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Haslam: ‘Major Problem’ With Senate Nominees Bill

A bill to give Tennessee lawmakers the power to decide the nominees for the state’s U.S. Senate seats was withdrawn Tuesday until next year after Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said he had a “major problem” with the proposal.

The governor told reporters he objects to eliminating primary elections to decide Republican and Democratic nominees for the U.S. Senate, and said he would “very strongly” consider a veto of the measure if it was passed by the Legislature.

“I have a major problem with that in the sense that we’re going to take the selection of a United States senator out of the hands of the people of Tennessee and have a few folks decide who that should be,” Haslam said. “That just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, announced a short time later in a House committee that he wanted to delay consideration of the bill until next year. The panel approved the motion without debate.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, had previously put a full Senate vote on the measure on hold until the final calendar of the year. He has said the bill is an effort to return to the system closer to the direct appointments that were in place before the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913.

The bill wouldn’t take effect until after the 2014 elections, meaning it wouldn’t apply to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s re-election bid next year, but could affect fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker‘s next campaign.

Corker told reporters in Nashville he wouldn’t take a position on the bill, but said Tennessee voters like the ability to have a say in the nominees. He also said the contested Republican primary in 2006 was a good learning experience for him.

“Going through that process really does make you a better candidate and I think it causes people to get to know you,” Corker said. “Our race in 2006 was a national race that the whole country watched and I think it was important for me anyway to have gone through that process.

Knox News

17th Amendment undermined founders’ idea of federal republic

James Madison
Federalist No. 62
1788

It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and giving to the state government such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems.

As can be seen, it was this division of powers which was the major component within our system of checks and balances — the ability of state governments to defend against the accumulation of federal power through use of their agents, their senators.
Senators were to be state ambassadors to the federal government, not working under their own autonomy, but rather carrying out the wishes of their state governments who appointed them and could also replace them. Altering senators to publicly elective officials essentially freed them from state authority, transforming them into “free agents” who now do as they see fit.
This is a dangerous game that we play, for the founders placed a huge amount of power in the hands of the Senate. It is the Senate which has the final say on Supreme Court justices, federal judges, Cabinet appointees, department heads, commissioned military officers and all budgetary items. All this authority was originally intended for the state governments to wield via their senators.
After the 17th Amendment, any and all influence of the states has been completely stripped away from the federal system. Now, all power is vested exclusively in federal hands. How risky is that?

James Madison
Federalist No. 48
1788

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, or many, or whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”