ADVANCING THE CONSERVATIVE CAUSE
Vol. 2 – No. 7
RHEA COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Keith Flatness, Chairman Bitsy Gryder, Vice Chairman
Donna Taylor, Secretary Larry Pendergrass, Treasurer
Linda Pendergrass, Vice Treasurer Marv Keener, Chaplain
Gary Drinkard, Parliamentarian Jim Murphy, PAC Chair
The September meeting will be held on Thursday, September 6th, at 7:00 PM, at the Rhea County Sheriff’s Training Center, 711 Eagle Ln, Evensville, TN. We look forward to seeing you there!
Being honest might not get you a lot of friends but it will always get you the right ones. – John Lennon
CORRECTION TO THE JUNE MEETING MINUTES
The minutes from the June meeting, published in the July issue, stated that Tennessee’s annual budget is $37 million. According to Rep. Ron Travis, the correct budget amount is $37 billion ($36.9 billion, to be more exact). – Editor
MINUTES FROM THE JULY MEETING
Chairman Keith Flatness called the July 5, 2018 meeting of the RCRP to order at 7:00 PM. Marvin Keener led the invocation and Joe Gryder led the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag.
Chairman Flatness welcomed our guests, State Senator Ken Yager; Liz Holloway, State Republican Party Executive Committeewoman and her husband Charles Holloway; Missy Thomas Blevins, who is running for the 12th District Chancellor; Michael Willis, and; Randy Ellis, who is a candidate for the Republican State Executive Committee.
Secretary Donna Taylor read the minutes from the June meeting; Bitsy Gryder made the motion to accept the minutes as read; the motion was seconded by Joe Gryder; the motion carried.
The Treasurer’s Report was given by Larry Pendergrass; Marvin Keener moved to approve the report; Joe Gryder seconded the motion, and; the motion carried.
Jim Murphy gave the PAC report.
Missy Thomas Blevins was added to the ballot and is running for Chancellor of the 12th District.
RCRP was well-represented at both the Bledsoe and Roane County Reagan Day Dinners.
Kris Bancroft gave the Legislative Report and explained the status and meaning of several crucial bills currently under consideration in the US House and Senate.
Linda Pendergrass provided an update on the bench to be placed on the courthouse grounds in honor of Gladys Best; it will be six feet long and will cost about $600. The plaque will read “The Best Bench for 56 years of service.”
A discussion about the RCRP membership in the Dayton Chamber of Commerce was held. Joe Gryder moved to renew our membership; seconded by Tom Taylor; the motion carried. It was noted that Brock Harris regularly attends meetings of the Chamber and can represent the RCRP.
Joe Gryder moved to spend $450 for advertisements in The Rhea County Herald for our four [Republican] candidates – Missy Thomas Blevins, Teresa Hulgan, Cary Taylor, and Ron Travis – Larry Pendergrass seconded the motion, and; the motion carried. (July 13, 2018 the Executive Committee approved increasing the amount to $800 so color ads could be purchased.)
Marvin Keener moved that we spend $300 for radio ads supporting our Republican candidates; seconded by Joe Gryder, and; the motion carried.
All candidates present were given an opportunity to address the meeting if they wished. State Senator Ken Yager, Randy Ellis, Missy Thomas Blevins, Bill Hollin, and Kris Bancroft spoke supporting their candidacy for office.
[Chairman Flatness] announced that this was our last meeting before [the August 2nd] election so be sure to GO VOTE.
[Chairman Flatness] gave his “Joke of the Month.” Linda Pendergrass moved to adjourn the meeting; seconded by Joe Gryder, and; the motion carried.
Donna Taylor, Secretary
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music. – Friedrich Nietzsche
BOOK OF THE MONTH
The book for this month is entitled “Nasty People – How to Stop Being Hurt by Them without Becoming One of Them,” by Jay Carter. Although his book is intended to serve as a primer for those who may be involved in difficult interpersonal relationships, it serves as a guide for those who may engage in political debate. It helps the reader to become better focused on issues that truly matter and avoid allowing their conversations to devolve into personal attacks.
A government which lays taxes upon the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizens to servitude. – Calvin Coolidge
READERS ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
This section is provided for our readers to make announcements about activities in their area or offer commentary on current events. Readers are encouraged to do so. Please e-mail your announcements or comments to email@example.com – Editor.
Gary Drinkard, a reader from Spring City, TN offers the following:
On Friday, the Trump administration released their annual report to Congress on White House Office Personnel. It includes the name, status, salary, and position title of all 377 White House employees.
The report also showed that President Trump is far better at saving money than Obama was. The total annual White House salaries under Trump are $35.8 million vs. $40.9 under Obama, a savings of $5.1 million. Here are some other key findings. There are 110 fewer employees on White House staff under Trump than under Obama at this point in their respective presidencies.
Nineteen fewer staffers are dedicated to The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Currently, there are five staffers dedicated to Melania Trump vs. 24 staffers who served Michelle Obama (FY2009)
However, it’s what the report said Trump did with this salary that has everyone talking. Instead of taking his salary, Trump donated all $400,000 to the Department of the Interior where it will be used for construction and repair needs at military cemeteries! AMAZING! It’s so great to have a President who loves our brave military men and women so much! Oh, and where’s the media coverage of this? That’s right, they don’t cover anything good that the President does.
Lee Green, a reader from Miami, FL, currently living in Lisbon, Portugal, offers the following observation on walking away from the Democrat Party: The moment I dropped the victim mentality was the moment life began to kiss me and bless me abundantly. No more [was I] shackled by the ideologies implanted in my mind. With the oppressed mind I felt enclosed in a small box, but now it feels like a vast ocean of endless possibilities . . . everywhere I look I see opportunity dangling in the breeze in places I could not see them before. My mind no longer recognizes doubt, fear, or limitations. It only recognizes the limitless; the sea of opportunity; the vastness in the distance. For I come from a nation that has produced many men who have risen from the shackles of poverty and into the [unimagined] of wealth. Blessed are those who have received divine ideas from the Creator himself and listened to that small voice and put those ideas into the world for all to experience. I do not know where my Lord will take me from here, but I know the doors to His blessings are completely open for me to receive now. For ye are Gods and endowed with the power of the most high. Do not allow man to limit you to mere cattle. For freedom is your divine right.
[Lee Green is an energetic young man who has discovered that the conservative agenda offers the best hope for everyone; he is passionate about advancing the Conservative Cause and has decided to start a blog to help guide more people toward the light of conservatism. He asked that I publish this request: “Also I started a gofundme to help get my podcast started to help rally as much support for Trump as I can. I would love for you to share that as well if you don’t mind. I have attached the link below. Let me know if you need anything else from me. Take care.”
Edward Henderson, a reader from Brookville, KS writes: Everything we buy has a label or a sticker on it that tells us where it was made or grown. If we refuse to buy things that were produced by another country then it would be the same thing as [imposing] a trade embargo on that country. That’s what we’re doing here in Kansas. Most of the folks I know are refusing to buy anything made in China, or any other country that wants to destroy the United States economy. We’ve got to teach them that they can’t control us. I hope you’ll join us because this is your country, too, after all.
Irony: The same judges who say we shouldn’t have to stand during the playing of our national anthem demand that we stand when they enter the courtroom. – Jim Hice
Brendan Thomas, a reader from Arlington, VA and Spokesman for Scott DesJarlais offered his comments from his interview by the The Tennessee Star following President Trump’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais has inserted measures into the 2019 NDAA that will give more aid to Middle Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense Technology Corridor.
According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee’s aerospace cluster includes 52 companies, including the Arnold Engineering Development Complex. The region also has advanced research centers and manufacturers that supply the U.S. military and commercial enterprises with state-of-the-art equipment.
“In terms of Tennessee, there are all kinds of military bases and service members across the state who are interested in national security . . . this is the area through Middle Tennessee and parts of Alabama and Kentucky, known as the Aerospace Tech Corridor. This is where there are bases and private enterprises on the forefront of hypersonic and nuclear research. He directed his energy into those endeavors.
“Among the beneficiaries are Fort Campbell, the research facilities at the University of Tennessee Tullahoma, and the nuclear research facilities in Oak Ridge. The 2019 NDAA will also increase funding for hypersonic research by $20 million. More U.S. Air Force investment in hypersonic aircrafts, for instance, benefits the Tullahoma facility.
[‘Hypersonic’ relates to speeds of more than five times the speed of sound. Approximately 18,000 mph. – Editor]
“The Chinese are already very advanced in this area. People wonder why we need to apply ourselves in this area. Our enemies are not slowing down. We can’t sit on our laurels and pretend there are no dangers in the world. The Chinese are also developing lasers. The NDAA also gives the secretary of defense more hiring authority and to hire certain people more quickly.
“My understanding is there are some civil service and employment regulations that prevent quick hiring of skilled personnel in cybersecurity and other areas and this is actually going to speed up the process of hiring those people.
“It’s a very competitive market for computer engineers, for technicians of all kinds of cybersecurity experts. There are a lot of opportunities these days in the private sector for these people to get a great career and make money and one of the problems with the federal government is it takes so long to hire people. It takes a long time to train them to do what the federal government needs them to do.”
[According to a press release, the 2019 NDAA will also help to enforce Russia’s cooperation with a nuclear arms control treaty, gives troops a pay raise, and it builds on Trump’s proposal to create a new space force to counter foreign threats. – Editor]
Joni Hargrove, a reader from Lebanon, Tennessee responded to the question posed in the August issue of The Rhea County Republican, on how to increase interest and attendance in local Republican groups by sharing what has worked quite well for her group. The Red River Republicans ladies group host a variety of social and fund-raising events including luncheons, wine tastings, and teas where existing membership can share good times and new potential members can be introduced and recruited. She informs us that a good fund raising tool have proven to be bake sales and cake auctions.
Marv Keener, Chaplain for the Rhea County Republican Party offers this comment:
Fellow Republicans allow me to ask you, are you engaged? The progress we see happening is painfully slow, because the margin is too slim and a few RINOS are like sand in the bearings. We can take it for granted that we have a majority and all is well. Thus allowing the Democrats to get out the vote reverse all our gains. Or we can get busy and build on the lead we have, making it easier to get good bills through. Only a few days are left, please talk to your family and friends. Be sure that we have every one vote this November (or early voting). Help the handicapped and old folks get there. Early voting works better for them. May it never be said that we were beat by apathy. Thank you for joining me in this concern.
Those who believe without reason cannot be convinced by reason. – James Randi
COMMENTS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVES
Scott DesJarlais, MD, Representative for Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District and member of the House Armed Services Committee included measures in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Trump has signed into law, that will improve hypersonic flight research, reduce barriers to hiring cybersecurity and other skilled personnel at the Defense Department, and help reinforce Russia’s cooperation with a nuclear arms control treaty in the newest version of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), offered the following comment:
“Middle Tennessee is home to advanced research centers and manufacturers, supplying U.S. military and commercial enterprises with state-of-the-art equipment. My constituents are developing and deploying the next generation of technology to defend America. This law gives them, including many brave soldiers serving in harm’s way, more resources to protect themselves and the rest of us. It gives troops a pay raise, and very importantly, secures our economy against predatory Chinese trade practices. It builds on the President’s proposal to create a new Space Force to counter foreign threats wherever they may be. I’m proud to do my part in Congress, where national security is my highest priority.”
Every time we object to a thing being done by the government, the socialist conclude that we object to its being done at all. – Frederic Bastiat
H.R. 2353 Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. (Thompson, R-PA, 61 pages). H.R. 2353 is a rewritten version of H.R. 5587, which passed the House but was changed in the Senate. This version reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act) to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills necessary to compete for and succeed in high-skilled, in-demand careers. Specifically, the legislation looks to empower state and local community leaders, improve alignment with in-demand jobs, increase transparency and accountability, and ensure a limited federal role.
The bill simplifies the requirements states have to follow when applying for federal funds and streamlines the application process to better align it with the process for submitting the state workforce development plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The bill allows providers to fill out a simple local application rather than a lengthy plan. Recipients will also partner with local stakeholders to perform biennial reviews to help career and technical education (CTE) programs meet the needs of local communities. In addition, HR 2353 increases from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds that states can set aside to assist CTE programs in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students and use federal funds to support CTE programs focused on a state’s unique education and economic needs or state-based innovation.
The legislation supports innovative learning opportunities by promoting work-based learning and evaluating CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. State leaders are encouraged to better integrate their CTE services with other state-led programs. The bill encourages stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of CTE and the performance goals set at the state and local levels, while at the same time empowering state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with the skills necessary to fill available jobs in their state and communities.
To increase transparency and accountability, HR 2353 streamlines the number of performance measures used to evaluate CTE programs and aligns these performance measures with those set by each state under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The “technical skill proficiency” indicator is replaced with a state determined indicator to help ensure taxpayer dollars are supporting CTE programs that prepare students to continue their education or start their careers. At the postsecondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures and aligns these with the performance indicators in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and encourages states to set targeted levels of performance through an open process that includes input from local education leaders, parents, students, workforce development boards, community and business representatives, and others. HR 2353 also protects taxpayers by directing states to include targeted levels of performance in the state plan, as well as report and annually publish the results on how they perform.
Finally, the legislation ensures a limited federal role by repealing the requirement that states must negotiate their targeted levels of performance with the Secretary of Education, and prevents the Secretary from withholding funds from a state that does not meet certain performance targets. Instead, the bill empowers state leaders to develop an improvement plan that works best for the needs and circumstances in their states. The bill also requires the federal plan for research, development, dissemination, and evaluation to be carried out by an independent entity, rather than the Secretary of Education, and requires that future demonstration projects focus on enhancing performance and student success.
HR 2353 was passed in the House and Senate, and has been forwarded to the President for signature.
On 24 July, eleven bills making changes to the Department of Homeland Security practices and procedures were favorably Ordered Reported in the House of Representatives. They include: H.R. 6198 Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018 (Donovan, R-NY, 16 pages), to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, and for other purposes; H.R. 6265 Pre-Check is Pre-Check Act of 2018 (Katko, R-NY, 9 pages), to ensure that only travelers who are members of a trusted traveler program use Transportation Security Administration security screening lanes designated for trusted travelers, and for other purposes; H.R. 6332 Improving Strategies to Counter Weapons Proliferation Act (Tipton, R-CO, 3 pages), to require the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to submit a report to Congress on the way in which data collected pursuant to Title 31 is being used, and for other purposes; H.R. 6374 FIT Act (Perry, R-PA, 3 pages), to require the Department of Homeland Security to streamline Federal contractor fitness determinations, and for other purposes; H.R. 6400 United States Ports of Entry and Operational Review Act (Lesko, R-AZ, 6 pages), to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a threat and operational analysis of ports of entry, and for other purposes; H.R. 6430 Securing the Homeland Security Supply Chain Act of 2018 (King, R-NY, 12 pages), to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement certain requirements for information relating to supply chain risk, and for other purposes; H.R. 6438 DHS Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act (Perry, R-PA, 3 pages), to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish in the Department of Homeland Security an unmanned aircraft systems coordinator, and for other purposes; H.R. 6439*** Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Authorization Act of 2018 (McCaul, R-TX, 6 pages), to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish in the Department of Homeland Security the Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program, and for other purposes; H.R. 6447 to Amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish the position of Chief Data Officer of the Department of Homeland Security and for other purposes (Carter, R-TX, (text not yet available)); H.R. 6443 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a continuous diagnostics and mitigation program at the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes (Ratcliffe, R-TX, (text not yet available)), and; H.R. 6459 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require a strategy to diversify the technology stakeholder marketplace regarding the acquisition by the Transportation Security Administration of security screening technologies, and for other purposes (Thompson, D-MS, (text not yet available)).
There are generally three reasons why so many bills might be introduced in rapid succession: 1. A significant threat or threats have been identified; 2. Major issues have been identified in the way a previous administration had managed certain functions, and; 3. There are unused budget allocations that would be returned to the Treasury if no purpose is found for them. Whatever their reasoning might be, citizens must ALWAYS question the motives of their representatives when we see activities out of the ordinary. – Editor
S 3248 A bill to restrict the provision by international financial institutions of loans and financial and technical assistance to the Government of Turkey, and for other purposes. (Corker, R-TN, 1 page). This bill is intended to apply pressure on the government of Turkey to secure the release of an American citizen who has, as has been argued, been jailed on false claims of conspiracy to overthrow the Erdogan regime.
The August recess has begun. This is a good time to be on the lookout for town hall meetings in your area and a chance to voice your opinion on issues of concern to you and your committee. One thing that might be good to request your representatives to do is to reintroduce HR 4760 the Securing America’s Future Act. This bill was narrowly defeated by the so-called “moderate” Republicans and the Democrats. It would have reduced legal immigration by ending all chain migration and eliminating the visa lottery. It would have also mandated E-Verify and strengthened enforcement both at the border and in the interior. You are especially encouraged to talk with your U.S. Representative during the recess about the need to reduce legal immigration for the benefit of American workers and long-term sustainability. – Editor
Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. But the mind is an attribute of the individual, there is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot not be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others. It is not an object of sacrifice. – Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead.”
The mid-term elections are two months away. Do you know for whom you will vote? More importantly, do you know why you consider the candidate you will support to be the best of all choices? (HINT: Although, generally speaking, the worst Republican is better than the best Democrat, the fact that your candidate of choice may be a Republican is NOT the answer!)
If we don’t know why we’re voting for a candidate then, let’s face it, we’re not much better off than all those folks we criticized for voting for Hillary or Bernie. We have a responsibility to defend our choice, and if we can’t defend our choice then we’re not likely going to persuade those we meet who might be “on the fence” to support our choice.
In the way of an example for making the right choice (and then being able to defend it), let’s look at the Tennessee Governor’s race. We have a choice between a seasoned Democrat politician – Karl Dean – and an entrepreneur who is new to politics – Bill Lee.
There isn’t a lot in the way of a platform, per se, on Karl Dean’s website https://www.karldean.com/ but he does take credit for “Nashville’s unprecedented prosperity” during the eight years he served as Mayor. (More on that later.)
Some might say that Bill Lee is “inexperienced” but, to his credit, he has put forth what appears to be a solid platform – goals he has set for Tennessee, if he is elected. His platform includes the following:
- Positioning Tennessee’s employers to create more jobs by lowering taxes on business and enacting an immediate regulatory freeze to reduce burdens on businesses
- Promoting school choice, incorporating more vocational curricula into public schools, and increasing emphasis on civics education by requiring students to attain a working knowledge of government before graduation. These efforts would include the removal of Common Core and enabling parents to have a choice among which schools they enroll their children
- Solving Tennessee’s opioid crisis by giving law enforcement the tools they need to stop the flow of street drugs coupled with significantly stronger penalties for drug traffickers while improving alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders who are working to escape their addiction
- Reducing the size of the state budget by making Tennessee’s government smaller and more efficient through reductions in Tennessee’s Cabinet Departments (the Federal Government has 15 such Departments while Tennessee has 22), and appointing an Inspector General to proactively seek out inefficiencies, fraud, waste, and abuse.
- Passing term limits while reducing the access to elected representatives by lobbyists by passing a five-year rule before former elected officials may work for lobbying groups and strengthening Tennessee’s conflict of interest rules to ensure that no sitting official may receive emoluments while in office.
- Creating an Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives in the Governor’s Office to defend religious liberty that would welcome leaders of both faith and nonprofit organizations as partners in addressing problems in our communities.
- Initiating a new program to invite, and receive public comments on, new laws before they are signed, and completely overhaul the open records and open meetings act to make Tennessee’s government more transparent.
- Protecting the unborn by signing legislation that reduces abortion (e.g. the “Heartbeat Bill”), and defunding Planned Parenthood.
- Defending constitutional liberties without compromise in the way of honoring the First Amendment to defend religious liberty so that Tennesseans may exercise their religion freely, without intimidation from the State and activists groups, honoring the Second Amendment by signing constitutional carry legislation, and enforcing the Tenth Amendment against federal overreach on issues such as 0bamacare.
- Ensuring that Tennessee has no “Sanctuary Cities” and ensuring that no new benefits are created to illegal immigration.
Karl Dean’s platform (a link is posted above) tells us he:
- Wants to increase public school teachers’ salaries and supports charter schools if they are non-profit entities but is against school vouchers
- Supports medical marijuana use but is against recreational use while increasing treatment for opioid addicts
- Was the first Mayor in Tennessee to support same sex marriages
- Considers cuts to EPA as “unthinkable”
- Has not yet issued a policy statement on crime reduction and punishment for convicted felons
- Strongly supports a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens, including reduced or “free” college tuition
- Supports higher taxes for the wealthy
- Has not offered an opinion on 2nd Amendment rights
- Favors the expansion of 0bamacare and Medicaid
- Has not offered an opinion on 1st Amendment rights
However, one can learn more about Karl Dean by examining his legacy as Mayor of Nashville. In doing so it is important to look at his city’s financial condition. https://www.truthinaccounting.org/library/doclib/BNA-2016-2pager.pdf is a non-partisan website maintained by “Truth in Accounting,” (TIA), and reveals the following information:
- Nashville is currently ranked 64th among the top 75 most populous cities in the U.S. earning it a “D” on TIA’s grading scale
- The city is currently indebted $3.1 billion, or $15.6 thousand for every resident living in Nashville
- Nashville has $731.4 million in unfunded pension promises and another $3.1 billion in unfunded retiree healthcare benefits
TIA indicates the city’s officials have obfuscated some crucial data. In their statement on the fiscal condition of Nashville, they published the following observation: “These statistics are jarring but what is just as alarming is that city government officials continue to hide significant amounts of retirement debt from their balance sheets, despite new rules to increase financial transparency. This skewed financial data gives residents a false impression of their city’s overall financial health.”
Meanwhile, on his website, Karl Dean claims he led Nashville to “[the] unprecedented economic transparency that it’s experiencing today.” The former Mayor of Nashville goes on to encourage us to believe “Karl’s experience makes him the right person to bring the same opportunities to every Tennessean.”
Our right to vote carries with it the attendant responsibility to know about all the candidates. It is through examining the issues, and the candidates’ positions on those issues, that we make the best of all possible choices and making the best of all possible choices is one of the ways we safeguard our freedoms.
If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed. – Thomas Jefferson
This is the 2nd and final entry that explains and defines the language used by Congress, as it pertains to the legislative process. Understanding these terms and processes is crucial to understanding the status of bills and resolutions voted on by our representatives.
Some years ago, someone observed that the legislative process is a lot like making sausage. In studying the way bills become law this analogy seems fairly accurate. Perhaps this is why so few people understand this process and, based on their understanding, become frustrated by the way bills are promulgated by government. It seems a proper undertaking then to explain this sordid process.
The primary function of Congress, as the Legislative Branch of our government is to create and modify laws. In addition, under the powers enumerated in the Constitution, Congress has authority over financial and budgetary policies by levying and collecting all manner of processes where the funding of our government is concerned. The purpose of this action is to pay debts and “provide for the general welfare” of the United States.
While any entity may write a bill – the President, a citizen, a State government, or some group that has a particular interest in creating law – that bill must be sponsored and introduced by a Member of Congress. There is one proviso at this point; any bill that requires expenditures or obligations made by or from the Treasury (a “spending bill”), must be introduced by a Member of the House of Representatives, while all other bills may be introduced by either a Member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
There are differences in the way a bill is handled and processed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives, the legislation is handed to the Clerk of the House and placed in the “hopper.” In the Senate, a Member must gain the recognition of the presiding officer to announce the introduction of a bill during the morning hour. If any Senator should object, the introduction of the bill is postponed until the next day.
Upon its introduction the bill is assigned a number, e.g. “H.R. 1” or “S. 1”, with the H.R. designation indicating the bill originated in the House of Representatives, and the S. designation indicating that the bill originated in the Senate. The bill is labeled with the sponsor’s name. The bill is then sent to the Government Printing Office, and copies are made. Senate bills can be jointly sponsored and House bills can be co-sponsored.
After a bill is introduced it is referred to the appropriate committee(s) by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the presiding officer in the Senate. (Most often, this referral is made by the House or Senate parliamentarian who acts with the authority of the Speaker or Senate Majority Leader.) It is not unusual for a bill to be split, with its parts sent to different committees. The Speaker of the House of Representatives may set a time limit on the respective committees and when this happens the bill is placed on the calendar of the committee(s). Should the committee(s) fail to act on a bill, the bill is, in effect, killed. NOTE: Since committees are most often comprised of a majority of members from that party holding the majority in the House of Representatives or Senate, that party not in power often loses its ability to get legislation by its members to the floor for a vote. Bills in the House of Representatives can only be released from committee without a proper committee vote if a Discharge Petition is signed by a majority of the House membership (218 members.)
Committees follow a certain set of guidelines when considering a bill that has been referred to them for examination. The first step is the submission of comments about the bill’s merits from effected government agencies. The specific comments solicited by the committee generally include remarks as they pertain to feasibility studies and budgetary impact but an agency whose operational parameters would be impacted by the passage of the bill often include comments relative to feasibility and capability. Providing such comments often creates a strain on the impacted agencies if the time limit imposed by the Speaker of the House is not sufficient for the agency to thoroughly vet the bill. However, more time can be requested by the agency and this request is most often granted.
A bill can be assigned to a subcommittee by the Committee Chairman. This often happens when all the members of the committee do not hold the appropriate skill set or security clearance to examine the full impact of a bill. [NOTE: For a variety of reasons many Committee Members do not hold the proper security clearance that would allow them to be privy to certain data relative to the full committee to which they have been appointed and so the committee must often rely on the recommendations of the subcommittee when advancing a bill. – Editor] Subcommittees report their findings to the full committee and when the full committee votes favorably on a bill, the bill is then “ordered to be reported” to the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader.
A “mark-up” session is held by the full committee once a bill has passed the rigors of the various subcommittees. If substantial amendments are made, the committee can order the introduction of a “clean bill” which will include the proposed amendments. This new bill will be given a new number and will be sent to the floor while the old bill is discarded. The chamber (the full membership of the House of Representatives or Senate), must approve, change, or reject all the committee amendments before conducting a final passage vote.
After the “clean” bill is ordered to be reported, the committee members prepare a written report explaining why they favor the bill and why they wish to see their amendments – if any – adopted. Committee members who oppose a bill sometimes write a dissenting opinion in the report. The report is sent back to the whole chamber and is placed on the calendar.
In the House of Representatives, most bills go to the Rules Committee before reaching the floor. The committee adopts rules that will govern the procedures under which the bill will be considered by the House. A “closed rule” sets strict time limits on debate and forbids the introduction of new amendments.
After a new bill is reported (“ordered to be favorably reported”), the members of the committee to which the bill had been originally referred prepares a written report explaining why they favor the bill and why they wish to see their amendments, if any, adopted. [The first reader to respond to this notice by email will receive a $25 gift card.] Committee members who oppose a bill sometimes write a dissenting opinion in the report. The bill is then sent back to the whole chamber and placed on the calendar.
In the House of Representatives, most bills go to the Rules Committee before being sent to the floor. This committee adopts rules that will govern the procedures under which the bill will be considered by the House. A “closed rule” sets strict time limits on debate and forbids the introduction of amendments. These rules can have a major impact on whether the bill passes. However, the Rules Committee can be bypassed in three ways: 1. Members can move to have the rules suspended (the procedure to “suspend the rules is generally used on non-controversial legislation and requires a 2/3 vote by the Members in order to pass). 2. A discharge petition, which is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee by “discharging” the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution, can be filed. 3. The House can use a Calendar Wednesday procedure. Each Wednesday, a committee may bring “unprivileged” bills to the floor for a vote. An “unprivileged” bill are those that do not raise revenue or, directly or indirectly, make or require an appropriation of money or property. (See Chapter 9 of House Practices.)
The rules governing “Floor Action” on bills considered in the House of Representatives are slightly different than the proceedings used in the Senate. In the House, bills are placed on one of four House Calendars. They are usually placed on the calendars in the order in which they were reported, yet they seldom come to the floor in this same order. Some bills never reach the floor at all; the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader decide what bills will reach the floor and when; the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader often use this gambit as a bargaining chip against their colleagues to gain support on bills they favor. If this kind of arm twisting sounds crude, that’s because it is! (Legislation may also be brought to the floor via a discharge petition, as described above.)
In the Senate, legislation is placed on the Legislative Calendar. (There is also an Executive calendar to deal with treaties and nominations.) Scheduling of legislation is the job of the Majority Leader, and this scheduling gambit is used similarly in the Senate as it is by the Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives. In other words, Senators are compelled to support legislation that the Majority Leader favors in exchange for the Majority Leader’s promotion of other Senators bills. In general though, bills can be brought to the Senate floor whenever a majority of the Senate chooses.
The debate process in the House of Representatives and in the Senate also differs slightly but in very important ways.
In the House, debate is limited by the rules formulated in the Rules Committee. The Committee of the Whole debates and amends the bill but cannot technically pass it.
NOTE: A “Committee of the Whole” is a meeting of a deliberative assembly according to modified procedural rules based on those of a committee. The committee includes all the members of the assembly, except that some officers may be replaced. As with other committees, the activities of a “Committee of the Whole” are limited to considering and making recommendations on matters that the assembly has referred to it; it cannot take up other matters, nor can it vote directly on the assembly’s business. The purpose of the Committee of the Whole is to relax the usual limits on debate, allowing a more open exchange of views without the urgency of a final vote. Debates in a Committee of the Whole may be recorded, but are often excluded from the assembly’s minutes. After debating, the committee submits its conclusions to the assembly (that is, to itself), and business continues according to the normal rules. In legislative assemblies, the committee state of important bills is typically conducted by the Committee of the Whole, whereas lesser bills may be considered in smaller committees.
In the House of Representatives, debate is guided by the Sponsoring Committee and time is divided equally between the proponents and opponents. The Sponsoring Committee decides how much time to allot to each person. Amendments must be germane to the subject of a bill – no riders are allowed. When the established debate time has expired, the bill is ready to be voted on. Prior to the House votes being cast, a quorum call is given to assure there are enough Members present (218) to have a final vote. If a quorum is not present, the House will adjourn or will send the Sergeant at Arms out to round up missing Members.
In the Senate, debate is unlimited unless cloture is invoked. Senators can speak as long as they want and amendments need not be germane – riders are often offered. (Senate amendments and riders may often be referred to as “pork!”) Entire bills can, therefore, be offered as riders to other bills. Unless cloture is invokes, Senators can use a filibuster to defeat a measure by “talking it to death.”
When everyone has had their say, the bill is voted on. If passed, it is then sent to the other chamber unless that chamber already has a similar bill under consideration. If both houses do not pass the bill then it dies. If the House of Representatives and the Senate pass the same bill (i.e. without amendments by either chamber), the bill is then sent to the President. If the House of Representatives and the Senate pass different bills, they are sent to a Conference Committee. NOTE: Most major legislation goes to a Conference Committee.
Members from each House form a Conference Committee and meet to work out any differences between the legislation that was passed by the two houses. This committee is usually made up of senior members who are appointed by the presiding officers of the committee that originally dealt with the bill. The representatives from each house are naturally inclined to work toward keeping the version passed in their chamber. If the Conference Committee reaches a compromise, it prepares a written conference report, which is submitted to each chamber. The conference report must then be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. If both chambers approve the conference report submitted by the Conference Committee, the bill is forwarded to the President.
The bill becomes law if it is signed by the President or, if not signed within 10 days and Congress is in session. If Congress should adjourn before the ten days is up and the President has not signed the bill then it does not become law – this is known as a “Pocket Veto.” If the President vetoes the bill it is sent back to Congress with a note listing the reasons for the veto. The chamber that originated the legislation can attempt to override the veto, however; it requires a 2/3 majority of those present to override the President’s veto. If the veto of the bill is overridden in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill becomes law.
Once a bill is signed by the President (or the President’s veto is overridden as described above), it becomes law and is assigned an official number under the proper Title of the United States Code.
CONTACT YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
|President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20500
Phone: (202) 456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461
|U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room 40 – Suite 2
Washington D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 244-4944
Fax: (202) 228-3398
|U.S. Senator Bob Corker
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3344
Fax: (202) 228-0566
|U.S Representative Dr. Scott DesJarlais
2301 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6831
Fax: (202) 226-5172
|Governor Bill Haslam
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2001
Fax: (615) 532-9711
|Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House
Link above provides all methods of contact.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader
|State Representative Ron Travis
301 Sixth Avenue North
War Memorial Building
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1450
|State Senator Ken Yager
301 Sixth Avenue North
War Memorial Building
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1449
Fax: (615) 253-0237