Monday, August 29, 2005

Ford To Speak On Energy Bill, Other Issues

U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., is scheduled to appear in the Shiloh Room Monday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. to discuss the issues the legislative body will be facing this session and to participate in a meet and greet with the student body.

“One of our goals this year is to keep students up to date with Congress and to keep feeding them information, so we’re very excited to already have this opportunity at the beginning of school,” Nathan Zipper, director of governmental affairs for the Student Government Association, said. “We are lucky to be a big state university where congressmen want to come meet students.”

Entering his sixth term, the congressman said his plan to visit every college in the state between now and next fall is not politically motivated. He merely wants to understand the challenges that face the population.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with students and practicing with the football team,” Ford said. “I’ll be in Knoxville as a congressman and a fan, not as a candidate.

“I won’t be saying, ‘Vote for me for U.S. Senate,’ explicitly,” but I’ll be saying ‘these are things I would like to do in the U.S. Senate as well,’” he said in regard to his candidacy for the seat U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is expected to leave vacant next year.

When Congress reconvenes next Tuesday, Ford expects the legislating body to pick up where it left off before the summer, voting on a budget and focusing on inevitable energy bills.

“The energy bill that Congress has already passed does not go far enough,” the Democrat from Memphis, said.

“We need to work more with automakers to install caps.

“One of the great tragedies of 9/11 is that we import more oil and pay more for it than we did on Sept. 10 of that year. We essentially subsidized our attackers with more oil. This is something our country has to grapple with.”

The 35-year-old Ford makes it clear that he loves his family, but he does hope people are able to differentiate between him and the name that has not always been associated with the most positive chapters in Tennessee politics.

“I don’t believe people judge me or hold me accountable for anything other than me,” he said. “I wish they (my family) were all perfect. It would make everything easier, but I just hope people will base their opinion on me, who I am and what I stand for.”

The young politician readily admits that he does not have all the answers to today’s problems and is eager to hear students’ ideas.

“I’ve been looking at the tuition increases at The University of Tennessee over the past five years,” Ford said. “I’m interested to know what it has meant to students and how they have met the challenge to pay for their educations.”

Zipper believes much is to be learned from the congressman’s visit and readily encourages all members of the campus community to participate in this unique experience.

“I think students will be able to learn a lot from the event,” the junior in sport management said. “Being aware of what’s going on in always helpful. Not a lot of people get to do this.”

From: The Daily Beacon

Related: Read Congressman Ford's energy plan here!

(Changed from original title "Ford To Speak On Energy Bill, Other Legislative Issues" due to space)