Tennessee’s U.S. representative for the 7th congressional district Marsha Blackburn spoke to Belmont students on Friday about her legislation and agenda upon her re-election.
Blackburn served as Vice Chair for the House Energy and Commerce Committee during the 113th Congress as well as other subcommittees including Communications and Technology, Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Health and Oversight. The congresswoman also founded and serves as chair of the Congressional Songwriters Caucus and was awarded a Congressional Grammy.
Blackburn’s connections to Belmont University go back 40 years to when she met her husband in the Massey basement. Known for her efforts to support the rights of songwriters and recorders, Blackburn came to Belmont to open up a dialogue between her and the students about issues ranging from the music industry to the domestic and international topics currently in debate.
Her biggest concern was the national security at all levels including the border, workplace, retirement and abroad. People’s worry about their security during times of crisis led to the driving force behind the overwhelming election of Republicans on Election Day, Blackburn said.
“The administration seemed completely unprepared to deal with the unexpected,” said Blackburn referring to the handling of both ISIS and Ebola abroad.
Blackburn discussed her frustration with the current deadlock in Congress. Although she pushes for bipartisan participation, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid currently has 387 bills sitting on his desk and 98 percent of those bills were bipartisan efforts, she said.
“I think Harry Reid has been trying to set the Guinness Book of World Records for ineffectiveness as the leader of the Chamber,” Blackburn said.
She expected to have a busy lame-duck season trying to get Reid to push the bills forward.
Blackburn continued to emphasize her conservative viewpoints of cutting back on spending to decrease national debt as well as secure the border to limit immigration.
Blackburn’s goals for this session in the House are to make changes in the tax code and repeal an agenda where federal agencies use mandates that take away power from small business.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently released 24,000 pages of new rules to U.S. businesses, and Blackburn said she hopes to pass legislation in support of small business that removes excessive federal control.
Internationally, Blackburn deals with Ft. Campbell and its interactions abroad as the federal government deployed many troops from the base to Africa to fight against the Ebola disease by building hospitals and by training staff. The congresswoman has oversight and works along with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to address the care and safety in labs dealing with both Ebola and EV68. Blackburn proposed a travel ban and expressed the need for quarantine centers in the African nations most heavily affected by the disease before allowing anyone to travel by plane.
“A lot of the members of the military community are not happy about the mission United Assistance because this was supposed to be there dwell time, and they are seeing several rotations in and out of Iraq, Dubai and Afghanistan,” Blackburn said.
As for the ISIS problem in Iraq and in Syria, Blackburn informed students that 1600 troops are stationed in Iraq, and the numbers will continue to increase. Blackburn suggested that the military should work alongside and help train the Peshmerga to contain ISIS.
“The president wanted to go from 60,000 troops to zero in Iraq and he was warned not to do this, because you’re going to leave a void, and the Iraqi army cannot handle this on their own,” Blackburn said. “To totally vacate the playing field in Iraq left that void, and Al Qaeda and their splinter groups filled that void.”
The congresswoman invited all Belmont students to follow her on social media to further continue an open conversation on the topics discussed in the convocation.
This article was written by Brooklyn Penn.