Press Releases

TFA: ATF Delaying ‘Civilian Firearms Transfers’?

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 10, 2013:

ATF – servicing the government but ignoring the 2nd Amendment

There are conflicting and unconfirmed reports circulating on the Internet regarding the ATF and whether it will be shutdown, insofar as civilian firearms transfers are concerned, during the partial, if no de minimis, government shutdown. These reports seem to co-exist with the confirmed reports of other government agents banning civilian access to parks and even parts of the ocean.

As stated in U.S. Department of Justice document dated Sept. 30, 2013:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): As a Presidential Appointee, the Director is not subject to furlough. Excepted employees include: all agents in ATF’s field divisions, who conduct the full range of criminal investigations in the firearms, arson, explosives, alcohol and tobacco program areas; Industry Operations Investigators who conduct compliance inspections of Federal firearms and Federal explosives licensees (including those mandated under the Safe Explosives Act), as well as application inspections; and other personnel who collect, review and analyze intelligence data in support of criminal investigations. Headquarters support will be maintained only to the extent necessary to support excepted operations.

National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that “… it should be noted that staffing in the Federal Firearms Licensing Center, Imports Branch and NFA Branch has been reduced, though 83% of ATF personnel remain on the job. The customer service operations staffing is some of the 17% who have been reduced.”

Other sites are reporting that ATF activities involving the processing of civilian forms for National Firearms Act activities are or will be suspended. These forms impact the transfer or manufacture of short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns and machine guns but only to the extent that they involve civilians. ATF apparently will continue to process forms for government agencies and agents.

What do you expect from a government that uses force to block veterans and civilians from access an open, public area that historically is available to the public 24/7 with no access restrictions?

While this shutdown may be temporary, it will predictably multiply the length of the delays that can be expected when operational funding resumes.

This is just another example of why its critical for citizens across Tennessee and other states to work to restore true effect to the phrase “shall not be infringed”. If your access to weapons that your right to own and acquire is guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment can be “infringed” simply because the government views those rights as subject to regulation by it and because its categorized even then as “non essential”, then something is seriously wrong.

Press Releases

TNDP Responds to TN Senate GOP Criticism of Obama Over Shutdown

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; October 8, 2013:

There is no defense for the small group of politicians in one party in one branch who forced the government to shut down — a despicable decision that’s hurting Tennessee’s economy and our working families. But these Republican politicians have proven time and again they are more interested in winning political arguments than solving our nation’s problems.


TN GOP state senators denounce Obama in shutdown letter
Associated Press // October 8, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam and fellow Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly appear to be at odds about who will be blamed for the shutdown of the federal government.


19 Times Democrats Tried to Negotiate With Republicans
National Journal // October 7, 2013

To hear almost any Republican lawmaker speak in post-shutdown Washington is to hear that Democrats are refusing to negotiate to reopen the government and avert a debt default. It’s a talking point that may be selling well, but it’s only true if you ignore anything that happened before last Monday at about 11 p.m.

Republicans think they’ve hit talking-point gold with the message, as we learned from a candid “hot mic” moment last week when Sen. Rand Paul privately told fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell that he didn’t think Democrats had “poll-tested” the “awful” message. ” ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ That’s what he’s saying. Complete surrender, and then we’ll talk to you,” House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News on Sunday.

In a sense, Republicans are right. Democrats view keeping the government open and out of default as Congress’s most basic job, and the characterize anything that threatens that as “ransom,” so they say they’re not willing to come to the table until the government reopens. But, in context, the GOP’s biggest talking point of the shutdown falls apart when you consider that Democrats only started refusing to negotiate after Republicans stopped, the hour before the government shut down a week ago.

For instance, through a Senate Democratic aide, here are all the times since this spring Senate Democrats tried to negotiate with Republicans by sending their budget to a bicameral conference committee. Every time, Republicans blocked the move:

1. 4/23 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

2. 5/6 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

3. 5/7 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

4. 5/8 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

5. 5/9 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

6. 5/14 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

7. 5/15 Senator Wyden asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

8. 5/16 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

9. 5/21 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Paul blocked.

10. 5/22 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

11. 5/23 Senator McCaskill asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

12. 6/4 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

13. 6/12 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

14. 6/19 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Toomey blocked.

15. 6/26 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

16. 7/11 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

17. 7/17 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Mike Lee blocked.

18. 8/1 Senator Durbin requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

19. 10/2 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

“For six months I’ve tried to enter into formal budget negotiations with Paul Ryan, only to be repeatedly denied permission to negotiate by Ted Cruz and the tea party,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. “Now, a week into a government shutdown that he could end at a moment’s notice, Speaker Boehner is simply trying to distract from his constantly changing list of demands.”

The parties flipped positions Monday, the first day of the new fiscal year, when Republicans tried to finally start conference-committee negotiations just minutes before midnight. Democrats balked—”We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor—considering that they had been rebuffed almost 20 times beforer and that Republicans had shown no interest until it was already clear the government was closing. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted a picture of a faux conference committee, which included zero Democrats, saying, “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate.”

Perhaps we could have avoided a shutdown if they had been ready to negotiate before the government ran out of money.

Press Releases

TN Senate GOP Letter to President: Quit Trying to ‘Intimidate Opponents of Obamacare’

Letter from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; October 8, 2013:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you to express extreme displeasure in how you are overseeing the budget impasse in Congress known as the “government shutdown.”

Ostensibly, a government shutdown would revolve around saving taxpayer funds. That is not the case in this instance. In fact, your administration seems to be going to great lengths and sparing no expense to sell your particular shutdown narrative.

While the media eagerly accepts this narrative, we in public service know the truth. The IRS is still collecting taxes and the NSA is still compiling metadata. Vital services are still available and essential employees are still getting paid.

There is no government shutdown, merely a slowdown. What’s worse is that public displays of this so-called shutdown appear to be packaged for mass media consumption. Your administration seems to be in the business of selling this “shutdown” as a creation of House Republicans when it is in truth a maneuver by Senate Democrats to save the implementation of your administration’s legislative showpiece.

Witness the barricading of the World War II Memorial in Washington. This is a memorial that, while usually staffed during business hours, is open to the public 24 hours a day. The public “closing” of this memorial and keeping veterans off the grounds by threat of force was a farce. The closing of the D-Day Memorial and 24 other memorials overseas just adds insult to injury.

Tennesseans are well aware of this tactic. Over ten years ago when our state faced a budget crisis, state parks in key legislative districts were closed. This was a last ditch effort by liberals to scare Tennesseans into supporting higher taxes. The Obama administration has similarly shut down federal parks in Tennessee, in some cases blocking roads children need to take to school. This tactic was transparent then and it is transparent now.

Just like the old tax and spenders in Tennessee, the Obama administration hopes to intimidate opponents of Obamacare into capitulating and selling out their constituents – constituents who want the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.

Your administration wants us to believe we cannot reduce the budget and we must continue down the path of increasing our debt. Yet the Senate has not passed a budget in over four years and our debt as a percentage of GDP sits at nearly 73%.

We know that the people of Tennessee see through this blatant attempt to manipulate public perception. We hope the rest of the nation sees this “shutdown” not as the folly of Republican intransigence but for what it truly is: a face-saving measure by a President to ram through the implementation of unworkable legislation.


The Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus

Press Releases

Herron Calls on GOP Lawmakers to Stop Their Own Pay During Shutdown

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; October 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today called on Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Congressmen Stephen Fincher and Scott DesJarlais and other Republicans who shut down government to stop paying themselves.

“Congressional Republicans are cutting off the pay of almost a million U.S. workers, but continue to pay the least productive, most wasteful, least efficient and highly paid federal employees — themselves,” Herron said. “Because Congressional Republicans refuse to do their work, federal workers cannot do our work.”

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted U.S. Rep. Blackburn and another Republican Congressman, asking if they would forgo their $174,000 salary while other federal employees are being denied pay because of the government shutdown. Blackburn refused to answer and still has not answered.

Blackburn’s comment comes on the heels of her Tennessee Republican colleague U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s controversial quoting of the Bible when arguing against food stamps.

Herron said, “Why should the politicians pay themselves for refusing to take care of business while denying others’ paychecks for taking care of the people’s business? Congresswoman Blackburn has so far refused to say whether she will stop her pay, but Congressman Fincher has quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and told her what she and he should do: ‘Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.'”


CNN Host Asks GOP Representatives Whether They’d Give Up Their Salary During A Shutdown, Hilarity Ensues

ThinkProgress // Annie-Rose Strasser and Adam Peck // September 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted two Republican representatives – Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) – to see whether they themselves would be willing to forgo a paycheck in the event of a government shutdown, something nearly every other federal employee would be forced to do.

“So you are both paid $174,000 a year, and that is the salary,” she said, “Would you be prepared to add some rider or amendment on to a continuing resolution that would take you out of the essential services category and stop payment on your paychecks in order to get a continuing resolution through, and yes or no?”

There was a long pause before the two tried to pivot to a different topic. Eventually, Rohrabacher stepped in to say that members of Congress were treated the same as other federal employees:

BLACKBURN: We are waiting to see what they send back, and I hope that as you were running the countdown clock that you are I have two grandsons, and their share of the national debt is now over $53,000 each.

BANFIELD: No no no. I’m sorry. I asked a specific question, and there are a lot of the government workers going to stop receiving their paychecks, and a there are a lot of the military service members who are serving overseas who might be stopped being paid and veterans whose benefits will be affected. Would you –

ROHRABACHER: Let me answer that. Members of Congress should not be treated any differently than any other federal employee.

BANFIELD: Is that a yes?

ROHRABACHER: Whatever happens to us when it comes to what we get in benefits and whether it is retirement or health care and whatever happens to the average federal employee should happen to us, and that rule should not be changed.
If the government shuts down on Tuesday, all government employees who are considered “non-essential personnel” will be told to stop coming to work and, for the period they’re not working, they won’t be getting paid. Those federal employees also wouldn’t get back payment when the government resumed its work, unless Congress explicitly approved a bill saying they would. Members of Congress are considered “essential.”

Business and Economy Education Health Care Liberty and Justice Tax and Budget

Haslam Expects Federal Belt-Tightening to Squeeze Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that state and local governments should be prepared for less money coming from Washington as Republicans and Democrats feud over federal debt issues. He reasoned that Tennessee will take a hit regardless of how the matter is resolved.

In a speech to the Rotary Club in Fayetteville, Haslam also left the door open for possible expansion of pre-kindergarten classes in Tennessee, although not soon. He pointed to reasons for his regional jobs approach in the state and said while he thinks the economy is improving it is still “a long way until we get out of the woods” financially.

After making brief remarks, Haslam took questions from the audience and was asked what impact the budget battle in Washington could have on the state.

“I do think it will get worked out, but there will be less money coming out of Washington than there used to be,” Haslam said. “There just will be. For all programs. Whether that’s money aimed toward education or health care or building roads or helping folks with mental health issues or workforce development issues. There will be less Washington dollars going forward.

“That’s why I say while we’re working our way out of some budget issues we’re not out of the woods yet, because we still have some economic challenges, and I’m not sure what the Washington changes will mean for us.”

President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress have been deadlocked with Republicans over a debt-reduction plan.

Haslam pointed to warnings about the state’s bond ratings even though Tennessee has strong ratings from the three major bond agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.

“We would love to have three AAA ratings, because we have a great balance sheet as a state,” he said. “They kind of sent a warning out to all the states, saying, ‘We’re thinking about downgrading every state’s debt because we’re worried about the federal government.’”

Haslam said since states receive a large amount of revenue through federal funds, the federal budget issue would have a domino effect on all states. The governor will be traveling to visit the rating agencies in a few weeks.

After his appearance, Haslam said he had talked recently with both Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Sen. Bob Corker, who has been especially vocal on getting the nation’s debt under control, about the impasse in Washington.

“It depends on what day you catch them about their optimism about where we are on it,” he said. “At times they get a little frustrated with the politics of that, but I don’t know that I have any insight there beyond what anybody else does.”

When asked Thursday about the state’s pre-K program, which currently operates on a limited basis, Haslam hinted he might like to add more pre-K classes.

“Right now, I’m in favor of leaving it where it is,” he said. “We funded it in the schools where it currently exists. I actually think there’s a chance we will expand it down the road. But I think we’re waiting for more data to come in and our revenue situation to change.

“To put it in every school would cost us about $300 million, and we just don’t have it right now.”

Haslam said the lack of funds makes the decision easy to wait for more information about the effects of pre-kindergarten classes. He said the delay could mean more time to figure out where pre-K is effective and where it may not be effective. The issue has become politically charged in Tennessee, with many Republican lawmakers wanting to draw the line on pre-K, pointing to a series of state-funded studies that indicate limited long-term impact on students’ performance.

Since Fayetteville, in Lincoln County, is in a border county with Alabama, about 30 miles north of Huntsville, Ala., the issue of sales taxes and how they apply across state lines came up Thursday. Further, Haslam said Tennessee loses an estimated $500 million-$600 million each year in revenue because of Internet sales.

“I’m confident everybody in this room has bought something off the Internet recently, and you probably bought more this year than last year, and you’ll probably buy more next year,” he said. “So we have to address that issue.”

He renewed his call for Congress to step in and settle the matter nationally.

Haslam pointed to Lincoln County’s proximity to Huntsville, saying in some ways the county has more in common with Huntsville than Nashville, which has implications when recruiting jobs. But he said he didn’t think borders should stop economic development partnerships.

“There are a lot of things happening in northern Alabama we can partner with them on, and we’ve had some very preliminary conversations about how we might make that happen,” he said.

Haslam’s comments came the same day House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, announced he had appointed a task force dedicated to creating more jobs in the state.

Haslam said when he speaks to business leaders they comment frequently on how nice people in Tennessee are but that the state’s ranking in the 40s among the 50 states in education is “the one drawback we have.”

Press Releases

Ramsey in on Obama Administration ‘Shutdown’ Call

Press Release from Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, April 8, 2011:

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R –Blountville) joined a White House Intergovernmental Affairs briefing call today with top state and local officials from across the country. Representatives of seven federal agencies were on the call covering the fields of Medicaid, transportation, housing, labor, personnel and the environment.

“There are many, many real questions and concerns from state leaders about a possible federal government shutdown,” said Ramsey. “While there still seem to be more questions than answers on how the states will be affected I do appreciate the White House reaching out to keep the lines of communications open.”

Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, opened the call and directed state leaders to a central website The website will serve as clearinghouse of information on several agencies whose crucial missions interact with the states.

Danny Werfel, Controller of OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management, stressed that while that there are no “hard and fast rules” on how the states could be affected and that states need to coordinate with their own legal authorities to help prepare for a shutdown.

“I hope Washington, DC gets its act together soon.” said Ramsey. “We know how to balance a budget here in Tennessee and we’re in far better position to survive a disruption than most states. The Obama administration should look to states like Tennessee to see how to avoid a government shutdown.”

Press Releases

Tennessee Health Freedom Act Returns

Press release from the Senate GOP Caucus, Jan. 13, 2011:

Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Weaver to file “Health Freedom Act” protecting patient’s right to make their own health care choices

(NASHVILLE, TN), January 13, 2010 – State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) announced today they will file legislation to protect the freedom of Tennessee patients to make their own health care choices, regardless of the federal action taken in Washington last year. The bill is similar to legislation Beavers passed in the Senate last year. That legislation, however, was not approved in the House of Representatives.

“The health care law passed by Congress last year is ‘big brother’ at his worst,” said Senator Beavers. “The citizens of Tennessee believe they should be able to choose whether or not they want to participate in a federal health care plan. That is what this bill seeks to accomplish.”

The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, does not seek to “nullify” any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program. However, it acknowledges the right of Tennesseans to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program.

“The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, would protect a citizen’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person’s decision,” said Rep. Weaver. “It seeks a remedy to fight back against the overreach of federal power on the private lives of our citizens.”

Financial experts predict that the federal healthcare plan will consume any anticipated growth in Tennessee’s revenues once the economy recovers, crippling the state’s ability to make future improvements in critical needs like education, job investment and public safety. The federal health care law will also penalize citizens beginning in 2014 if they do not buy insurance.

“We are talking about stiff penalties that will escalate to 2.5 percent of a citizen’s taxable income by 2016 if they do not purchase health care insurance,” added Beavers. “This will put a heavy burden on citizens who are already struggling to make ends meet. I am very hopeful this legislation will pass our General Assembly this session.”