Let’s Get Ready to Resolution Ru-u-m-m-mble!
Will Harwell break a tie vote? If she doesn’t, will it result in the end of her speakership?
Will a House committee insult the retiring Ron Ramsey by defeating his last big legislation?
Will Sanderson wilt under pressure and flip flop?
Will Gov. Haslam end all hopes of having any sort of a relationship with legislative Republicans?
At noon Tuesday the House State Government Committee will meet. #7 on the docket is consideration of Senate resolution SJR0467 regarding the proposed lawsuit against the feds over control of refugee resettlement in Tennessee. RTP whipster-tipsters say the vote is currently 5 in favor, 4 against (Chairman Bob Ramsey and the 3 committee Democrats), leaving Rep. Bill Sanderson as the Nervous Nellie in the middle. If it is a 5-5 vote, and Harwell doesn’t step in to break the tie, the resolution will fail and all hell will break loose.
Keep in mind, there is a document with over 70 House Republicans’ signatures calling for the lawsuit. The one obvious holdout — Bob Ramsey. Will Sanderson and Bob Ramsey pull a “Kent Williams” and screw over the overwhelming majority of their caucus?
The fallout on this vote could extend far, far beyond the question of refugee resettlement.
Let’s start with Sanderson. Sanderson appeared to get the vapors over the subcommittee vote, but he finally sided with moving the resolution forward. This is not the first time Sanderson has threatened to go all squishy. A couple of years ago a legislator introduced legislation for Tennessee to take a more cautious approach to refugee re-settlement and illegal immigration, Sanderson worked himself into a complete snit.
But by the time of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attack, Sanderson had done a complete turnaround, taking to Facebook to declare:
“Today I sent a request to Governor Haslam requesting the state suspend all efforts to settle any Syrian Refugees in Tennessee. It is essential the U.S. Department of Homeland Security complete a full review of security clearances and procedures. After the recent terrorist attacks in Chattanooga, Paris, and throughout the world, many in the state and federal legislatures are looking for new ways to ensure safety.” — Rep. Bill Sanderson Nov. 16, 2015
Well Bill, here’s your chance to make good on that. Everyone is watching what you do.
The other legislator facing high stakes is the Speaker herself. If Harwell allows this vote to go down in the committee — with or without her making a tie-breaking vote — she is in deep kimchi. It was through her actions alone (reportedly at the request of the governor) that the resolution was run through as many committee as possible to increase the opportunities for its defeat. But then a petition got circulated and quickly received over 70 Republican signatures. If Harwell cannot work the will of her chamber — and with a overwhelming majority of her own caucus — it will difficult if not impossible for her to retain control of that same caucus when it comes time for a vote for Speaker later this year.
Members are already quietly seething that she mishandled the Durham Debacle and doubting her leadership as a result. By the way, guess who may be one of the deciding votes on the committee. Durham. Wow, the irony….
And last, as well as least, Gov. Bill “The Kid” Haslam. Inexplicably, Haslam has defended the Obama Administration’s vetting of the Syrian refugees at the very same time the Obama Administration’s Homeland Security Dept. was saying they could not properly vet the refugees. Oops.
Haslam is about to become the lamest of lame ducks.
The stakes are huge on this one.