Republicans block Democrats’ amendments, approve Sean Hannity invitation to relocate in TN

The House Republican supermajority voted to block floor debate Monday night on a resolution urging conservative talk show host Sean Hannity to move to Tennessee, derailing Democrats’ efforts to poke fun at the proposal.

Rep. Andy Holt’s resolution urging Hannity and “like-minded New Yorkers” to move to Tennessee (HJR642) had drawn Democratic criticism in committee. As a prelude to the measure’s consideration on the House floor, four Democrats had filed amendments adding to language in the “preamble” section of the resolution, which presents reasons for passage, traditionally beginning with the word “whereas.”

Two amendments criticized, directly or indirectly, Knoxville’s Sen. Stacey Campfield and Holt and another the Republican supermajority in general for opposing Medicaid expansion.

But when the resolution came up, House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada promptly called “previous question” – which means the matter goes immediately to a vote with no debate and no consideration of amendments. Casada’s motion was approved by more than the necessary two-thirds majority with 69 of the House’s 71 Republicans voting for it. The resolution itself was then approved 73-22 without discussion and sent to the Senate.

Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, who had filed the amendment on Medicaid expansion, said afterward that the move was “a direct way of trying to censure what’s being said on the House floor” that he takes “real offense to it.”

“This is not the way a democracy is supposed to be – shutting off conversation at the base,” Towns said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said he hopes the move is not setting a precedent for Republicans avoiding votes on proposals from the minority.

The four amendments:

–”WHEREAS, Tennessee is proud to be the home of New York native, conservative icon, and star of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville.” Campfield is a New York native whose legislative efforts have drawn attention from the Comedy Central TV shows.

–”WHEREAS, Tennessee’s Republican governor recognized the importance of our citizens’ liberty and freedom when he vetoed legislation aimed at curtailing our first amendment rights.” The reference is to Haslam’s veto of a Holt-sponsored bill that would have required anyone making a video or photograph of animal abuse to notify law enforcement officers promptly – a measure critics said would have hampered investigations into abuse of Tennessee walking horses.

–”WHEREAS, Tennessee, unlike New York, will soon offer voters the chance to purchase their wine in grocery stores;”

— Towns’ amendment says that “unlike the state of New York, Tennessee’s Republican majority… ignored the will of the people and decided to send” $2.5 million a day in federal funds to other states in order to deny up to 350,000 “working men and women access to quality, affordable healthcare.” (Note: Full text HERE.)

The first “whereas clauses” in Holt’s actual resolution declares that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo “made inflammatory and insulting remarks about conservatives living in the Empire State.” Other clauses hail Tennessee for having low taxes as “a bastion of conservatism, family values, small government, personal responsibility, and Second Amendment rights and has long disdained the debilitating effects of liberalism” and “a place where people want to live, free of high taxes, big government, and obnoxious New York attitudes.”