark was former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Clark to the Supreme Court in 2005.

Clark’s partisan roots transcend her donation record as well. She was elected to the Tennessee Democrat Party Executive Committee, the most partisan and highest ranking political organization one can be a part of at the state level. As a member of the state Democrat Executive Committee, Clark helped set policy, elect the party’s chairman, and worked to elect Democrat candidates across the state.

Wade, the largest political contributor of the three judges, has donated over 70% of his money to Democrat candidates. Wade’s political contributions total at least $27,311 and include former Vice President Al Gore, Harold Ford, Jr., current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and the Democratic National Committee. Wade also gave at least $3,000 to former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Wade to the Supreme Court in 2006.

Publicly available campaign finance records indicate Lee is the most partisan of the three. She gave over $8,000, 92% of which went to Democrats. Recipients of Lee’s political generosity include Harold Ford, Jr., 2010 Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter, current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and ActBlue. Lee joined her two colleagues in supporting the Democrat Governor who appointed them. She gave Bredesen’s campaign over $3,000. She was later appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008 — by Phil Bredesen.

“These records are public and searchable by anyone with an internet connection. The judges don’t want voters to know their entire campaign is predicated on deception,” said Kaestner. “These judges are candidates for the highest court in the state and they are denying basic truths about their political history.”

“Ironically, their campaign is an argument for replacement. If you truly want nonpartisan judges on the Supreme Court of Tennessee your only choice is to vote ‘replace’ on Judges Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.”

The general public can search databases of state and federal political contributions free of charge at http://www.fec.gov and http://www.tn.gov/tref.

Alexander: Reid ‘Obstructionist in Chief,’ Broke Senate Rules to Help Push Obama Agenda

Press release from the Office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; December 10, 2013:

“The ‘nuclear option’ vote was not about the filibuster … The vote was about allowing the majority to do whatever it wants to do any time it wants to do it … In a country that prizes the rule of law, we now have a Senate without any rules because the Senate majority has decided, for the first time, that a majority can change the rules at any time, for any reason it wants, which makes this a body without rules.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), in a speech last night on the Senate floor, said that Senate Majority Harry Reid has become the Senate’s “obstructionist in chief.”

Alexander said Reid has imposed gag rules 191 times, “cutting off the right of American voices to be heard on the Senate floor. Seventy-seven times this majority leader has cut off amendments in a body whose whole purpose is to amend, debate, and vote. He has filed a motion to cut off debate 114 times on the same day he has introduced a bill, and he calls that a ‘filibuster.’”

On Nov. 21, Reid and 51 other Senate Democrats exercised the so-called “nuclear option,” voting to end the right to filibuster presidential nominations, except for those to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alexander said the “‘nuclear option’ vote was not about the filibuster … The vote was about allowing the majority to do whatever it wants to do any time it wants to do it,” and “I know of only one cure for this dangerous trend, and that is one word, an election – the election of six new Republican senators, so power plays such as Obamacare and the Nov. 21 rules change will be ended and the Senate will again be alive with bills, amendments, and debates, reflecting the will of the American people on the important issues of our time.”

The full text of the speech follows:

I appreciate the courtesy of the majority leader in allowing me to ask him a question. I have more to say about this whole subject. But let me go back to my point. There are 13 district judges on the calendar. On November 21, when we last met, there were 13 district judges. There is only one person in this chamber who can bring a judge from the calendar to the floor for confirmation. That is the majority leader. Why did he not bring them all up? Why didn’t he move them? Because under our rules, all he has to do is make a motion that so-and-so district judge be confirmed. If he files cloture, we have to wait one day, and then we have two hours of debate.

Never in the history of the country, according to the Congressional Research Service, has a district judge been denied his or her seat because of a failed cloture vote, because of a filibuster. I know this from personal experience, because a judge named McConnell from Rhode Island was nominated by President Obama at the recommendation of the Rhode Island senators, and there were a number on this side who said we should filibuster the judge.

I thought not. I argued to all of the Republicans that we never had done that in history and we ought not to do it, we ought not to start it. So, what has happened? I believe, with all due respect, the majority leader is manufacturing a crisis. There is no crisis with those 13 district judges. He is the one who could bring them up. He could have done it on Thursday, November 21, the day he changed the rules. Friday would be the intervening day. The maximum amount of debate the Democrats could require on each judge would be one hour, if they yield back their hour. So in 13 hours, before midnight tonight, they could all be district judges. They were sitting on the calendar waiting for the majority leader to move.

The same is true with the sub-cabinet members. But let’s just stay with the district judges for a minute. I know I am right about this because I have sat down with the Senate historian. I sat down with the Congressional Research Service. I said, has there ever been a president’s nominee for a federal district judge who has not been confirmed because of a failed cloture vote? The answer is zero – not for President Obama, not for President Bush, not for President Clinton, not for any president.

Because Senator Reid, the distinguished majority leader, believed that the district judges were moving too slowly through the Senate, we changed the rules this past year. We said that with district judges, once there is a cloture vote – and remember, no judge has ever been denied his seat because of a cloture vote. Once there is a cloture vote, there can only be two hours of debate, one for the minority and one for the majority. So, this is a manufactured crisis. That is what was done in order to do what the Democratic majority did on November 21, which is the most stunning development in the history of the Senate in terms of a rules change, and I intend to talk about that tonight. I want to go through some very specific facts – not speeches, not something made up, but facts.

I am glad that the majority leader moved four district judges but every one of the other nine might ask, “Mr. Majority Leader, why did you not move my name? Why are you leaving me out?” Because you could move it on Monday, wait a day, and on Wednesday you could confirm every single one of the judges there.

The reason was because the majority leader wanted to make it look like there was a problem here so he could do as Senator Levin said we did on November 21 – in effect, create a Senate without rules – over the objection of 48 senators the Democratic majority established a precedent that the Senate can change the rules any time it wants to for any reason it wants to. So, I want to speak a little bit tonight about how I and other senators are expected to serve in a Senate with no rules.

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day in the National Football League. There were a lot of close games. The Ravens and the Vikings scored five touchdowns in two minutes and one second. In Pittsburgh, Miami was ahead when the Steelers’ Anthony Brown raced into the end zone after a series of lateral passes. It was one of those things where it is the last play of the game and they start playing, passing to each other. It rarely works. Every now and then it does, and it appeared to in this case because Brown was the last one with the ball. He got into the end zone before time expired, but the officials ruled he had stepped out of bounds before scoring.

What if Pittsburgh had said yesterday, “Wait a minute, we are the home team. We will change the rules and say if you step out of bounds only once as you are running toward the end zone with lateral passes on the last play of the game, then you score, so Pittsburgh wins the game”?

Or what if they had said, “We are the home team. We will just add five minutes and see if we can win the game in that five minutes”? They would have been happy in Pittsburgh yesterday, but maybe not for long.

But what happens when Miami becomes the home team and Pittsburgh goes to Miami to play and Miami changes the rules in the middle of the game so Miami can win? What would happen to the game of professional football if the home team could change the rules in the middle of the game to get the result it wanted? The National Football League knows. They spend a lot of time on rules. They know if there is no integrity for the rules there is no integrity for the game, and pretty soon the fans do not watch the game because the game has no integrity.

That is why the NFL goes to such great lengths about its rules. There are officials all over the field. They are standing, you know, right in the middle of the play. There is an instant review of every call they make. When they make a call, they huddle to see if they interpreted the rule right. If a coach doesn’t like it, he has an opportunity to challenge the ruling. There is someone up in a box who looks at that and reviews it. Today, Monday morning in New York, in the National Football League office, senior retired officials get together and they review every single call and every single no-call that was made yesterday in every league game. They grade every single official based on those calls, and rarely does anyone get 100 percent. The NFL is in a constant review of the rules because if there is no integrity to the rules, they know there is no integrity to the game, and there will be no fans.

I say this because on Thursday, the last day we were here, November 21, before senators went home for Thanksgiving, the Democratic majority destroyed the rules of the Senate. With all of the Republican members opposed and three Democratic members opposed, the Senate voted 52 to 48 to invoke the so-called nuclear option, allowing a majority of senators present and voting – so not necessarily 51 – to approve presidential nominees except for Supreme Court Justices. For those positions, they eliminated the filibuster, which required 60 votes to proceed to an up-or-down majority vote.

That is what Senator Reid went through a few minutes ago. He was saying that we will move for cloture, we will have an intervening day, and then we will have a cloture vote. Before Thursday, before November 21, that took 60 votes. Although, as I said, in the case of federal district judges it had never been used to deny a seat. But now it only takes a majority of those present and voting. This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote the rules because it creates a perpetual opportunity for what Alexis de Tocqueville called, when he traveled our country in the 1830s, one of the greatest threats to our democracy, and that is the “tyranny of the majority.”

This stunning rules change by the Senate majority can best be described as Obamacare II. One of the things that Americans really didn’t like about the new health care law, Obamacare, was that it was passed in the dead of night by a purely partisan vote during a snowstorm. It showed that those who had the votes could do whatever they wanted no matter what the minority thought, and we can see the results: millions of Americans having their policies canceled. Next year, tens of millions will – those who get their insurance through employers. This is another example of that kind of power play. This time the goal was to help the administration and the Democratic majority advance its radical agenda, unchecked through the courts and the executive agencies.

As the Senator from Michigan, Senator Levin, said – quoting a former Republican senator, Senator Vandenberg – Senator Levin is a Democrat – said on that Thursday, “If a majority of the Senate can change its rules at any time, there are no rules.”

“If a majority of the Senate can change its rules at any time, there are no rules.”

Similar to the Pittsburgh game, if the home team can change its rules at any time there are no rules to the game.

Every child knows that there have to be rules to the game. So, I have this question: How am I and how are other senators supposed to serve in a Senate with no rules? How is this different from what could have happened in Pittsburgh if they changed the rules in the middle of the game? Or if the Red Sox, finding themselves behind in the ninth inning, added a few innings just to make sure they beat the Cardinals in the World Series. In the Senate, future majorities could do whatever they want, end the filibuster for legislation, removing any obstacle to the tyranny of the majority. Just as if there were no integrity of the rules of football and there would be no integrity of the game and there would be no fans, if there were no integrity to the rules of the Senate, there is no integrity for the Senate and no respect for this part of our system of government.

I think I was not overstating it when I said this is the most dangerous change to the rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them. When he did write the rules, he had this to say about why we have rules. His words are in the Senate rules book that every single one of us has and hopefully have read at least the beginning parts of. This is worth reading – by Jefferson. It is titled, “The Importance of Adhering to Rules.”

Remember the argument here is not about the filibuster; it is about how the rules were changed. “The Importance of Adhering to Rules.” I am going to read a little bit of this. According to Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the Senate rules:

“Mr. Onslow, the ablest among the Speakers of the House of Commons, used to say, “it was a maxim he had often heard, when he was a young man, from old and experienced members, that nothing tended to throw power more into the hand of administration and those who acted with the majority of the House of Commons, than a neglect of, or departure from, the rules of proceeding: that these forms, as instituted by our ancestors, operated as a check and control on the actions of the majority; and that they were in many instances a shelter, and a protection to the minority, against the attempts of power.”

This is Thomas Jefferson writing about the importance of rules when he wrote the Senate rules. Continuing:

“So far the maxim is certainly true, and is founded in good sense, that as it is always in the power of the majority, by their numbers, to stop any improper measures proposed on the part of their opponents, the only weapons by which the minority can defend themselves against similar attempts from those in power, are the forms and rules of proceeding which have been adopted as they were found necessary from time to time, and are become the law of the House; by a strict adherence to which, the weaker party can only be protected from those irregularities and abuses which these forms were intended to check, and which the wantonness of power is but too often apt to suggest to large and successful majorities.”

I would think a majority that claims to protect the rights of minorities would be interested in these words of Jefferson and especially in the following words:

“And whether these forms be in all cases the most rational or not, is really not of so great importance. It is much more material that there should be a rule to go by, than what that rule is; that there may be a uniformity of proceeding in business, not subject to the caprice of the Speaker, or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body.”

That was Thomas Jefferson on the importance of Senate rules when he wrote them at the beginning of our country.

The majority has set a precedent that destroys those rules – that destroys the integrity of the rules because a Senate in which a majority can change the rules at any time for any reason is a Senate with no rules. That is why it is not too much to say that the Democratic majority has created a perpetual opportunity for the tyranny of the majority. The majority can do anything it wants any time it wants.

In this case, what it wanted to do was stack the federal court that hears most of the challenges to its radical regulatory agenda with judges who believe in that agenda. Who knows what the next power play will be. First it was Obamacare; then Obamacare II, the change of the rules. What we do know is that this majority has set an unprecedented precedent. They have set the precedent to do whatever they want to do anytime they want to do it. They have created a Senate without rules.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about what the justification might be for such a stunning action, because there are so many words thrown around that don’t represent facts at all that I wonder about this. For example, the Democrats complain that their radical action was warranted because the Senate is broken. I agree with that. I will explain in a few moments why I think so. Their reason is that President Obama’s appointees have been unfairly denied seats by failed cloture votes or filibusters. The charge was – and you heard the majority leader a few minutes ago – things have gotten so bad that this Republican minority has treated President Obama unfairly by denying his nominees their seats by failed cloture votes or filibusters. The Democrats have gotten themselves in a room and convinced each other that this is true, but it is flat-out not true.

According to the Congressional Research Service – and I have researched this for several months and asked them this question: Has there ever been any Supreme Court nominee, by any president, who has been denied his or her seat by a filibuster? The answer is no. It is zero. (Now, there is one possible exception. Abe Fortas was nominated by President Lyndon Johnson as Chief Justice. The nomination was in trouble on both sides of the aisle, and to help his friend Abe Fortas save face, President Johnson engineered a cloture vote in 1968. I think the vote was 45 to 43. They called that a win to help Abe “save face.”) But certainly President Obama’s nominees have not been denied their seats by a failed cloture vote, and neither have any other presidents’.

Have there ever been any cabinet members of President Obama or any other president who have been denied their seats by a failed cloture vote or by a filibuster? According to the Congressional Research Service, the answer is no. The number is zero. There have been no cabinet members who have been denied their seats in the Obama administration by a failed cloture vote.

Have there ever been any federal district judges denied their seats by a failed cloture vote for President Obama or any other president? The answer is zero. Except for perhaps Fortas, there has never been a Supreme Court Justice, cabinet member, or federal district judge nomination in the history of President Obama – and never in the history of this country has a president’s nomination been denied by a filibuster. Interesting.

Then why did we go to this stunning radical move on November 21? Well, maybe it was because of sub-cabinet members. How many of those have been denied their seats by a filibuster, according to the Congressional Research Service? Two of President Obama’s, three of President George W. Bush’s, and two of President Clinton’s. That is a total of seven in the history of the Senate when a filibuster has said to a sub-cabinet member that we are going to deny them their seat because of a filibuster or a failed cloture vote. So, President Obama has been treated about exactly the same as his last two predecessors.

In all of those I just mentioned, among Cabinet members, district judges, Supreme Court Justices, and sub-cabinet members, we only found two Obama nominees who have been denied their seats by a failed cloture vote. Now, that is a fact. That is not a piece of Republican propaganda. That comes from the Congressional Research Service.

Why is there a fuss about this? Well, maybe it is because of the federal circuit judges. Well, let’s talk about that. As for appeals court judges, Republican filibusters have blocked five. Why did that happen? That happened as a result of what happened in 2003, the year I came to the Senate.

Then, Democrats got together and said, “We think President Bush’s nominees are too conservative, so, for the first time in the history of the Senate, we are going to block 10 of President Bush’s nominees basically because they are too conservative.” I knew some of those judges. I used to clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge John Minor Wisdom. I knew the respect he had for Judge Pryor. I knew Mr. Pickering, who had really been a pioneer for civil rights in the State of Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s when it was hard to do that.

The truth is that the majority of Democrats said, “We are going to block 10 of the Bush judges. It has never been done before, but we are going to do it with a cloture vote.”

Well, as you can guess, everyone on the Republican side – and the majority then – got very excited. The majority leader, Senator Frist, said, “We are going to change the rules” and do something that Senator Lott – a majority leader at one time – said was the “nuclear option.”

There was great consternation. In 2006, Senator Reid said – and he recounts this very well in his book – “to do so would be the end of the Senate.”

I made two speeches. I suggested that, well, this is a terrible thing to do. A president ought to have an up-or-down vote on his circuit judges. So, why don’t we see if we can’t get a few Republicans and a few Democrats and just take it out of the hands of the leaders and agree we will only use the filibuster on circuit judges in extraordinary circumstances, which was the result. I said at the time that I would never vote for a filibuster on a circuit judge. I adjusted my view to be the same as the Senate precedent that came out of the Gang of 14. Of the 10 Bush judges, five were not confirmed and five were confirmed. In 2003, Democratic senators for the first time in history refused to confirm five presidential nominees for the federal court of appeals by a cloture vote – by a filibuster – and the expected happened. Over time, the Republicans now have blocked five nominations. So, Republicans and Democrats are even.

When you start something, things have a way of coming back around. What the Democrats said was fair to do in 2003 and 2004, the Republicans now say is fair to do. If the Democrats think the Republican nominees are too conservative, they will block five of them. If we think President Obama’s nominees are too liberal, then we will block five of them. We put in the trash heap the tradition that we will never use the filibuster on federal courts of appeals judges.

The majority leader and others have said, “Well, that is not the only problem. The problem is that President Obama has had to wait too long to get his judges confirmed.”

Again, that is not true either. This is another case where the Democrats apparently have gotten themselves in a room and convinced themselves that something that isn’t true is true. According to the Congressional Research Service, President Obama’s second-term cabinet nominees have been confirmed at about the same pace as President Bush’s cabinet nominees and President Clinton’s cabinet nominees.

The other day, I heard the majority leader use the example of the distinguished Secretary of Defense and a former member of this body, Senator Hagel, as an example of delay. Well, let me comment on that, if I may. Senator Hagel’s nomination was reported to the Senate floor.

The day after it was reported by the Armed Services Committee, the majority leader filed cloture and called that a filibuster.

Now, many Republican senators – I watched the Senator from Arizona and the Senator from South Carolina and others say on the floor to the majority leader, “That is premature. You are cutting off debate before we have had a chance to consider the Secretary of Defense of this country. If you will allow us more time” – at that time we were going into the Presidents Day recess for a week – “we will cut off debate the day we come back and then we will have an up-or-down vote.”

But, no, the majority leader and the White House said, “Ram it through.”

They insisted on a vote, the vote was turned down, and he called that a filibuster. I call it cutting off debate – cutting off debate prematurely. Why in the world wouldn’t you allow a Secretary of Defense to be on the floor for more than one day before you cut off the debate prematurely and call it a filibuster?

The majority leader said: Well, we could be attacked.

I think he must have forgotten we had a perfectly adequate Secretary of Defense in place – Leon Panetta – until the next one was confirmed, and he was going to be confirmed because the majority had the majority of votes to do that and a cabinet member had never been denied his or her seat because of a cloture vote.

I want to keep coming back to that. A Cabinet member has never been denied confirmation because of a failed cloture vote. A Cabinet member will be confirmed after a while – after you have questions. But in that case, they filed cloture after one day.

Now, in my case, 20 years ago, when President Bush nominated me as the education secretary, there was a Democratic Senate. I was announced in December, nominated in January, and it was March before some of the Democratic senators saw fit to give me a vote, and I was confirmed by unanimous consent. During that time I tried to get ready for our education program. It gave me some time to work. When President Reagan nominated Ed Meese to be the attorney general, it took a year before the Senate confirmed Ed Meese, but he was confirmed. There have been some cabinet members who have withdrawn their names because they have become embarrassed or for some other reason.

If the question is whether a failed cloture vote has ever been used to deny a cabinet member his or her seat, the answer is no. In the case of Secretary Hagel, I would think one day is not quite long enough to file a motion to cut off debate and claim it is a filibuster.

What about judges? Has the Senate been slow on judges?

This year the Senate has confirmed 36 of the president’s second-term nominees to circuit and district courts, compared with 14 for President Bush as of November 21 in his second term in 2005. These things are never exact because there are vacancies for a variety of reasons. That is a pretty big difference. It is very hard to argue that it is unfair. But the majority leader did argue successfully that the minority was holding up district judges in order to negotiate for other points. He did that the second time a bipartisan group of us sat down to talk about how to change the Senate rules so we could move along better.

So what the Senate agreed to do earlier this year was to change the rules to make it easier to confirm district judges.

Here is the procedure: Remember, first they have to be on the calendar. How do they get on the calendar? A committee majority puts them on the calendar. What party has the majority in the Judiciary Committee? The Judiciary Committee majority is Democratic. That puts them on the calendar. So Democrats put them on the calendar. Only the majority leader can take them off the calendar, and when he does that, he has no motion to proceed; he just takes them right off just like he did tonight. If he wants to, he can just bring them up and ask unanimous consent that they be approved, which they often are.

I am told by the Republican leader’s office that when the majority leader rammed the rules change through on November 21, there were about 40 or so noncontroversial – so-called – nominees who were about to be confirmed, including many district judges. But tonight the majority leader has selected four of the 13 district judges who are on the calendar and made a big show out of the fact that we are going to take an intervening day tomorrow and then we are going to vote on them, I guess, beginning on Wednesday. Under the rules change he asked for, the debate on each one of those can only be two hours, and it is divided evenly, which means the Democrats have an hour and the Republicans have an hour. If the Democrats want to speed things up, they can give their hour back. On a noncontroversial judge, Republicans normally wouldn’t say anything, except a word or two of praise. But let’s say the Republicans are upset by the rules changes and we are going to say we will take that whole hour. The Democrats could say two or three minutes of praise for the district judge and we could confirm those four in four hours. That is half a day’s work.

The question I asked the majority leader was, “What about the other nine? What about the other nine district judges who are sitting on this calendar, put there by the Democratic majority of the Judiciary Committee, and only one person in the Senate can bring them up for a vote, and he didn’t bring them up?” Why doesn’t he bring them up? He could bring them up today. Tomorrow would be the intervening day and we could vote on Wednesday and vote on them all. He could have brought every single district judge up Thursday before recess, when he turned the Senate into a place that has no rules; Friday would have been the intervening day, and we could have been voting all day today, and by the time we went home for supper, every district judge would be confirmed because of the earlier rules change that limited post-cloture debate on district judges to 2 hours. The only reason I can see to go through all of this is to manufacture a crisis to make the American people think that somehow the minority is abusing its privileges.

I read the Executive Calendar on November 21 very carefully. Remember, this is the document that is on every senator’s desk. A nominee has to be on here in order to be confirmed. If a person is an executive nominee, the only person who can bring it up is the majority leader. It is the same with legislation. So legislative matters require a motion of consent. There were only 16 on the calendar who had been there three weeks and only eight more who had been there more than nine weeks, and two of the eight were being held up by Democratic senators. That is hardly a crisis.

Finally, let me address the claim the majority leader didn’t take seriously; that is, Republicans have unfairly blocked the president from filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Remember, I pointed out the Democrats started this by saying that if President Bush nominates judges that are too conservative, we will block them, so the Republicans now have blocked an equal number of President Obama’s judges. But that is not the primary reason for blocking them. The primary reason is stated in a letter written on July 27, 2006, to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a Republican, Senator Specter, from all of the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee. President Bush had nominated someone for this same court, the District of Columbia Federal Circuit Court, and this is what the Democratic Senators said in 2006:

“We believe that Mr. Keisler should under no circumstances be considered – much less confirmed – by this Committee before we first address the very need for that judgeship, receive and review necessary information about the nominee, and deal with the genuine judicial emergencies identified by the Judicial Conference.”

In other words, what the Democrats were saying – and it included a number of the most distinguished members of this body – the chairman, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, Senator Feingold, Senator Feinstein, Senator Kohl, Senator Kennedy, Senator Durbin, Senator Biden – they were saying that this court, the D.C. court, is an important court, but it doesn’t need any more judges. Before we add any more judges to a court that is underworked, we ought to consider transferring those judgeships to courts that are overworked.

That argument had been made since at least 2001 by Senator Grassley from Iowa, and finally, with some bipartisan cooperation in 2007, he achieved some success. With President Bush’s agreement, the Republican president, he agreed with the Democratic senators that the D.C. Circuit should under no circumstances – those are their words in their letter – have more judges. They reduced by one the number of judges, and they transferred a judge to the Ninth Circuit, which was overworked.

So what Republicans have said about the three judges whom the president has nominated to the D.C. Circuit is, before we consider any of them, consider Senator Grassley’s bill. Do in 2013 what you said we should do in 2006 and 2007 and which we did in a bipartisan way.

So how can this be dismissed when Republicans are asking to do in 2013 exactly what the Democrats successfully insisted on in 2006, which is to transfer judges from the courts where they are not needed to the courts where they are needed. In fact, the D.C. Circuit has a lower caseload by comparison today than it did in 2007 when, by a bipartisan agreement, it was considered underworked. The Democrats didn’t think it was unfair then to insist that we not appoint more judges to a court that was underworked. It must be they are trying to manufacture a crisis now.

So if there is no good reason to change the rules in such a dramatic way as the majority did on November 21, why would the majority leader insist on cramming through in a power play a rules change that in 2006 he said would be the end of the Senate?

Because the “nuclear option” vote was not about the filibuster. All of that is pretext. The vote was about allowing the majority to do whatever it wants to do any time it wants to do it.

One of the things the American people detest about Obamacare, as I said earlier, is that it was crammed through in the middle of the night in a partisan power play and we can see the results. Unlike the civil rights bill which had broad bipartisan support – I can remember Senator Dirksen and President Johnson working together on it when it required 67 votes in the Senate, and because it achieved that consensus, Senator Russell, the great opponent of the bill, went home to Georgia and said: It is the law of the land and we should now support it.

When we cram a big social change – or any big change – through the Congress, we are going to get the kind of result we get with Obamacare today: millions of people losing their policies, tens of millions will next year, great concern, Web site not working. That is what we get when we cram things through in a partisan way, and the Democrats have done it again.

So if the filibuster was not the problem, then why is the Senate not functioning better? Why are we so low in public opinion polls? Frankly, it is because of the Senate leadership. I have had the privilege over the years of watching the Senate. I came here for the first time in 1967 as an aide to Senator Howard Baker, the future majority leader of the Senate. I watched Senator Mansfield and Senator Dirksen. I watched Senator Byrd and Senator Baker. I watched Senator Daschle, Senator Lott, Senator Frist. I wasn’t in the Senate all of that time – I have only been here since 2003 – but I have seen it over that time up close. All of them could operate this body very well under the rules we had until Thursday of two weeks ago, until November 21.

I was at the Rules Committee meeting when Senator Byrd, former majority leader and acknowledged as the great historian of the Senate, came. He could barely speak, but he had one last message for the Senate and it was: Don’t change the filibuster. He called it the necessary fence against the excesses of the executive and the popular will. That was what Senator Byrd said. He also said that under the rules we had until November 21, a majority leader could operate the Senate if he wanted to.

The current majority leader seems to be unable to do that, and we saw an example of it here tonight. He brings up four district judges, while there are 13 on the calendar. He could have brought them up on November 21 and we could have been voting on all of them today. He could bring them all up today and we could vote on all of them Wednesday, but he is parceling them out as if there were a crisis somewhere. Why is he doing that? I don’t see why he is doing that. It is not the way to make the Senate function. It is not what Senator Byrd would do. It is not what Senator Baker would do. I saw them come in and open the Senate to amendments, put a bill on the floor, ask for amendments. Here came 300 amendments. Ask for unanimous consent to cut off amendments. They got unanimous consent because nobody could think of any other amendments, and then Senator Byrd would say – and Senator Baker did as well – all right, let’s start voting, and vote, vote, vote, vote. Then we could get to about Wednesday or Thursday and senators would think, well, maybe my amendment is not so important, and by Friday, when it was clear the majority leader was going to finish the bill that week, they would drop the amendments, and we got it done.

So the Senate wasn’t a perfect place – things were still bumpy. There was Senator Metzenbaum sitting in the front row objecting. There was Senator Williams before him, Senator Allen before him, exercising their rights, but the majority leaders were able to work with that. The Senate worked on Mondays and Fridays, it worked at night, and the threat of that usually caused people who were trying to not show a proper amount of restraint and use of their privileges to back down.

Instead, what the current majority leader does – and we heard him tonight – is complain about obstructionism when there isn’t any, certainly not on nominations. I am not going to say senators on both sides of the aisle haven’t abused their privileges and slowed down the Senate. But he complains about obstructionism when, in fact, he has become the obstructionist in chief by making it more difficult for those of us who are elected from our states to represent the people who have a right to be heard.

“Seventy-seven times this majority leader has cut off amendments in a body whose whole purpose is to amend, debate, and vote. I call it a ‘gag rule,’ with the majority cutting off the right of American voices to be heard on the Senate floor. He has filed a motion to cut off debate 114 times on the same day he has introduced a bill, and he calls that a ‘filibuster.’ I call that a gag rule. He has bypassed Senate committees in an unprecedented way: 76 times in the last seven years.”

He set himself up as the king of the Senate.

“May I offer an amendment on Iran?” a senator might ask.

No.

“May I offer an amendment on Egypt?” No.

“How about an amendment on Obamacare?” No.

“What about a bill on the National Labor Relations Board?” No.

“Can we work on appropriations bills?” No.

Only one person is deciding what happens here, when, in fact, the history of the Senate has been a place of virtually unlimited debate on virtually any amendment. That has been the history of the Senate. It is different than the House of Representatives. It has been different than any other body in the world. It operates by unanimous consent, and it requires restraint which hasn’t always been exercised, but majority leaders who have been effective have found their way to deal with that.

I have spent the last three years doing my best to help make this place function. I cannot say where this rules change on November 21 will lead, but it is heading in a dangerous direction – a direction that is dangerous for the Senate and dangerous for our country.

This is a country that prizes the rule of law. Other countries around the world that do not have it wish they did, they wish they had a country with the rule of law.

So in a country that prizes the rule of law, we now have a Senate without any rules because the Senate majority has decided, for the first time, that a majority can change the rules at any time, for any reason it wants, which makes this a body without rules.

In a country that yearns for solutions on Iran, on health care, on our debt crisis, we have a king of the Senate saying, “No amendments, no debate, I will make all the decisions.”

I know of only one cure for this dangerous trend, and that is one word, an election – the election of six new Republican senators, so power plays such as Obamacare and the November 21 rules change will be ended and the Senate will again be alive with bills, amendments, and debates, reflecting the will of the American people on the important issues of our time.

Finney Calls for Review of Job Tax Credits Program

Press release from the Office of State Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson; November 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Troubled by a recent audit that found state government can’t say whether companies are creating jobs in exchange for tax credits they’ve received, state Sen. Lowe Finney requested a review of state contracts to be presented during the 2014 legislative session.

“I brought ‘claw back’ legislation to protect taxpayers if promises of new jobs for tax credits are broken,” state Sen. Lowe Finney said. “According to this audit, the administration wouldn’t know when to ‘claw back’ taxpayers’ money.”

Sen. Finney sponsored SB 0605 during the last legislative session, which directs the Department of Economic and Community Development to include “claw back” provisions in all contracts to ensure the state has the authority to take back any incentives awarded to companies that don’t create jobs.

A recent audit by the comptroller’s office found that the Department of Revenue “could not provide evidence that companies audited complied with state law” for tax credits awarded to the 27 companies audited between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012.

In a letter to Department of Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts, Sen. Finney requested a thorough review of those contracts and the jobs created to be presented to the Senate Finance Committee during the 2014 legislative session.

Knoxville-Area Democrat Files for U.S. Senate Race

Press release from the Campaign for Terry Adams for U.S. Senate; October 28, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Terry Adams, a Navy veteran, entrepreneur and attorney, announced today that he has filed to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

“After getting strong encouragement from a wide range of people around Tennessee, I have decided to enter this race,” Adams said. “We think the time is right for someone with a unique profile to run and win this seat and to serve Tennessee.”

Adams continued, “Washington is broken and we are not going to fix it by sending back the same people responsible for breaking it in the first place.”

Adams noted that if we had more small business owners and military veterans in Washington that common sense might prevail over out-of-control gridlock and brinksmanship.

“We have fewer veterans serving than in recent memory and I think that’s one of the reasons Washington is so painfully partisan and amazingly ineffective.”

With Republicans Lamar Alexander and Joe Carr battling for the nomination, Adams also noted that the Tea Party candidate had defeated an establishment Republican in at least eight recent Republican primaries for U.S. Senate: in Utah (Senator Lee), Colorado, Delaware, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky (Senator Paul), Nevada, and Texas (Senator Cruz). Five out of the eight candidates then lost general elections.

Adams has roots in East, West and Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Phillis have two businesses in the Knoxville area where they live. Adams was raised in Nashville and went to college at UT Knoxville and the University of Memphis.

Nashville attorney, former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman, and former U.S. Senate Democratic Party nominee, Bob Tuke is the Treasurer of Adams’ campaign.

A formal campaign kickoff and statewide tour is being scheduled.

Click here to read Adams’ short biography online.