published Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Bob Corker not worried as FEMA freezes funds

by Chris Carroll
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to the Hamilton Place Rotary Club at Country Place Restaurant on Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to the Hamilton Place Rotary Club at Country Place Restaurant on Wednesday.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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Do senators read the legislation they vote on? And once they're in office, do they ever leave?

Both old-as-time questions were posed to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker during a Wednesday visit with the Hamilton Place Rotary Club.

Ooltewah resident Henry Pate III said congressmen "don't have any idea what's going to happen down the road" while debating lengthy pieces of legislation.

The implication? "They" never read what they're voting on.

"You've got to be a little careful saying 'they.' ... You might say 'most,'" Corker responded, getting chuckles from Rotarians enjoying a lunchtime spread.

Corker said all bills first "come out in Greek" -- his description of legalese. But staffers assigned to specific issues -- he mentioned commerce and energy -- stay up all night long to translate bills "into plain English," Corker said.

"They will never go home -- [they] stay there the entire night, so that when I come in the next morning, we can ... do what's called a section-by-section of the bill to know what each section of that bill says," Corker said. "A lot of people -- more than you think -- read the bills."

Dr. Dennis Stohler, a Chattanooga-based orthopedic surgeon, asked about term limits, quickly adding the question didn't apply to Corker.

The senator rejected concrete limits, saying he preferred a mix of new legislators "on a mission" and "what you might call career politicians" with institutional knowledge.

Corker is running for re-election in 2012.

— Chris Carroll

Despite high-level warnings to the contrary, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said April's tornado victims shouldn't worry about getting long-term disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I don't see any way people are going to be left hanging," he said Wednesday.

FEMA Director Craig Fugate told reporters on Monday that money designated for long-term, post-tornado rebuilding projects in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia would be diverted to more immediate needs for Hurricane Irene victims.

Based upon FEMA's current funding levels -- less than $1 billion and running low, officials said -- any work orders that aren't in the pipeline could be at risk unless Congress allocates additional dollars. Already-approved FEMA projects are safe, Fugate said.

Corker, a Republican who routinely criticizes federal intervention and once said "you should never vote 'no' on spending reductions," took a different approach Wednesday while offering few specifics for victims reeling from the tri-state region's deadliest-ever natural disaster in April.

"As far as how it's dealt with, I don't even know how it will be dealt with yet, but I know that it will," he said. "It may be clumsy, but we'll deal with it."

Corker made his remarks to reporters following an hourlong address to the Hamilton County Rotary Club, where Tennessee's Republican junior senator relayed familiar themes. He railed against the Environmental Protection Agency and labeled the nation's debt troubles "the struggle of this next decade."

During a friendly question-and-answer period, one businessman asked whether America's annual $54 billion in foreign aid could be cut and referred to "these wars" that are expensive to clean up. Left unsaid was whether the businessman meant conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, both initiated by President George W. Bush's Republican administration.

Corker avoided specifics but pushed a congressional "super committee" to slim down foreign aid along with Medicare and other social programs, often rousing a GOP-heavy crowd that included several prominent Hamilton County officeholders such as Commission Chairman Larry Henry, Clerk Bill Knowles and Sessions Court Judge David Bales.

Multiple times Corker prefaced a statement by saying he's never made a partisan comment, but he often compared President Barack Obama's fiscal policies with "throwing a wet blanket" over the nation's economic problems.

Corker's senior colleague, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., used the same rhetoric during a speech to a few dozen Meigs County residents as he discussed ways to upgrade the state's employment situation.

Attracting new businesses such as Amazon and Volkswagen to Tennessee is great, Alexander said, but the most productive job creation comes when established businesses are able to grow.

"We need to make it easier and cheaper for the private sector to make jobs instead of throwing a wet blanket on the economy with regulations," he said.

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GlacierClipper said...

The Senate and House of Representatives would rather cut back on Medicare and other social programs than cut back on the foreign aid. The money spent on foreign aid should be ended. That money could be used more wisely here in the USA for the USA here at home and not for a foreign countries government.

September 1, 2011 at 3:45 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Every time they parrot talking points at us, we know they are not thinking or representing our interests. Remember in November 2012.

September 1, 2011 at 4:50 a.m.
twharr said...

The "business man" who asked the question, that most independents ask, was side-stepped because the partisan Senator Corker didn't want to go back to what got us here in the first place. There was one justified war and one unjustified. The unjustified cost more than the justified and killed more of our brave; but let’s place the blame on Obama. We should start calling him President Blame. I blame you due to Republicans….never mind. It’s to the point where I’m tired of debating and blaming. You win neo-cons/wing-nuts/tea-crazies…you win. I’m moving to Canada.

September 1, 2011 at 6:15 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

The richest 1% of American households earned as much as the bottom 60% combined and possess as much wealth as the bottom 90% (!) and that percentage increases yearly. So tell me, why can't we re-institute the income tax on them and solve this problem rather than pass them more tax breaks?

If you are a 30 to 50 year old male without a college education only 76% of you have a job (in 1967 it was 97%).

So who exactly is Sen. Corker speaking to? I'm surprised he did not say "let them eat cake."

September 1, 2011 at 8:16 a.m.
Momus said...

Rush said don't talk these Obama handouts.

September 1, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.
terrybham said...

Corker represents the people in the business group he was speaking to, he does not represent the working people. The big problem is far too many of the working people vote for him and his kind. Until that changes the only change you will see will be a change for the worse. You get the government you vote for and thus the government you deserve.

September 1, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
EaTn said...

When I first looked at this photo of Corker, my thought was that he was talking about a fishing trip and the big one that got away.

September 1, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
hambone said...

In the picture Little Bobby is throwing up his hands like he doesn't know what to do.

And he doesn't!!!

September 1, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
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