As the race in Tennessee’s second Congressional district heats up, Democratic candidate Renee Hoyos and Republican incumbent Tim Burchett are divided on a host of issues, not least the handling of COVID-19.
“The situation we are in right now is no joke,” Hoyos said in a phone interview. “I don’t think that [Tim] looks across the district at his constituents and then votes accordingly.”
“[Burchett] has voted against a bunch of bipartisan bills, things that Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump agreed on,” Hoyos said.
Hoyos is referring to Burchett’s vote against the Veteran House Act of 2020, which was to provide housing support for about 1,000 chronically homeless veterans, and Burchett’s subsequent vote against the ‘Families First’ Coronavirus Response Bill in March.
Burchett said the legislation had flaws. “As far as the veterans bill goes, it allowed folks with less than honorable discharge to go to the front of the line for housing,” he said in an interview. The Congressman explained that someone who gets released from the military could potentially get housing assistance ahead of someone with honorable service. The bill passed 362-31.
“She’s either misrepresenting the facts, or she doesn’t know enough to read the bill to understand the details of it,” he said of his opponent.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and he voted against free COVID testing and paid sick leave,” Hoyos said. The law states that covered employees can still receive pay from certain employers if those workers have to miss work due to quarantine or caring for those in isolation. It also allows for more coronavirus testing and other protections in response to the pandemic. The bill passed 363-40.
Hoyos also criticized Burchett’s initial response to the pandemic. “He’s enriched himself as a Congressman,” she said.
Hoyos is referring to Burchett’s sale of Denny’s stock on Feb. 12, a week after a closed-door briefing of Congress by the Trump administration on the status of COVID.
“The whole thing is a lie,” Burchett responded. “I don’t know what secret meeting they’re talking about. The president, about a month prior to that, even mentioned the COVID virus, so it wasn’t any secret.” The Congressman said his investment history during that time is documented. “I sold stock and I reinvested. And I reported it,” Burchett said. “I had no preferential information and I didn’t do anything illegal. And I reported it myself, so there’s just nothing there.”
Public records show that Denny’s stock was valued at about $20 a share when Burchett sold it; the stock subsequently dropped to about $8 a share.
Hoyos emphasized the importance of recognizing the needs within a district and voting accordingly. “And he has not voted that way,” Hoyos said.“He’ll say there’s no money … He doesn’t want to spend any money.”
Burchett said his votes are related to the bills’ contents. “Can’t afford it,” he said. “They’re messaging bills. The title is a good thing, but the contents are not. [Hoyos] is leaving out amendments that they’ve tacked on.”
This is the second time the two candidates are running for the seat.
Early voting ends tomorrow. It is the last week for Tennesseans to vote before Election Day.