A partisan debate topic on the House floor Thursday was a resolution by state Rep. Andy Holt offering thanks to Tennessee’s two U.S. senators for declaring they will not vote for anyone nominated by President Barack Obama as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
“We hereby thank Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker for their position to not move forward on a nomination to the Supreme Court by the current administration and expect their decision to refrain from entertaining a nomination by the current administration be sustained regardless of any conditions,” declares HR178.
“It looks like to me like we’ve got more important things to do than compliment senators on not doing the job they’re supposed to do … or for doing the job they’re supposed to do, for that matter,” said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.
But Holt said it was appropriate for legislators to back Alexander and Corker in refusing to consider Obama nominees when “his presidency is coming to a close, thank goodness.” Other Republicans, including Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and Rep. William Lamberth of Gallatin, rallied to the cause in speeches.
Casada read quotations from Vice President Joe Biden, speaking when he was a Democratic U.S. senator, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York in opposition to Republican presidents submitting nominees to the Supreme Court late in their terms.
Lamberth noted the Legislature regularly passes resolutions honoring sports teams, couples celebrating wedding anniversaries, students chosen as class valedictorian and the like.
“We should recognize people when they’ve done something good,” he said, and the senators’ stance meets that standard.
Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death created the court vacancy at issue in Washington, as declaring senators should act promptly on court nominees and “would have been in opposition to what we’re complementing our senators for doing.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville complained about “engaging in these partisan games” and supporting U.S. Senate Republicans in “obstructionism that the public finds so abhorrent.”
The resolution was approved on a 70-24 vote. Only one Democrat, Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston, voted for it and no Republican voted against it, though four did not vote.
Holt filed the measure as a House-only resolution, so it does not go to the Senate and a copy will now be officially sent to Alexander and Corker.