Tennessee’s current and prospective elected officials reacted Monday to U.S. President Donald Trump firing the chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority for hiring foreign workers.
U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi, in an emailed statement, said Trump was right to do so.
“Our public utilities do not need overpaid bureaucrats and executives,” Sethi said.
“I am grateful to see the President take these steps because it will hopefully help TVA move in the right direction- towards transparency and accountability.”
Sethi’s opponent for the Aug. 6 GOP primary, Bill Hagerty, said in a press release that “Trump is keeping his promise to drain the swamp by firing two Tennessee Valley Authority board members.”
“President Donald Trump is right, we can’t outsource American jobs at a time when our unemployment rate is higher than ever,” Hagerty said.
“Thanks to Communist China, we are in the midst of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. President Trump and his Administration have taken unprecedented steps to keep people employed during this difficult period and it flies in the face of those efforts when TVA decides to outsource Tennessee jobs at this time.”
The man both candidates wish to replace, the retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), addressed the matter in a separate press release.
“TVA may have shown poor judgment hiring foreign companies during a pandemic, but, on most counts, it does a very good job of producing large amounts of low-cost, reliable electricity. Residential electric rates are among the 25 percent lowest in the country, and industrial rates are among the lowest 10 percent. TVA’s debt is the lowest in 30 years, its pension fund is stronger and TVA leads the country in new nuclear power plants,” Alexander said.
“According to TVA, the annual total compensation of TVA’s CEO is in the bottom fourth of what the CEOs of other big utilities earn and is set strictly according to requirements of federal law. TVA receives no federal tax dollars.”
The Tennessee Star contacted U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN-07) for comment, but staff for neither official returned our messages before press time.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he was formally removing chair Skip Thompson and another member of the board, and he threatened to remove other board members if they continued to hire foreign labor. Thompson was appointed to the post by Trump.
The TVA is a federally owned corporation created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hard hit by the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
He also said the TVA board must immediately hire a new chief executive officer who “puts the interests of Americans first.”
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