Sen. Marsha Blackburn Speaks to Vanderbilt College Republicans


Patrick Tolan, Contributor

Image Credit: “Marsha Blackburn” (unmodified) by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On the evening of Tuesday, March 15, Vanderbilt College Republicans (VCR) hosted United States Senator Marsha Blackburn (R), who spoke to a full room of students. Blackburn, the first female Senator from Tennessee, joined the organization via Zoom and spoke about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, countering Russia and China, and the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, in addition to answering questions submitted by VCR members prior to the event.

Senator Blackburn began the evening by speaking about her service as a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Blackburn described the international landscape as a confrontation between the United States and the new “axis of evil”: Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. She discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict in great detail, emphasizing the failures of the Biden administration to adequately support Ukraine and the importance of stopping Russia and its “thug” leader, Vladimir Putin. Blackburn advocated for increased lethal and humanitarian aid to Ukraine to combat Russian aggression.

As a corollary to her comments on Russia, Blackburn emphasized the importance of establishing the United States as an energy leader and net exporter. After asserting that Americans are reliant on oil imports from Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, Blackburn argued for increased domestic oil and natural gas production to end reliance on the “axis”. Blackburn continued to criticize the halt of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial cross-country oil pipeline whose construction permits were revoked by President Biden in January of 2021 in response to demands from environmentalists and Native Americans. She maintained that its continuation is necessary to develop American energy security.

Additionally, Blackburn discussed the upcoming confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would be questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, March 21. The Senator said that this hearing will be civil and respectful, but that because of the lifetime tenure afforded to federal judges, it is important to consider all of Judge Jackson’s decisions on the federal bench and her background as a public defender.

After speaking about her committee work, Senator Blackburn answered questions submitted by members of Vanderbilt College Republicans. One student asked Blackburn for her thoughts on the role of Bitcoin in the future economy. Blackburn responded saying that she is interested in studying Bitcoin more to understand the effects of a currency not backed by the government, adding that she is considering legislation that would enumerate fiduciary responsibilities for Bitcoin sales. Blackburn continued to speak about technology regulation, discussing the Open App Markets Act, a bill that would prohibit app stores, such as those of Apple or Google, from requiring app developers to use the app store’s payment processing and enable developers to offer their apps at different prices elsewhere. She argued that this monopoly harmed app developers and users by decreasing developer autonomy and inflating prices faced by consumers.

To conclude, Blackburn offered career advice for  Vanderbilt students interested in pursuing public office. She first said that students should take the time to educate themselves on the election rules and how to successfully run a campaign. Blackburn recommended that students complete an internship or volunteer for either a campaign or elected official to gain exposure and understand the campaign landscape. Lastly, and most importantly, Blackburn charged the audience with establishing successful careers prior to running for office, as this would demonstrate their ability to work hard and do a good job if elected to office.