The High Drama Continues
DAY TWO: The DRAMA on Wednesday was some of what did happen, but mostly what DID NOT happen......
There are still stunned countenances at Legislative Plaza, but there is now an effort to re-group and move forward.
With newly minted House Speaker Kent Williams presiding and Speaker Pro Tem DeBerry at his elbow, the House convened just after nine o'clock.
Rep. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) noted that it was a tumultuous day when tempers flared and he apologized for not keeping his temper on control. He went on to say that he believes that on Tuesday, a falsehood was perpetrated on the House, the people of this state and Carter County. [Germantown lawmaker, GOP call for new Tenn. House Speaker to resign]
He quoted Exodus 18:21: Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
He indicated that he believed that personal ambition was put ahead of the good of the state of Tennessee and done so by a member of this body and that he regretted that having happened. He acknowledged that everyone makes mistakes but that this mistake could be corrected if that member would resign his seat and go back and give his constituents correct information as to what his intentions were and are in regard to his party affiliation to be and how this body should be run. He went on to challenge Williams to go back and run as an Independent or Democrat like Phil Graham did.
Rep. GA Hardaway (D-Memphis) responded that the focus should be on putting principle before ideology and taking care of the people in your district.
Rep. Joe McCord (R-Maryville) directed one of the most pertinent questions of the day to the House Clerk: "If we have a majority speaker (Williams, who is at least for the time being still a Republican) when we recognize the majority leader (Jason Mumpower) that recognition is now going to the minority leader (Democrat Gary Odom). Is there precedence on that?" (Note: There are still 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats as of now. So Jason is the Majority Leader and should be helping to conduct the body's business instead of Gary Odom carrying out that duty). The clerk responded that nothing is set in stone, that there had been some discussion and that leadership would meet to discuss this and come to an decision. He went on to mention the possibility of 'shared duties'.
WHAT DID NOT HAPPEN: It had been on the calendar and expected that the election of the Constitutional Officers would take place on Wednesday. However, it did not. We left yesterday not knowing when the vote on the Constitutional Officers will be held. It appears that the Democrats may be holding that vote hostage. It has been reported that Committee Chairmanships are being offered to Republicans in exchange for their votes on the Constitutional Officers.
In addition, the Committee Chairmen normally would be named on the last day (Thursday) of the organizational session. We have no idea what will happen there -- of course the committee chairmen and the makeup of the committees will determine the movement of legislation that we want to see passed. There has been some talk of Williams giving half of the chairmanships to the Republicans.
Normally, after a one week organizational session, the General Assembly would recess for two weeks to move offices around. However, because of this weeks unexpected events, there is talk of having to extend the organizational session,
Speaker vote aftermath leaves House in disarray
Speaker Williams still a Republican (in name only)
Who knows what will happen today. Stay tuned.
Majority Leader Rep. Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) has risen to this new challenge in a very impressive way, demonstrating true leadership qualities. The Republican Caucus met for over an hour after Tuesday's session and came out probably more galvanized than I have ever seen them. We are in for very interesting days!!
We have been commanded to pray for our leaders. We have the duty and responsibility to do this for all the legislators as they undertake the difficult task of guiding the 'ship of state'.