Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed TN-5 Republican candidate Beth Harwell to the newsmaker line to discuss her commitment, if elected, to a maximum 6-year term and slowly dismantling the Department of Education, bringing money back to local governments in the state.
Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line with a new breaking story. Former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Good morning, Beth.
Harwell: Good morning. Good to be with you all this morning.
Leahy: So you have just released a statement that you have endorsed the U.S. term limits amendment and you pledge to serve if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a maximum of three terms. Tell us about that.
Harwell: Right. I served in the Tennessee Legislature, which is indeed a citizen legislature. It’s a part-time job. You can’t make a living serving in the state legislature, which means you have to find another job.
And I’ve always been a teacher, and I think that’s critical. People that serve in the legislature in Tennessee don’t visit their districts. They live in their districts and they live under the laws that they pass for everyone else.
That’s not the case in Washington, D.C. And that’s why I’m committed to serving for just six years. In eight years, we were able to accomplish great things for the state of Tennessee as Speaker. And I will serve six years and vote the will of the people and then come back home.
Leahy: How did you come to this decision to make this announcement that you’re just going to serve three terms, if elected, you’re a candidate for the Republican nomination to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in the new 5th Congressional District, which covers the lower third of Davidson County, the western half of Wilson, the eastern half of Williamson County, all of Marshall, all of Maury, and all of Lewis County. How did you come to this decision?
Harwell: I’ve always felt that this was the correct thing to do to limit your time and service. I held back for many years because I was fearful that it would make the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., more powerful. And we certainly don’t want that.
But I also think that it incentivizes us to go up there and do the right thing and do it quickly because we don’t as a nation have much more time in which we can allow elected officials in Washington to just not get the job done. So I think this is the right time to make a pledge such as this.
Leahy: Now, what’s it been like for you out on the campaign trail? We saw each other at the Wilson County Trump Day Dinner on Thursday.
There are 11 candidates there. You were one of the 11. You got to speak there. What are you seeing out on the campaign trail?
Harwell: Well, people are interested in this. I think, just as I’ve heard on your radio show this morning, I think people also are concerned with getting the May election over with before they start concentrating on what will be the August election.
But like today, I will spend my day in Lewis County and have a lot of good folks taking me around Lewis County to meet and greet and get to know people a little bit better. People are concerned about the direction of our nation.
They are very concerned with the high cost of living right now. They’re concerned with protecting our borders and I think what I hear consistently is that they feel that the fiscal insanity that they see in Washington, D.C. has got to come to an end.
Leahy: What would be the very first bill that you would introduce if you were to be elected to serve in Congress and would be sworn in in January of 2023?
Harwell: Something that’s been a passion of mine for some time now is the whole issue of education, which is such a critical thing for our nation going forward.
I know I can’t completely eliminate the U.S. Department of Education at least as a freshman at first blush. But I think I could begin to reduce the size of it and return that money back to state and local governments where it can be more efficiently and effectively spent.
Leahy: It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you introduced a bill to entirely abolish the Department of Education.
Harwell: It would be my ultimate goal. You’re right about that, and I certainly understand how the process works, and I might very well do that and take what I can get, because I do think the U.S. Department of Education is bloated and is not doing anything to help our children.
Leahy: It’s interesting the way that you phrase that because you could either go in and say, let’s abolish it entirely. That bill would probably not get a lot of traction the first term or, I guess you’re taking a more incremental approach by saying let’s reduce its footprint and let’s give that money back to the state. Is that your approach on that one?
Harwell: That is correct. I’m realistic about this. I know that they administer the Pell Grants and some other things at the federal level, but slowly we can return those responsibilities back to the state governments or the local governments, as opposed to having the federal bureaucrats who, by the way, never teach a single child how to read or write.
Leahy: That’s a very true statement.
Listen to the interview:
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