“The reason I am running is the Senate is dysfunctional,” Blackburn said in a meeting with editorial board members of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press. “I’m going to the Senate as a force for solid conservative positive change to have them take action on the things Tennesseans want them to take action on. … I think before the August work period began, the Senate was sitting on right at 600 pieces of legislation — most of them bipartisan — that had come out of the House and had gone to the Senate, and the Senate had not taken action.”
With the passing of Sen. John McCain, Republicans only have a 50-49 majority in the Senate.
Blackburn, a congresswoman in a general election battle with Democrat Phil Bredesen for the seat occupied by retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker, also addressed these questions:
What makes the Senate dysfunctional?
“One is the filibuster rule. When it comes to the executive calendar, I think every president deserves to have their cabinet and nominees, and our nation deserves to have our ambassadors confirmed and in place. When it comes to issues of the budget, we are constitutionally required to fund the government. The Senate is constitutionally required to provide advice and consent. … Why would the Senate pass a rule that would keep them from their constitutional duty? … One thing I would do is if they raise their hand, make them go to the (Senate) floor and filibuster. They can start the clock for 30 hours and never go to the floor.”
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell runs for re-election, would you vote for him?
“I’m going to vote for whoever the Republicans put up for the majority leader. … I am the Republican nominee and I will support the Republican majority leader.”
Is there any way the tax cuts could be a little more for the average worker?
“For most Tennessee families, they’re seeing almost $2,000 extra in their savings from the tax cuts. That is significant. And, yes, making them permanent … I would absolutely love to lower those marginal rates again. I think that would be great.”
Do you have any concerns about the national debt?
“One of the things we know is if you are going to address the debt, which is something I’ve tried to do every year of my service whether I was in the state Senate or in Congress … you have to grow the economy and 4.2 percent GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is a really good thing. You also have to cut spending. Growing the economy is growing revenue. … One of the things I’ve done to address that is every year, I offer legislation that is a 1 percent, 2 percent or 5 percent across-the-board cut. … When President George W. Bush left office, we had right at $10 trillion in debt. That was too much for me. And every time I saw him, I would talk about out of control spending and the debt needing to get under control. … After President Obama left office, we’re at $20 trillion. I am for a balanced budget amendment that balances the budget without new taxes.”
What do you think about what Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is going through as he works to be confirmed?
“I’ve not had the opportunity to watch a lot of the hearings. I think the protests in the hearing room are very unfortunate. Judge Kavanaugh is highly qualified. He is, as we saw in the introductory statements, there were Democrats and Republicans who spoke on his behalf, spoke to his character and spoke to his respect on the rule of law and the Constitution. He is a very well qualified jurist, and I would hope they finish the hearings and he is soon confirmed to the court.”
Tennessee has a history of sending senators to Washington who were leaders. Can you lay down your partisanship to do what’s best for the country?
“I have a pretty good record at being able to challenge the status quo, if you will, and working with Tennesseans. The state income tax battle is a perfect example. I stepped forward to lead that fight and Tennesseans from every corner of the state, from all 95 counties, joined with me working to push against that. The reason I did that because it was something good for the state and it was the right thing to do. … There are five things I work to defend: faith, family, freedom, hope and opportunity.”