Tim Burchett has lost his way

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Sometimes I feel sorry for U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett. He seems to have less fun the higher he rises, and he for sure is less effective.


Burchett was masterful in the state legislature, especially in the Senate. He was younger than most senators and deferential toward their ways. When Lt. Gov. John Wilder said, “The Senate is the Senate,” Tim actually knew what he meant.

With collaborative leadership from Wilder and Republican Senate Leader Ben Atchley, senators argued among themselves, but rarely on straight party lines. And Burchett got along with pretty much everyone. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen presided at Tim’s first wedding.

Burchett came home and spent eight years as Knox County’s mayor. I can’t recall a single partisan fight. He collaborated with the city to build Tank Strickland Park in East Knoxville – a county park inside the city, named for a Democrat, the first Black Knoxvillian to chair the county commission.

So, that’s why it was disconcerting to get a press release like this one, explaining his vote against the infrastructure bill:

“Speaker Pelosi is no longer fit to run the House of Representatives after wasting hours of valuable floor time this week. Instead of scheduling votes to demagnetize our southern border or bring back American energy independence, Pelosi brought up this sloppy and expensive infrastructure measure. The only thing that is bipartisan about this bill is the name. It completely ignores infrastructure needs in purple and red states, but finances woke environmental priorities in big Democrat cities. Congress missed a real opportunity to deliver results to the entire country, and I voted against this fraudulent legislation that treats Tennessee like flyover country.”

Who wrote these words and what did they do with Tim Burchett?

Bridges, roads and waterways are not partisan. The Tim Burchett who was so effective in Nashville has lost his way in Washington.

But wait. There’s more. The man known for getting along with his colleagues was proud when Vanity Fair profiled U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a December 2020 story by Michelle Ruiz. Tim Burchett of Knoxville was the only Republican quoted.

“When I hear she gets threats, I always pray for her,” says Tim Burchett, Republican from Tennessee, who affectionately calls her ‘Cortez.’ … “I don’t agree with a doggone thing she says,” Burchett says, “but I respect her right to represent her constituents just as much as she respects mine.”

This Wednesday (11/17/21) the House voted on a resolution to censure Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar who had tweeted an anime cartoon showing him stabbing President Joe Biden and killing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

In a climate of anger and violence, members of Congress must not signal killing a colleague. This resolution to censure Gosar should have passed unanimously. Instead, it passed 223-207, basically on party lines. Tim Burchett voted nay. Hope he’s still praying.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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