U.S. House candidate Wamp launches RV tour in Third District

Weston Wamp RV

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, has launched an RV tour of East Tennessee’s Third District. The campaign visited Oak Ridge on Friday morning.

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, has launched an RV tour of East Tennessee’s Third District. The campaign stopped in Oak Ridge on Friday, the fifth day of the tour.

The recreational vehicle—its exterior painted with red, white, and blue campaign slogans, and blue and green mountain vistas—will serve as a rolling campaign headquarters, hotel, and billboard, Wamp said during a Friday morning stop at Roane State Community College.

“I call it our seven-ton commitment to bringing Congress home,” Wamp said. “I hope that it ends up being iconic.”

The RV will make stops at events ranging from baseball games to pancake breakfasts in cities from Athens and Sweetwater in the south to Oneida and Oliver Springs in the north. The campaign will spend three nights a week on the road, generally staying outside of the Chattanooga area, where Wamp lives. The goal is to stay in virtually every incorporated town before the Aug. 7 primary. [Read more...]

Weston Wamp announces congressional campaign leadership

Weston Wamp

Weston Wamp

Weston Wamp, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Tennessee’s Third District, announced the first members of his campaign staff and leadership team this week.

The group includes three notable Chattanooga entrepreneurs as well as a former staffer for the incumbent, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, and a 25-year veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department, a press release said.

“I’m honored that people of this caliber have joined my campaign for Congress,” Wamp said. “Our campaign team spans three generations, but shares a passion for seeing Washington work to serve the people again. The Congress does not have to be an embarrassment to our country. We deserve much better representation, and with this team I believe we are on our way to a winning campaign and an opportunity to set a higher standard than the current congressman.” [Read more...]

House spending bill avoids government shutdown, provides fiscal certainty, Fleischmann says

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill funding the federal government for 2014, avoiding government shutdowns for the rest of the fiscal year and providing some fiscal certainty for the weak economic recovery, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

“For too long Congress has jumped from crisis to crisis, and that is neither good for the economy nor the American people,” said Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge. “The bill, which passed the House today with bipartisan support, provides zero new funding for Obamacare, protects all current pro-life policies, and provides real fiscal oversight. This bill was a compromise and is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction and holds the line on spending priorities.”

The vote for the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which will fund the government through October, was 359-67, with 64 Republicans and three Democrats opposed in the Republican-led House. The legislation now goes to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, and it is expected to pass it easily this week. [Read more...]

House-passed budget could avoid second shutdown; Senate may vote this week

Y-12 National Security Complex Sign

A bipartisan budget bill being considered in Congress could avoid a second government shutdown and provide relief to federal employees and government contractors in Oak Ridge, including at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which was prepared to furlough up to 3,600 workers during the first shutdown in October.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a budget bill that could avoid a second government shutdown in mid-January, a development that will likely offer some relief to federal employees and government contractors in Oak Ridge—and to the businesses that support them.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, said he supported the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 in the House on Thursday.

“Tonight, the House took a modest step toward reforming spending and setting our government on a more stable path,” said Fleischmann, a second-term congressman whose district includes Oak Ridge.

But the bill still has to pass the deeply divided Senate, which is preparing to take up the budget bill this week. The Washington Post reported that Democrats are still trying to come up with the 60 votes necessary to break a GOP-led filibuster in the Senate. [Read more...]

Passed in House, Manhattan Project Park amendment falls short in Senate

K-25 Aerial

Now mostly demolished, the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building is pictured above. The site could be included in a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

The legislation to create a Manhattan Project National Park that would include Oak Ridge has fallen short in the U.S. Senate, but the representative from Washington state who wrote the House amendment vowed to press ahead next year.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. But it was not included in the final text of the defense bill released late Tuesday night, said U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican who wrote the amendment.

Besides Oak Ridge, the park would include Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M. The three cities played key roles in the Manhattan Project, a top-secret program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.

“I’m disappointed, but not deterred,” said Hastings, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. “To all the advocates for this park: You’ve given great energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to this effort to date, and I know that will continue until our goal is accomplished, which I am confident it will ultimately be.” [Read more...]

Alexander replaces chief of staff after child porn raid at former aide’s home

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

The former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been taken off the payroll following a child pornography raid at the former aide’s home, and the Republican senator from Tennessee has already named a new chief of staff.

David Cleary, who has worked for Alexander for eight years, is the new chief of staff, Alexander said in a Wednesday evening press release. The senator said Cleary is well-prepared for the position.

Earlier Wednesday, Alexander said the Senate legal counsel’s office told him that law enforcement agents were searching the home of Ryan Loskarn, 35, who had been the senator’s chief of staff in his Washington, D.C., office. The search was related to child pornography allegations, Alexander said.

“I am stunned, surprised, and disappointed by what I have learned,” the senator said. [Read more...]

Atomic Heritage still hopeful that Manhattan Project Park legislation will pass

K-25 Building Aerial View

Now mostly demolished, the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building is pictured above. The site could be included in a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

Note: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

A bill to create a Manhattan Project National Park that would include Oak Ridge has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but now it’s tied up in the Senate.

Still, the nonprofit Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., remains hopeful that the legislation will pass.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act was included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House passed in June.

The Senate is now negotiating the procedure for considering 507 amendments that have been offered to that legislation, the Atomic Heritage Foundation said in a Tuesday e-mail. [Read more...]

Congressman: House votes to fully fund Y-12 during government shutdown

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

Note: This story was last updated at 5:22 p.m.

The federal government remains shut down over a funding dispute, but the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday morning that would fully fund the Y-12 National Security Complex and other security functions, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, called it a matter of national security. Y-12 is one of the nation’s nuclear weapons plants, but it started an “orderly shutdown” on Monday because Congress has failed to pass a spending bill in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

Fleischmann expressed concern about the shutdown in a speech on the House floor. [Read more...]

House passes Manhattan Project national park bill that would include Oak Ridge

X-10 Graphite Reactor

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park would include the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Submitted photo)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday took an essential step toward establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that could include Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash., a nonprofit organization said.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act was included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House passed Friday, the Atomic Heritage Foundation said in an e-mail.

“The new national park will be the first to recognize the top-secret project in World War II that changed the course of world history, science, and society,” the foundation said. [Read more...]

Alexander, Corker support bill allowing states to collect sales tax on online purchases

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senator Bob Corker

Bob Corker

The U.S. Senate on Monday approved legislation to allow states to collect sales taxes on items sold online or through catalogs, and senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker on Monday said they supported the bill.

Known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, the legislation passed the Senate in a 69-27 vote. A Tennessee Republican, Alexander was a lead co-sponsor of the 11-page bill.

It still has to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, where antitax forces have vowed to kill it, according to the New York Times. [Read more...]

House committee passes bill to set up Manhattan Project National Park

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include sites in Oak Ridge and Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M.

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.

The legislation stalled in the last session of Congress, but it has been reintroduced this session. [Read more...]

State Democratic Party chair to speak at chili supper Thursday

Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, will be guest speaker at a Thursday meeting of the Anderson County Democratic Party.

It’s the party’s annual chili supper and potluck, and it starts at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Claxton Elementary School Cafeteria. [Read more...]