VOL. 10 | NO. 31 | Saturday, July 29, 2017
Alexander, Corker Look Beyond ‘Skinny Repeal’; Cohen Rant Goes Viral
By Bill Dries
Tennessee’s two U.S. senators see the failure of the “skinny repeal” health care bill in the Senate as a missed opportunity.
LAMAR ALEXANDER & BOB CORKER
Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both supported the measure, along with all but three of the rest of the Republican majority in the Senate. But the bill that would have repealed Obamacare without an immediate replacement and which Republicans senators didn’t want the House to approve and send to President Donald Trump fell short of passage with only 49 votes.
Corker and Alexander, in the wake of the Friday, July 28, predawn vote in Washington indicated they and the rest of the Senate will likely move on to other topics.
Corker termed the gap between the repeal and a plan that may or may not have come next was “a reasonable transition period.”
“I sincerely believed that was the best path forward and would have taken us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides would have had incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that would generate broad support and stand the test of time,” he said in a written statement. “It is my hope that we will expeditiously move to a process that will generate an outcome that is better for the American people than what is in place.”
Alexander said the “skinny repeal” was “our best opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
“The Senate’s failure to do this leaves an urgent problem that I am committed to addressing,” he said in a written statement. “Unless Congress acts, many of the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy health insurance in that market – songwriters, farmers, the self-employed – face the real prospect of having zero options to buy insurance in 2018 and 2019.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis sent a letter Friday to the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement expressing concern about raids by ICE agents in Memphis this week. The agency said the raids here and elsewhere targeted those with criminal histories, suspected gang ties or both, including minors.
But Cohen cited press reports that those with no criminal history were among those detained.
“As you know, ICE has limited resources and it is vitally important that it prioritize the use of these resources in a manner designed to keep our communities safe,” Cohen said in the letter to ICE director Thomas D. Homan.
Cohen also asked how ICE determined targets in the raids and how many of those detained had committed a criminal offense beyond illegally entering the country, were suspected of criminal conduct or had no criminal record.
A video of a Cohen rant from a House Judiciary Committee session also went viral on social media channels this week.
In the video, Cohen is reacting to Republicans on the committee calling for an investigation of former President Barack Obama’s influence on the 2016 presidential election instead of an investigation into Russian influence or attempts to influence the election.
“Justice has left the room. Common sense has left the room,” Cohen said in the committee remarks in which he repeatedly refused to yield to Republican lawmakers. “Y’all get it totally wrong. When Americans get involved in the election, it’s OK. When Russia gets involved, we need to be united and be against that. … Trump doesn’t want to drain the swamp. He is the swamp. And the fact is this country is being run into the ground.”