Sens. Alexander, McConnell and Paul Defend the "Freedom to Fish"

Posted on April 17, 2013

Senator Rand Paul introduces Alexander at the "Freedom to Fish" rally:

“You may ask why I’m wearing this plaid shirt today. Because I thought when you appeared with Senator Alexander, you were supposed to wear a plaid shirt! And then I show up and Senator Alexander isn’t wearing his plaid shirt. But I will tell you, from getting to know Senator Alexander over the past year or two, one thing he’s an expert in and good at is: He will get something done on this. He already has passed it one time; it doesn’t have the force of law yet, but we got it passed largely because he goes around, he talks to everybody, and nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander. And so it is my pleasure to introduce the guy who I think will help get this done for us, Senator Lamar Alexander.”

Senator Alexander's remarks at the "Freedom to Fish" rally at Lake Barkley Dam in Kentucky:

“Thanks, Rand. I want to thank all of the Kentuckians for letting me come across the border. That’s good of you to do.

“I can’t think of anybody else I would rather have on my side than Rand Paul, [Kentucky Congressman] Ed Whitfield and Mitch McConnell. That’s a great start.

“In truth, I’m here to be on your side. You’ve got some dams on the Cumberland River in Kentucky, but we’ve got more. We’ve got six of the 10 dams on the Cumberland River in Tennessee, and we owe Ed Whitfield and the county judge [Lyon County Judge Executive] Wade White [of Kentucky] for calling this to our attention and getting this started. And I’m delighted that Senator Corker and I have an opportunity to work with Senator McConnell, the leader of the Senate – well, we hope the whole Senate one of these days before too long – and Rand Paul, who is about as effective on the rights of Americans as anybody I know anywhere, so thank you very much. 

“Now, we’re here today to stand up for the fishermen of Tennessee, of Kentucky, and of the United States of America. We’re here today to stand up for the freedom to fish on these ten dams. 

“We’ve been doing that ever since the dams have been built – generations of fishermen have been fishing below these dams. Everybody knows you’re not supposed to be out there when the water is like that. We have enough sense to know that. But that’s 20 percent of the time below the 10 dams on the Cumberland River – those are the Corps of Engineers’ statistics. 

“What the Corps says is they want to put barricades there 100 percent of the time. That’s like putting the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time. The track’s not dangerous if the train’s not coming, and fishing isn’t dangerous if the water isn’t coming through the dam. 

“We prize our freedom in this country. We outdoorsmen prize our opportunity to exercise some personal responsibility and evaluate the risk. That’s why we’re outdoors. We don’t want a government that’s strong enough to make our lives risk-free. We can do that for ourselves.

“Mitch McConnell was talking about fishing with his father. They were probably on a TVA dam; they were probably below a TVA dam when they did that fishing. TVA has dams on the Tennessee River – their dams make this one look little. That river makes this one look small. [TVA doesn’t] have any plans to put up barricades. Now, if TVA doesn’t, why does the Corps of Engineers insist on it?

“I can see that the people of Kentucky have spoken. They have three of the finest spokesmen I know anywhere. The people of Tennessee have spoken, too. There are 900,000 people in Tennessee who bought fishing licenses last year. So far as I can tell, about every one of them has fished below the dam tailwaters based on the mail that I’m getting in Tennessee. So the people have spoken. The federal delegation has spoken. The county judges have spoken. You have spoken. The United States Senate has spoken.

“We hope the Corps of Engineers will listen and use some common sense. The state of Tennessee and Kentucky Wildlife agencies have said, ‘Look, we’ll work with you. We’ll make a plan. We’ll use our resources to make it safer out here when the water is coming through the dam.’ And they’re getting no answer on that. Well, if they’re getting no answer from the Corps, we’re ready to pass the ‘Freedom to Fish Act’ and stand up for the fishermen of Kentucky, Tennessee and this country.”