Alexander positioned to influence Capitol
Sen. Lamar Alexander hit the ground running with the opening of the 113th Congress. Once again, the Maryville native, who recently announced he will stand for re-election, is positioning himself to influence legislation important to Blount County, Tennessee and the nation.
He’s been named to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee — a panel that gives him a say in wide range of areas critical to the economy and environment.
Legislation that emerges from the committee concerns energy resources and development, including regulation, conservation, strategic petroleum reserves and appliance standards; nuclear energy; Indian affairs; public lands and their renewable resources; surface mining, Federal coal, oil, and gas, other mineral leasing; territories and insular possessions; and water resources.
Significant stuff, and there’s more. Alexander is projected to stay on as the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. The committee is the largest in the U.S. Senate. It encompasses 12 subcommittees that draft legislation allocating federal funds to numerous government agencies, departments and organizations.
East Tennesseans will be reassured to know Alexander is in position to support Oak Ridge National Laboratory and to push for reconstruction of Chickamauga Lock.
Beyond that Alexander is expected to be elected as the GOP’s ranking member on the committee governing health, education, labor and pension issues. The Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee handles a high volume of legislation, and in terms of jurisdiction over the nation’s economy, is among the largest committees.
The HELP committee oversees the health-care industry — an industry for which Tennessee has proven a hub of entrepreneurial activity — as well as education, which this Congress will be of particular importance as it must address the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law. Alexander has long championed and defended right-to-work laws, and this committee oversees all labor legislation.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, on the House floor during a Joint Session of Congress Friday, as ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee Alexander joined the Senate rules chairman and their House counterparts to perform the constitutionally mandated tallying of the Electoral College votes.
The procedure “officially” re-elected President Obama to his second term and affirmed for the record “the great state of Tennessee” cast 11 electoral votes for Mitt Romney for president and 11 for Paul Ryan for vice president.
The ritual was a formality, but it was another indication Alexander has earned the respect and trust of his colleagues — and influence for the state of Tennessee.