More on House-Senate flap over who goes first on Medicaid measure

Comments excerpted from a Chattanooga TFP story on arguments between House and Senate leaders over Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey insisting the House go first in considering Gov. Bill Haslam’s modified Medicaid expansion program.

“It’s just silly,” McCormick added. “We won’t do that. I’m not going to put my members on the spot like that. If they [senators] don’t want to do it, they just need to tell us and we’ll go about our business and go into regular session. But we’re not going to go through an exercise in futility.”

Each chamber should have its own resolution and proceed simultaneously, said McCormick, who noted that was the understanding.

Ramsey later told reporters there’s “some irony” in McCormick’s criticisms “because I’ve been very upfront about this with the governor and everybody else that that’s what should happen.”

Ramsey said that oftentimes when the Senate proceeds first on a proposal, House members complain senators “are cramming everything down our throats.”

“This is one of those issues that I feel like the House needs to go first. I’ve been adamant about that,” Ramsey said. “I’ve talked to the governor. I talked to [Haslam chief of staff] Mark Cate and others. That’s where I am….. “I want to make sure it passes in the House before we take it up.”

…Harwell was asked about the flap on her way to a legislative event in which lawmakers, legislative staff and most of Haslam’s Cabinet joined in putting together thousands of food packages for the needy.

“Misery loves company — no, I’m just kidding,” Harwell said. “Well, I think I’m going to see the lieutenant governor on my way over here.”

Haslam, who was also at the event, told reporters he recalled things differently from Ramsey.

“It’s always been our understanding that the effort would proceed simultaneously” in the House and Senate, Haslam said.

Asked later whether things had been resolved, Harwell said, “No, I don’t think we have that resolved. There’s no question between the lieutenant governor [Ramsey] and I. I just feel like my body feels they’re more comfortable that there are two resolutions and we’re working together at the same time.”