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Press Releases

Alexander, Black Release Statements on 5-Year Anniversary of Obamacare

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; March 23, 2015:

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, today released the following statement on the 5th anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law:

“Five years ago this week, President Obama signed into law a piece of legislation Republicans said would be an historic mistake. Since this law passed, we have seen health care costs increase for the American people, many have lost their health care plans and their choice of doctors, and freedom and flexibility in health care choices have been severely limited. Republicans have been and are still ready to head step by step in a different direction – one that emphasizes more freedom, more choices, and lower costs.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; March 23, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a nurse for more than forty years and member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, released the following statement on the fifth anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law:

“Five years after Obamacare was signed into law, the broken promises are many and the hurt is real. Just ask the 16,000 Tennesseans who lost their  affordable health insurance plans through CoverTN despite the President’s pledge that ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep it’ or the 31 million Americans expected to remain uninsured even after this law is fully implemented. Obamacare is such a disaster that the Obama Administration itself has allowed more than 40 changes to the law so far and many of the politicians responsible for this train wreck – from Kathleen Sebelius to Marilyn Tavenner – are now out of a job. As a nurse for more than 40 years, I understand the need for health care reform, but this top-down rewrite of one-sixth of our economy was never the way to do it. On this unhappy anniversary, the results are in: Obamacare was a mistake that harms the very people it pretends to help. Today, our case for repealing and replacing this law couldn’t be stronger,” said Congressman Diane Black.

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Press Releases

Black Condemns Persecution of Religious Minorities in Middle East, Calls on Obama to Act

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; March 4, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) announced the introduction of H. Res. 139, a resolution strongly condemning the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and reaffirming the United States’ commitment to providing protection and relief for those who are targeted because of their faith. Congressman Black released the following statement:

“While President Obama quibbles about the most politically correct way to describe our enemies and uses the National Prayer Breakfast to criticize Christianity, religious minorities continue to face extreme persecution in the Middle East and far corners of the world. From the kidnapping of Christian schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram, to the unjust imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran, to the savage beheading of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS, there is an urgent need for both Congress and this Administration to speak out and engage in this fight to protect religious freedom abroad,” said Congressman Diane Black.

“We must send a message to those who are attacked for their faith that we stand with them and that we will not remain idle in the face of this injustice,” added Congressman Black. “A House resolution alone doesn’t solve this crisis, but we need to start the conversation now and plant a stake in the ground declaring the will of Congress on this critical issue. We need sanctions against nations like Iran that allow this persecution to continue. We need a robust plan to eradicate ISIS and, as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bold speech to Congress reminded us yesterday, we need continued support for our allies like Israel that face grave  dangers as they seek to live in peace in this unstable part of the world. I am hopeful that this resolution will spur us on towards taking these important next steps.”

Background:

Congressman Black’s resolution will:

  • Condemn violence against religious minorities in the Middle East and any actions that limit the free expression and practice of faith by these minorities;
  • Reaffirm the commitment of the United States to promoting religious freedom and tolerance around the world;
  • Call on the governments of the Middle East to uphold the internationally recognized human right to freedom from religious persecution and to end all forms of violence and discrimination against religious minorities;
  • Urge the Obama administration to appoint a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Middle East, as Congress called for in 2014 with the passage of the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act.
  • Congressman Black’s resolution is supported by Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and Coptic Solidarity.
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Press Releases

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

Roe, Black, Blackburn Release Statements on DHS Funding Votes

Press release from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. 01; February 27, 2015:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement after voting in support of a House motion to go to conference with the Senate on the House and Senate passed funding bills for the Department of Homeland Security. Roe voted against a three-week continuing resolution.

“The House acted six weeks ago to continue funding the Department of Homeland Security. Instead of allowing a vote on the House-passed bill or passing a bill of their own in a timely fashion, Senate Democrats blocked the Senate from doing anything – running out the clock and causing more uncertainty for the American people.

“As I’ve said before, my position isn’t changing and I’m not backing down. I’ve heard East Tennesseans loud and clear. President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty must be stopped, and, because the president refuses to work with Congress to reverse these actions, this could be the only tool we have to make good on our promise to the American people to stop this out-of-control administration. I believe it’s time to for the Senate to come to the table so we can iron out our differences and have this debate.”

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; February 27, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the below statement following the House’s failure to pass H.J. Res. 35, legislation to continue funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through March 19th. Earlier today, Congressman Black also voted for H.R. 240 which would allow the House to enter into a conference committee to reconcile differences between the DHS appropriations bills passed in the two chambers. This legislation passed by a vote of 228 – 191.

“I am sorely disappointed in the 52 Republicans who joined with Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats to defeat H.J. Res. 35,” said Congressman Diane Black. “Their ‘no’ vote was a gift to President Obama that, in turn, paves the way for Speaker Boehner to pass the flawed Senate funding bill with Democrat support. A short-term Continuing Resolution would have allowed us to avoid a Democrat-led DHS shutdown and fight the President’s overreaches on the firmest ground possible while continuing to pursue a favorable resolution through regular order in the form of a conference committee.  The failure of this bill is truly a missed opportunity to combat President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty. I promised to fight this power grab to the end. I wish my colleagues would have joined me in keeping the fight alive.”

Congressman Black added, “I continue to steadfastly oppose the Senate-passed ‘clean’ appropriations bill that allows President Obama’s executive action to go unchecked for the rest of the fiscal year. I have advised my colleagues that if the House holds a vote on this measure, I will vote no. The President said himself 22 times that he does not have the authority to unilaterally rewrite our immigration laws and now a federal judge agrees. We are a nation of laws and the President’s lawless immigration overreach must not stand.”

Background:

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; February 27, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today rejected the Senate Homeland Security Bill that funds President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty. Blackburn voted against a three week “clean” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that may have allowed the President’s amnesty to take effect pending an injunction filed by a federal district court judge in Texas. She agreed to a seven day funding extension and joined her House colleagues in supporting a measure to request a Conference with the Senate to iron out a final solution that funds the DHS while also stopping the President’s lawless executive actions.

“The Senate must be pressured to act and use every tool at their disposal to stop executive amnesty.The American people are sick and tired of Congress kicking the can down the road when it comes to the security of our nation. The people spoke loud and clear last November when they put Republicans in charge of Congress to clean up the mess created by President Obama’s failed policies. The DHS bill approved by the House over a month ago provided the appropriate solution to start cleaning up the mess on our border created by this President’s lawless executive amnesty. However, Democrats continue to hold America and our Constitution hostage by playing procedural games and gimmicks in the Senate.

“Democrat arguments that Republicans are jeopardizing our national security are disingenuous. Democrats were silent while our southern border was being overrun last summer. Their support for the President’s amnesty has made America less secure and turned every state into a border state and every town into a border town. They continue to standby as President Obama unilaterally re-writes immigration law from the Oval Office, thereby nullifying the laws passed by previous Congresses.

“We must be mindful of our responsibility to ensure the Department of Homeland Security has resources necessary to keep our nation safe. The DHS bill passed by the House fulfilled that obligation and took appropriate action to block the illegal amnesty actions taken by this President that put our country’s security further at risk.

“The Senate should have enough respect for the House and the legislative process to take up the House bill, debate it and offer amendments. That’s the way our system of government is supposed to work. It’s time for the Senate to do its job.”

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Press Releases

Black, Others Introduce Health Care Conscience Rights Act

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; February 26, 2015: 

Bill Offers Full Exemption from Obamacare’s HHS Mandate, Conscience Protections for Health Care Entities that Refuse to Provide Abortions 

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-01), and Congressman John Fleming (R-LA-04) announced the reintroduction of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. The bill would protect Americans’ freedom of conscience and stop the Obama Administration’s attack on religious liberty. H.R. 940 offers full exemption from Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and ensures protections for individuals and healthcare entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply held beliefs.

The legislation would also specifically address the unlawful violation of religious freedom in California, where the state Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a directive requiring that all insurance plans offered on the state exchange include coverage for abortions, including plans provided by churches, religious entities, and others with conscionable objections to such procedures. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act has the bipartisan support of 110 cosponsors.

“Religious freedom is a bedrock value of our society but, on President Obama’s watch, this time-honored principle is under assault,” said Congressman Diane Black. “From Obamacare’s coercive HHS mandate to the unlawful, pro-abortion directive by the state boards in California, it is clear that Congress must act where the White House will not and reverse this infringement of our First Amendment rights. That is why our bill offers full exemption from the HHS mandate and provides needed legal protections for healthcare entities who refuse to partake in the barbaric practice of abortion. As a nurse for more than 40 years, I am proud to introduce this legislation that will safeguard the conscience rights of every American and ensure that more unborn lives can be saved in the process.”

“The rights of conscience and religious freedom preexist the government. They are rights grounded by the demands of human dignity and are enshrined in our Constitution. It is a true poverty—that in the name of health care—this most cherished American principle is under assault, violating longstanding legislative agreement and precedent. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act restores this principle for all Americans,” said Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.

“The Administration’s actions are a direct assault on Americans’ religious liberties, forcing people of faith to violate their deeply held religious beliefs,” said Congressman John Fleming. “H.R. 940 will get at the heart of the issue: providing protections against coercive government practices; codifying the Weldon amendment to allow physicians and health care entities to provide quality care without being forced to participate in an abortion;  and providing a private right of action so that victims of government discrimination can seek justice.”

Relevant Background:

Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Ruling
The Supreme Court rejected Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate in favor of family businesses in last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stories, Inc. verdict, however Congressional action is still needed to bring clarity to this debate. Following the court’s ruling, HHS devised an “accommodation” that still requires closely held, faith-based businesses to contract out with insurance companies that will provide coverage for the morally objectionable drugs and devices. The Obama Administration’s workaround does nothing to allow small business owners the freedom to provide health care plans that match their values, it simply removes the employers’ “fingerprints” from the transaction.

California Abortion Directive
On August 22, 2014, California’s DMHC issued a directive requiring that all plans offered on their exchanges – including those purchased by churches and religious charities – to include coverage for abortion. This is a direct violation of a longstanding federal law known as the Weldon Amendment. Reps. Fleming, Black, and Fortenberry – among other members – led a November 25, 2014 letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell calling attention to this injustice. To date, the Administration has not responded.  The Health Care Conscience Rights Act would specifically address this overreach.

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Press Releases

Black: Incorrect Obamacare Tax Info Sent to Consumers ‘Beyond Embarrassing’ for Obama

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; February 20, 2015:

Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee and nurse for more than 40 years, released the following statement on the news that the Obama Administration sent 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers incorrect tax information, which may result in delayed tax refunds:

“The Obama Administration has built a healthcare law so complex, so confusing, and so costly that even they don’t know how to properly administer it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “From a faulty website, to staggering cost estimates, to more Administration-led delays, the hits just keep coming under Obamacare. Now, the White House tells us in a classic Friday news dump that nearly one million Americans could see their tax refunds delayed because of this President’s inability to implement his own law. This is beyond embarrassing for President Obama and is an unfair blow to taxpayers who are once again left holding the bag for this Administration’s incompetence. Moreover, it is yet another example of why the House voted earlier this month with my support to repeal this disastrous law once and for all.”

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Press Releases

Black Files Bill to Grant States Authority to Lease, Permit Energy Exploration on Federal Land

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; February 12, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) reintroduced H.R. 866, the Federal Land Freedom Act (FLFA) of 2015. This legislation would delegate the leasing and permitting process for energy exploration on federal lands to the states. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is set to introduce the Senate companion bill.

“Today Americans are enjoying a reprieve from the sky-high gas prices that have become a hallmark of President Obama’s time in office. But the fact remains, this Administration lacks a commonsense strategy to create more energy at home and to ensure that affordable fuel costs are here to stay,” said Congressman Diane Black. “Right now, our government is hampering domestic energy production by tying up the process in bureaucratic red tape. In 2014 alone it took, on average, 227 days just to process applications for permits to drill on federal lands. Our states have the tools and regional expertise necessary to regulate energy production on their own timetables and in a safe, responsible manner. That is why my bill puts them in the driver’s seat and returns federalism back to our national energy discussion.”

Congressman Black added, “The Federal Land Freedom Act  will finally loosen the Obama Administration’s grip on energy development of public lands. The states already play a role in the federal permitting process, and putting full energy permitting authority in their hands makes good sense both for our economy and our government. I urge my colleagues to join me in working to advance this critical states’ rights legislation.”

Background:
The Federal Land Freedom Act empowers states to establish programs to lease, permit, and regulate the development of all forms of energy resources on federal lands, including renewables.  Once a state makes a declaration that such a program has been established, the state would receive the rights to develop the energy resources located on the federal lands within its borders.

In past years, the number of leases on federal lands has dropped from 131,000,000 acres in Fiscal Year 1984 to less than 35,000,000 acres in Fiscal Year 2014. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 166 million acres of public lands deemed off-limits or inaccessible by the federal government for oil and gas development. Additionally, the time spent to obtain a permit to drill on federal lands stands at 227 days. In comparison, states average around 30 days to approve their corresponding permits.

The Federal Land Freedom Act would not extend to federal Indian land, the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, or a congressionally designated wilderness area. The legislation is supported by Heritage Action, Western Energy Alliance, The R Street Institute, and the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).

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Press Releases

Black: Anthem Data Breach Highlights Healthcare.gov Privacy Risks

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black; R-Tenn. 06; February 5, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee and nurse for more than 40 years, released the below statement on the Anthem Inc. data breach, which has been called “the largest health care breach to date.”

“While the Anthem Inc. data breach is deeply concerning, I am pleased that the company immediately reported the breach to authorities and informed their customers as required by law. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration continues to play by a different set of rules than those they impose on the private sector. Today, if your healthcare information is compromised under Healthcare.gov, the government is under no obligation to inform you. This comes on top of the news that Healthcare.gov was hacked last year and that the Obama Administration has been sharing users’ personal data with third party vendors. That is why I recently introduced the Federal Exchange Data Breach Notification Act of 2015, legislation to bring basic diligence to the Obamacare exchanges by requiring the government to notify users if their information is breached when using Healthcare.gov,” said Congressman Diane Black.

Congressman Black added, “The Anthem data breach should be a teachable moment for the Obama Administration. We all know of the privacy risks that occur in today’s information age but the American people expect their government to mitigate those risks, not make them worse. If the Obama Administration has any regard at all for Americans’ privacy and data security, they will work with me to advance this critical right-to-know legislation.”

Background:
In addition to authoring the Federal Exchange Data Breach Notification Act of 2015,Congressman Black recently led a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) demanding information on the Obama Administration’s practice of sharing consumers’ private information through Healthcare.gov. You can read a copy of the letter here.

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Press Releases

Roe, Black, Blackburn Praise Obamacare Repeal Legislation

Press release from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. 01; February 3, 2015:

Roe Statement on Obamacare Repeal Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House passed legislation to repeal Obamacare and to direct the committees of jurisdiction in Congress to develop a replacement bill that increases access to health insurance, lowers cost and improves quality. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) was unable to be in Washington for the vote because of a family illness, but released the following statement on the legislation:

“As an outspoken opponent of Obamacare, I was proud to cosponsor this legislation, which repeals the president’s health care law and lays the groundwork for a patient-centered alternative. I am glad the House passed this bill, and I hope the Senate will take up this important legislation so we can keep our promise to protect the American people from this terribly flawed and unworkable law. I strongly support this measure and will continue to push for a full repeal of Obamacare and for alternative solutions that will lower costs and increase access to health care.”

“I want to repeal this bill and replace it with something a lot simpler that will actually work, which is why I introduced the American Health Care Reform Act. I’m still convinced we can right the wrongs of Obamacare, but it’s going to take a complete overhaul. I will continue to push conservative, market-based health care reform that will actually lower the cost of health care for American families while allowing them the freedom and flexibility to make their own health care decisions.”

In the last Congress, Rep. Roe introduced the Republican Study Committee’s alternative to Obamacare. The bill, H.R. 3121, the American Health Care Reform Act, had more than 130 cosponsors. More information about H.R. 3121 can be found here.

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

Rep. Black on House Floor: Obamacare “Hurts the Very People It Pretends to Help”

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KzspXtP28k[/youtube]

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee and nurse for more than 40 years, spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 596. If enacted, this legislation would repeal the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, and direct appropriate House committees to devise a patient-centered replacement to this law. The bill, which Congressman Black cosponsored, is expected to receive a vote on final passage in the House later this afternoon. A transcript of Rep. Black’s remarks is below or click here for a video.

Mister Speaker, as a nurse for more than 40 years, I saw how decisions in Washington impacted real people.

I witnessed the effects of Congress’s actions on my patients’ faces and in their billing statements.

I understand better than most the need for health care reform but Obamacare was never the way to do it.

Just ask the 16,000 Tennesseans who lost their health insurance through CoverTN despite the President’s promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Or the 11 million small business employees that CMS says will see their premiums spike because of this law.

The results are in: Obamacare was a mistake that hurts the very people it pretends to help. That is why, today, I will vote to repeal this law once and for all.

I yield back.

Resources:

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; February 3, 20

Blackburn Votes to Repeal Obamacare, Says Law is Too Expensive To Afford
Works to restore healthcare choice & options for American people

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement in support of legislation to repeal Obamacare, H.R. 596, which passed the House today as part of the continued effort to protect consumers from President Obama’s disastrous healthcare law.

“House Republicans remain united in our opposition to the damage done by Obamacare. It is clear to us and clear to our constituents that this law is not affordable,” Blackburn said. “Obamacare is taking us back to the day of old major medical policies with high deductibles, high premiums, and limited choice of doctors and hospitals.

“Over 100 bills have already been introduced this Congress to undo the damage caused by President Obama’s failed healthcare law. One of those bills is my legislation, H.R. 543, the Health Care Choice Act that would empower consumers by giving them the ability to purchase affordable health insurance coverage with a range of options from any provider in any state in the country.

“One thing is clear — Obamacare is not working. It’s time to get it off the books and replace it with common sense solutions that will restore choice and options for the American people.”

Click Here for Video of Blackburn’s Remarks in Support of the Bill

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NewsTracker Tax and Budget

TN Congressional Delegation Responses to Obama Budget Proposal

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama submitted a nearly $4 trillion budget to Congress, calling for an end to the across-the-board cuts in federal spending brought about by the sequestration agreed to by Congress in 2011.

Instead, Obama suggested a 7 percent budget increase over the agreed-upon sequester levels for domestic and defense spending.

“I’m not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward. It would be bad for our security and bad for our growth,” Obama said in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security offices Monday.

The U.S. national debt exceeded $18 trillion for the first time in mid-December 2014, just about 14 months after it exceeded $17 trillion in mid-October 2013.

Republican members of Congress have indicated the budget proposal is “dead on arrival.”

Responses from Tennessee’s congressional delegation to the president’s proposed budget follow:

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn; February 2, 2015:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016:

“We need to address Washington’s spending problem and fix the federal government’s $18 trillion debt, and the way to do it is by reducing the growth of out-of-control entitlement spending. I plan to work with our Republican majority – and, I hope, the president – to make tough choices so we can pass a real plan to fix the debt while supporting other priorities like national defense and national labs and medical research.”

Alexander noted that mandatory spending – which includes out-of-control entitlement spending that is driving the growth in the federal debt – makes up about 60 percent of overall federal spending each year. Discretionary spending – the part of the budget that is already subject to spending caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Bipartisan Budget Act – makes up about 34 percent of federal spending each year and funds national defense, national labs, national parks and other federal priorities.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 2, 2015:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the following statement today regarding President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal.

“Our inability to get our nation’s fiscal house in order continues to be one of the most critical national security threats our country faces. The president’s budget makes little effort to solve that problem and is not a serious proposal,” said Corker. “The spending limits put in place in 2011 have generated the only real fiscal progress our nation has made in decades, yet the president wants to not only break the promise we all made to the American people, but also revert back to the bad habits that created our massive deficits in the first place. I hope Congress will show courage and finally address the largest drivers of our deficits so we can generate economic growth and create more opportunities for Tennesseans.”

Corker, also a member of the Senate Banking Committee, commented on the president’s renewed commitment to work with Congress to pass comprehensive housing finance reform.

“On the other hand, I am pleased the administration has renewed its commitment to working with Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Corker. “The biggest issue this year for the Senate Banking Committee, and the last major unfinished business from the 2008 financial crisis, is finally addressing this tremendous taxpayer liability and ending the failed model of private gains and public losses.”

The president’s budget says bipartisan housing finance legislation passed last year by the Senate Banking Committee was a “meaningful step” in the right direction. The bill, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S.1217), passed the committee in May 2014 by a vote of 13 to 9 and was first introduced by Corker and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) in June 2013.

Press release from U.S. Rep. John Duncan, Jr., R-Tenn. 02; February 2, 2015:

WASHINGTON – Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. released the following statement Monday in response to President Obama’s 2016 budget:

This budget would result in a nearly half-trillion dollar deficit next year alone, and our deficits and interest payments on the National debt would continue to go way up every year.

The most wasteful, least efficient way to spend money is to turn it over to the federal government.  The best way to create more good jobs and keep the cost-of-living low is to decrease federal spending and leave more money in the hands of American families.

I strongly support tax cuts for the middle class.  The president claims he is trying to help the middle class, but during his years in office, the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has grown faster than ever, primarily because of big government policies that help only big federal contractors and the federal bureaucracy.

Like all presidential budgets, it will undergo significant changes.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischman, R-Tenn. 03; February 2, 2015:

WASHINGTON− Rep. Chuck Fleischmann released the following statement in response to President Obama’s proposed budget for FY2016.

“Much like in his State of the Union speech, the President has taken an opportunity to work with Congress and turned it into a partisan game. This budget would increase spending by $2.4 trillion, never balances and simply isn’t a real option. As Tennessee’s sole House Appropriator, I will use my oversight responsibility to comb through the President’s request and ultimately make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and responsibly.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. 05; February 2, 2015:

Nashville’s federal courthouse is Judiciary’s top priority

NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced today that President Barack Obama’s newly released budget for FY 2016 includes funding for construction of a new federal courthouse building in Nashville.

“Nashville is #1 in the nation on the list of priorities for courthouse construction. This announcement is a critical next step in getting the courthouse built, but we’re not done yet,” Cooper said. “We still need Congress to appropriate the funds, and I hope that happens this year.”

Nashville has been waiting for a new courthouse since 1992, when the Estes Kefauver Federal Courthouse was first deemed “inadequate.”

In 2002, the federal government selected the downtown property on Church Street as the site of the new building and purchased the parcels making up the site from 2002-2005. Since then, further studies and an economic downturn have delayed construction on any new federal courthouse. Neither the President’s budget nor Congressional appropriations has included funding for courthouses in four of the last five years, with the exception of the Mobile, Ala., courthouse in FY 2014.

Federal courthouse funding is supposed to follow the Judicial Conference’s five-year plan that contains a priority list of proposed courthouses ranked by need. But for many years, the Judicial Conference’s priorities were routinely ignored in favor of political favoritism and earmarks, a process Cooper opposes.

Cooper has pushed for a transparent, fair funding process and has led bipartisan efforts to award projects based on priority, not politics. Cooper was a founding member of the Congressional Courthouse Caucus, which was formed to address the urgent need for functional, secure courthouses around the country. Cooper has written to President Obama and Members of the House Appropriations Committee several times asking them to prioritize courthouse funding. Cooper has also met with the General Services Administration regarding the public safety hazard that sits atop the site designated for Nashville’s new courthouse, urging its immediate demolition.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. 06; February 2, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), member of the House Budget Committee, released the following statement on President Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016:

“I had hoped to congratulate President Obama on finally delivering a budget to Congress by the legal deadline for the first time in five years, but this proposal isn’t really a budget at all – it is a messaging piece. This so-called budget ignores both the reality of our already crippling $18 trillion national debt and of a new Republican majority in Washington that will not allow this laughable tax-and-spend proposal to pass.” said Congressman Diane Black.

Congressman Black added, “The President promised in his State of the Union address to present ‘a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan.’ Sadly, he has done just the opposite. This budget is not practical, it is political. By adding nearly $8.5 trillion to our debt over the budget window, the President’s plan prioritizes the next election over the next generation – which would be forced to foot the bill for his costly agenda. This budget does nothing to address the strain of our mandatory spending programs and never achieves balance. I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues on the House Budget Committee to craft a responsible, timely budget that offers a substantive alternative to the President’s reckless proposal.”

Additional information:

  • The President’s budget calls for $2.1 trillion in new tax increases, on top of $1.7 trillion in tax hikes already imposed by the AdministrationThis budget would grow total federal spending by $259 billion next year alone
  • Under this plan, interest on our debt would rise to $785 billion by 2025
  • The President’s budget increases annually-appropriated spending for next year by $74 billion over current law
  • Under the President’s budget, gross debt would climb to $26.3 trillion in 2025

(Source: House Budget Committee)

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.07; February 2, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who is a member of the House Budget Committee, issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

“President Obama has declared that the time for ‘mindless austerity’ is over, but there is nothing ‘mindless’ about creating a responsible budget and spending within one’s means. The President’s $4 trillion budget proposal will increase taxes and add to our $18 trillion national debt. At a time when our economy is still trying to get back on track, it isn’t prudent to raise taxes and stifle small business as a way of paying for wasteful government spending.

“The President’s budget is simply out of sync with the concerns of the American people – even 55% of Democrats believe that reducing the federal deficit is a ‘top priority.’ While I appreciate the President’s efforts to propose a budget on time, it would be more productive if he took our unprecedented level of national debt seriously. We need to stop spending money on failed policies from the past and instead craft a budget that will improve our country’s fiscal health and put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; February 2, 2015:

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal:

“President Obama’s budget is a positive vision for our nation’s future that will put us on a sustainable fiscal path. It will spur further economic growth by making critical investments to improve our roads and bridges—creating jobs in Memphis and around the country—and boost take-home pay for the middle-class while closing tax loopholes that allow the wealthiest one percent to avoid paying their fair share.”

“The President’s budget also gives middle-class families better access to higher education by making college more affordable and helps young adults climb out from under a mountain of student debt by capping monthly payments. And it will also help them find jobs by doing more to develop the high-paying, private-sector jobs that will keep our country competitive in the 21st century.”

“And by reversing mindless sequestration cuts, this budget proposal will reinvest in the National Institutes of Health, which is another U.S. department of defense that protects us from deadly diseases and illnesses—because Americans are far more likely to be stricken by Alzheimer’s, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, stroke, cancer, or Parkinson’s than by a terrorist attack. President Obama’s budget will help make our economy work for all Americans instead of just the wealthiest among us, and it is a step in the right direction.”