On the Gardenhire-Yarbro clash in Senate Health Committee

Andy Sher has provided a somewhat detailed report on the verbal clash between a Republican and Democratic senator during debate Wednesday proceeding the Senate Health Committee vote that killed Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal.

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, sharply criticized Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, after Yarbro said in the Health Committee hearing that “I would just note that virtually every member of the Tennessee General Assembly receives some form of tax-subsidized health care.”

With the governor’s proposal in trouble among GOP lawmakers, Yarbro, a proponent of the plan to extend federally subsidized insurance to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans, also said, “Before we make the decision to do nothing, I just think many of those members who are opposed or have doubts about this would offer some type of suggestion about what the governor’s plan should do that would allow us to actually accomplish this.”

“Sen. Yarbro,” shot back Gardenhire, who opposes Haslam’s plan, “I’ve heard you twice kind of take a slap at some of us, and I’m getting a little resentful of it. I have a very nice health care [plan] provided to me through my private employer. My wife’s on Social Security. I guess some people could say i should be on Social Security. But I’m not.”

Gardenhire added, “When you said while ago we ought to take it seriously, would you name the ones on the committee that’s not taking this seriously? And if you can’t, how about apologizing. This is not a campaign. This is serious.”

Replied Yarbro: “I completely agree this is not a campaign and it is very serious. And I don’t think there’s anyone who’s not taking the job seriously.”

Gardenhire retorted, “Then why did you say so?”

“I did not say,” Yarbro began ,when Gardenhire cut him off, saying, “Yes, you did. I know you’re new but you need to learn how to respect us.”

Yarbro said, “With all due respect, I do respect this body and this body’s serious consideration of the issues.”