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Fleischmann, Black, Blackburn Opposed to DHS Funding Bill that Allows Obama Amnesty

Press release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. 03; March 3, 2015:

WASHINGTON− This afternoon, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann voted against H.R. 240, Senate-passed legislation that does not stop President Obama’s executive amnesty. After the vote, Rep. Fleischmann released the following statement.

“As a member of Congress, I swore to support and defend the Constitution, and my vote today did just that. The President’s attempt to bypass the U.S. immigration system through executive action is unconstitutional, and I could not support legislation that did nothing to stop his overreach.”

“In January, the House passed a bill to fund DHS while defunding the President’s illegal executive action. It’s unfortunate Senate Democrats filibustered that bill and refused to go to conference, pushing DHS to the brink of shutdown. I am hopeful that moving forward our chambers will be able to work together and stop governing from conflict to conflict.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn 06: March 3, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the below statement on her vote against the Senate-passed “clean” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) full-year funding bill that failed to address President Obama’s immigration overreach. Earlier today, Rep. Black also voted for a motion by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to table consideration of the Senate’s version of this legislation. The motion was not adopted.

“I told my constituents that I would stand against any long-term DHS funding measure that allowed President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty to go unchecked – and I meant it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “We in Congress swore an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States’ and the President’s unilateral actions are an affront to this document’s clearly established separation of powers. Tennesseans know that I vote my convictions, even when that means standing opposite party leadership in Washington. This ‘clean’ appropriations bill does nothing to combat the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty and, as such, it did not earn my support.”

Congressman Black added, “The House voted back in January to fully fund DHS while addressing the President’s immigration overreach. Senate Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for spending a month filibustering our original funding bill and refusing to go to a conference committee to resolve our differences through regular order. It’s time to stop these legislative hijinks that prevent Congress from doing the work of our constituents. A 60-vote threshold for invoking cloture is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. If Senate Democrats won’t allow for an open, honest debate on House-passed legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should enact a change in the Senate rules to help put an end to this obstructionism and political gamesmanship once and for all.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; March 3, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement on her vote in opposition to funding President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty.

“A majority of the American public wants the President’s lawless and unconstitutional amnesty program stopped.The House acted appropriately on January 14th when we passed a bill to fund the DHS while also blocking amnesty policies that make our nation less safe.

“It is outrageous that Senate Democrats continue to put partisanship ahead of people by ignoring the law and taking actions to protect the President’s executive amnesty. It is noteworthy that two federal judges, one in Texas and one in Pennsylvania have each found the amnesty to be unconstitutional. Instead of working with House and Senate Republicans to solve this problem, the Senate Democrats have spent the last several weeks preaching to conservatives about the importance of protecting the country while turning a blind eye to the threat visited on this country every day by the President’s open borders policy. The duplicity of their actions is shameful. Any country that cannot protect their borders can not defend against threats, terrorists such as ISIS, and sleeper cells.”

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Press Releases

TN Congressional Delegation Statements on Vote to Defund Obama Executive Action on Immigration

Press release from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. 01; January 14, 2015:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement after voting to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the rest of the fiscal year. The bill specifically prohibits any funding from being used to carry out President Obama’s November 20 executive actions on immigration reform:

“I was proud to support this important bill which funds DHS operations for the rest of the fiscal year and blocks funding to implement the president’s executive amnesty. I hope the Senate moves swiftly to get legislation to the president’s desk.

“I am completely opposed to the president’s irresponsible and unconstitutional approach to immigration reform. It is extremely troubling and infuriating that we have a president who believes he can change laws without congressional approval, and it’s even more infuriating that the president himself is on record over a period of six years stating that he doesn’t have the authority to do what he is doing, at one point declaring, “I’m not a king.” We can’t accomplish anything meaningful if the president continues to try to ignore our laws and implement policies that haven’t been authorized by Congress. It’s up to the president. He can walk back his irresponsible governing tactics and work with Congress, or he can expect strong pushback from both chambers until the end of his presidency.”

Background:

This bill funds the Department of Homeland Security through September 30, 2015.

The legislation:

  • Prohibits funding to implement the President’s executive memos on immigration reform from November 20, 2014;
  • Ensures no illegal immigrant receives any federal benefit;
  • Stops the Administration from considering new, renewal or previously denied Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications, which is the president’s previously-announced policy allowing unaccompanied minors to stay in the country.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. 03; January 14, 2015:

WASHINGTON− This morning, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 240, theDepartment of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement after the vote.

“Today, the House put an end to President Obama’s unconstitutional actions by passing legislation to completely defund the President’s executive amnesty. The President has declared twenty-two times that he does not have the authority to bypass the legal immigration system and grant executive amnesty; yet, he did just that. When I entered Congress, I made an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and therefore, it is my duty to stop the President’s unlawful actions. This legislation further prioritizes our national security by strengthening border security, increasing government transparency, and enhancing immigration enforcement. We must protect our nation and end this executive overreach.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Re-Tenn. 04; January 14, 2015:

Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed HR 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which will fund DHS for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015, while blocking President Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty:

“I was proud to join like-minded conservatives in the House in passing legislation to effectively stop President Obama’s dangerous and unlawful executive amnesty. For too long, the president has ignored the Constitution and violated our separation of powers. And he knows it. In fact, the president said on 22 separate occasions that the Constitution does not give him the authority to take unilateral action on immigration. Yet that is precisely what he did. Today, the House reasserts its power of the purse by cutting off funds for President Obama’s unconstitutional actions.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; January 14, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) spoke on the House floor to praise the House passage of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The legislation fully funds the Department of Homeland Security through the remainder of the fiscal year while ensuring that no funding is made available for President Obama’s executive amnesty. The bill additionally includes provisions of Rep. Black’s Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act, legislation she previously passed through the House Judiciary Committee and reintroduced this year to defund the position of “public advocate” or any similar position at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Below is a transcript of her remarks, or for a video click here.

Mister Speaker, last year I promised my constituents that in the new year we would bring the fight on illegal immigration and act to restore the separation of powers that was upended by President Obama’s lawless overreach – and I meant it.

That is why I proudly voted for the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act and the attached amendments.

This bill is simple – it fully funds DHS while ensuring that no dollars are made available for the President’s executive amnesty.

I’m especially pleased that this measure contained key provisions of my bill- the Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act – which will defund the Obama Administration’s “public advocate” to lobby on behalf of illegal immigrants.

Mister Speaker, we still have three co-equal branches of government. When the President oversteps his bounds, we are compelled to respond.

I yield back my time.

Background on President’s Executive Amnesty:
On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced a series of executive actions that would grant temporary legal status and work permits to some four million unlawful immigrants. TheDepartment of Homeland Security Appropriations Act as amended prevents any funds – whether they are appropriated funds or user fees collected by the agency – to be used to carry-out these executive actions. The legislation additionally freezes funding for the President’s Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which uses prosecutorial discretion to grant legal status to select undocumented immigrants.

Background on ICE Public Advocate:
On February 7, 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the appointment of a public advocate to handle complaints and questions about the administration’s immigration enforcement policies.  This position serves as a point of contact for illegal and criminal immigrants in deportation proceedings as well as illegal alien advocacy and community groups. On June 7, 2012 the House of Representatives passed an amendment authored by Rep. Black to withhold funding for this position. That language was subsequently inserted into the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 which was signed into law by President Obama in March 2013. (see Sec. 567 here)

Following the enactment of this measure, the Obama Administration rebranded the public advocate position as “Community Outreach,” allowing employees in this department to continue their activities as before. This prompted Rep. Black to introduce the Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act which would defund both positions at ICE or any other position “the functions of which are substantially the same.” This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee in the 113th Congress and was re-introduced as H.R. 276 this year. Provisions of this bill are included in Section 551 of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act which passed the House today. This section reads, “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to provide funding for the position of Public Advocate, or a successor position, within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Press release from U. S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; January 14, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today continued her fight to stop President Obama’s lawless executive amnesty with House passage of her amendment to freeze the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Blackburn’s amendment was approved 218-209 as part of H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

Blackburn’s amendment prohibits any Federal funding, fees, or resources from being used to consider or adjudicate any new, renewal, or previously denied application for any alien requesting consideration for deferred action.

“The American people have overwhelmingly rejected executive amnesty and spoke loud and clear last November when they sent Republicans to Congress to stop President Obama’s lawless actions, Blackburn said. “President Obama has circumvented Congress and unilaterally re-written immigration law from the oval office. I applaud the House for taking action today by approving my amendment to freeze the DACA program, which was unlawfully created by Executive Memo on June 15, 2012.

“Last year, I had the opportunity to visit an unaccompanied alien children (UAC) facility at Fort Sill and also traveled to the southern border where I was briefed by U.S. Border Patrol agents. These visits confirmed what we have known all along — DACA is the magnet drawing Central American children here. UAC’s believe they will receive amnesty, as those before them have.”

The Office of Refugee Resettlement released 53, 518 UACs to sponsors within the U.S. in FY2014.As result, there is a strong correlation between the President’s amnesty and the surge of UACs coming to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have also advised that at least 40% of UACs are abused on their journey here.

“President Obama is turning every state into a border state and every town into a border town, said Blackburn. “Unfortunately, his lawless amnesty has taken Democrats from the party of ‘YES WE CAN’ to the party of BECAUSE WE CAN.”

VIDEO: Blackburn Leads Fight to Stop Obama’s Lawless Amnesty

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Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Slatery Joins Challenge to Obama Immigration Executive Order

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, appointed to the position in September, took a step this week that is sure to win him popularity points with the Republican supermajority-controlled General Assembly.

Slatery announced Monday that the Volunteer State would be joining with 24 other states to sue President Obama over his recent executive order on immigration. “However frustrating and painstakingly long the federal legislative process may be, making law is the prerogative of Congress, not the executive branch,” Slatery said in a press release. He added that while Congress could “resolve” all of the issues raised by the executive directive by “timely enacting legislation,” the state shouldn’t “sit on the sidelines of this case.”

While the executive action was about immigration, Slatery said the lawsuit is “more about the rule of law and the limitations that prevent the executive branch from taking over a role constitutionally reserved for Congress.”

The executive order conflicts with existing federal law and replaces “presecutorial discretion” with a policy of “unilateral nonenforcement,” he said.

“Asking a court to review this issue is the prudent choice, especially when state resources will be taxed under the directives to provide benefits like unemployment compensation and health care,” Slatery’ statement said.

The executive order would affect about 4 million undocumented immigrants by halting the deportation of undocumented parents of citizens or permanent residents who have been here more than five years, as well as allowing immigrants over the age of 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children to qualify for deportation deferrals. Additionally, the action beefs up border security, allows for more visas for foreign investors and STEM degree holders and changes federal immigrant detention procedures.

In November, following the president’s announcement, state Rep. Andy Holt and state Sen. Mae Beavers filed a joint resolution to call on Gov. Bill Haslam to sue the president over his immigration action. However, at the time Slatery was hesitant to commit to joining other states in seeking legal action against the president, but said he would consider it.

Tennessee Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey praised the decision to challenge “the president’s unconstitutional action on immigration” made by Slatery, who was Haslam’s chief legal counsel prior to his appointment by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“Barack Obama tossed aside not just  public opinion but key tenets of our constitutional democracy when he bypassed Congress to grant illegal immigrants defacto amnesty,” Ramsey said, and added he was “proud” Tennessee was joining the lawsuit.

Likewise, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick agreed Slatery was correct in his decision to join the lawsuit on “the constitutional question of whether the president should have acted without congressional authority.”

When Obama visited Music City earlier this month to promote the new policy, he explained that he picked the Tennessee capital in part because the city has “one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the country.”

Speaking at the Casa Azafrán community center in Nashville, the president said the action he took was “a middle-ground approach” that “will make our immigration system smarter and fairer.” According to Obama, his action “isn’t amnesty or legalization or even a path to citizenship,” and only applies to a specific group of undocumented immigrants.

“What we are saying is that until Congress fixes this problem legislatively — and you have deep ties to this country and you are willing to get right by the law, and do what you have to do, then you shouldn’t have to worry about being deported or separated from your kids,” Obama said. He invited Congress to be involved in the process, as long as they “pass a bill that addresses the various components of immigration reform in a common-sense way.”

The GOP members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation have released statements sharply critical of both the president’s visit to Nashville earlier this month and his executive action, while the state’s federal Democratic representatives were more supportive.

One criticism many Republicans had for Slatery’s predecessor, Robert Cooper — legal counsel to former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen prior to his appointment in 2006, was that he had declined to join a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government over the legality of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, one reason members of the GOP wanted to see the three Democratically-appointed state Supreme Court justices unseated this August was to hold them accountable for Cooper’s decision not to join the Obamacare lawsuit.

However, while McCormick acknowledged to TNReport that Slatery likely had more conservative inclinations than his predecessor, he took his decision to join the lawsuit as “more of a constitutional question” than a sign of a difference in politics.

While the ACA actually passed Congress, McCormick said the president’s directive was different in that it “was just an executive action taken right after election day without the consent of the the people or the elected representatives of the people.”

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Business and Economy NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Alexander Defends Immigration Stance

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been criticized this campaign season for voting in favor of a bill referred to by conservatives as “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

But the two-term incumbent has defended his vote in favor of the legislation, and said that he’d in fact “voted to end amnesty” for undocumented workers.

Last summer, GOP primary candidate Joe Carr issued a press release that took Sen. Alexander to task on the issue. The Carr press release noted that all seven Republican members of the state’s U.S. House delegation have released statements in opposition to the so-called “amnesty” bill, which was “was written by Sen. Chuck Schumer, endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and backed by La Raza and the Chamber of Commerce.”

Alexander’s position on S. 744 was named by Carr as one of the chief reasons he didn’t feel comfortable giving his former primary opponent an endorsement in the November general election.

Alexander has also sparred over the issue with his Democratic opponent, Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball.

In mid-September, Ball, promoting himself as a moderate Democrat and seeking the support of Alexander’s critics from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, accused the Maryville Republican of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The topic came up again when the two candidates met in their only joint appearance of the election season, at the Oct. 16 Tennessee Farm Bureau Candidates Forum. The Senator defended the legislation he voted for, which he said was initially recommended to him by the TN Farm Bureau.

Alexander also pointed out that while the legislation he supported included penalties for those here illegally and didn’t contain a pathway to citizenship, the policy that Ball voices support for on his campaign website has no penalties for immigrants coming into the country without federal government permission and includes such a pathway.

According to Ball’s website, he supports “common sense immigration reform” that would uphold border security and existing labor laws, as well as giving undocumented immigrants a “path to citizenship” that would “require them to pay taxes and be registered.”

Alexander said at the candidates’ forum earlier this month, “I voted to end amnesty,” which he accused Ball of supporting.

“The definition of amnesty is a path to citizenship, with no penalty,” Alexander said.

Ball later questioned Alexander’s credibility on any immigration issues, noting in an email to TNReport that the incumbent senator skipped a recent vote on a border funding.

“I’ve never gotten to vote for any legislation and he’s had 12 years. He didn’t even show up,” Ball said in an e-mail.

In late July, Senate Republicans, led by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, voted to kill the border funding bill, which they said would not prevent Pres. Barack Obama from granting temporary amnesty and work permits for illegal immigrants. Although Alexander was not present for the vote, the bill was successfully defeated when Senate Democrats couldn’t muster enough votes waive a point of order raised by Sessions.

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Carr or Lamar? Mindblowing Upset or Run-of-the-Mill Blowout?

Just hours before election day the GOP primary contest between incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tea-Party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr is still a tough call. Both candidates claim the winds of momentum are blowing in their favor, and there’s fair reason to conclude at this late hour that anything can still happen.

Although a poll released last week by the Alexander campaign showed the longtime politician besting his closest opponent by more than two-to-one, Carr contended at a “Beat Lamar” rally in East Ridge over the weekend that the race is “very, very, very close.”

According to Carr, he’s recently been contacted by four members of the Tennessee General Assembly working on his behalf, who have all told him that from what they’ve seen, he’s winning, and that “two out of three voters” are in his corner.

Carr, a three-term Republican state representative from Lascassas, is challenging the political powerhouse of Alexander, a two-term U.S. Senator, former Tennessee governor, former U.S. Department of Education secretary and two-time candidate for president.

Both campaigns have touted their recent endorsements as evidence of their conservative credentials, as well as their penchant for getting things done.

Carr has recently picked up the endorsements from national Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin. Conservative commentator and radio host Laura Ingraham and has long had the support of the Beat Lamar PAC.

Alexander’s endorsements run deep. He was backed recently by two former chairmen of the American Conservative Union — Al Cardenas and David Keene. Keene is also a former president of the National Rifle Association.  Additionally, Alexander has been supported by many Republican leaders in the state, such as Gov. Bill Haslam and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

In his criticism of Alexander, Carr has done his best to tie the incumbent to the policies of the Obama administration, such as Obamacare and immigration reform.

Much of Carr’s attack on his opponent’s Conservative credentials focused on Alexander’s support of what all seven Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation called “amnesty.”

Alexander has defended his vote for the legislation, arguing that voting against the bill was really a vote for amnesty.

Meanwhile, although campaigning for a third term, Alexander has paid little attention to Carr, other than one mailer sent out in Middle Tennessee — Carr’s own turf — criticizing the state-level politician over a vote for Common Core in relation to the state applying for “Race to the Top” funds.

Carr has said that he was not proud of having made that vote, and in a interview with The Murfreesboro Post last year characterized it as “a choice between a really bad vote and a really bad vote.”

And, although Alexander has been a recent vocal critic of the Obama Administration’s handling of the immigration crisis, according to The Washington Post, Alexander said that he hasn’t heard much talk about immigration from his constituency.

“We have a chance to have a Republican majority in the United State Senate. I’d like to be a part of that majority, send a message to President Obama, fix the debt, fix our borders, return education decisions back to the states and replace Obamacare,” Alexander said to reporters Wednesday, at a campaign event in Chattanooga with Haslam and Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

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Carr Picks Up Eagle Forum PAC Endorsement

Press release from the Campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; July 28, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN – Eagle Forum PAC, a conservative public policy organization founded by pro-family leader Phyllis Schlafly, has endorsed Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr for the United States Senate.

“Joe Carr will stand up for families in the U.S. Senate,” said Schlafly. “He is a strong voice for limited government and traditional values. When President Obama and his allies in the Senate attack our constitutional liberties, Joe will always defend them. Joe spoke out against the amnesty that Democrats and establishment Republicans wanted to give to millions of illegal immigrants, and the crisis on our southern border has proved him right. He recognizes the damage that illegal immigration inflicts on Tennessee’s working families. He will fight for a conservative solution that makes border security a priority and restores the rule of law.”

“Phyllis Schlafly has had a long and storied record of conservative activism that has played a significant role in shaping the voices that lead today’s conservative movement,” Carr said. “I am proud and humbled to have the support of a someone so well-respected throughout the conservative movement stand with me in the fight to grow the voice of conservatives in Washington.”

“Every day, the President and liberals in the Senate are working to undermine our most fundamental liberties,” added Schlafly. “Joe understands that our rights don’t belong to the government. He has been a tireless advocate for the unborn, traditional marriage, and the Second Amendment, and he will be the same in the U.S. Senate. President Obama has drawn a line in that sand,” concluded Schlafly, “and he will not back away unless we have strong conservative leaders like Joe Carr standing up and fighting back. Now more than ever, we need to rally behind true conservatives like Joe Carr.”

Eagle Forum PAC supports candidates who are committed to a conservative philosophy of limited government, national sovereignty and traditional values.