You want to know the difference between Tennessee Democrats and Tennessee Republicans? Well look no further than the Tennessee General Assembly.
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From the Tennessee Republican Party’s side of the aisle, we see a staggering lack of CONCERN, CHARACTER, and LEADERSHIP.
LACK OF CONCERN: Without much consideration or thought, Senate Republicans dashed the hopes of Tennesseans like Tracy Foster, who need access to affordable health insurance to stave off life-threatening diseases and potential personal bankruptcies:
“It was never very likely the nine-member committee, eight of whom are Republicans, would approve the plan….During the hearing Tuesday…there was very little discussion….Sen. Dolores Gresha, R-Somerville, asked one question about the plan, the only question asked by a committee member
‘It was disconcerting to see the lack of any meaningful discussion. The people of Tennessee deserved better from their legislature today,’ said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville.”
The vote on Insure Tennessee shows that Tennessee Republicans don’t care if they deny health care to hardworking Tennesseans. They don’t care that working families will go broke if they get sick. They don’t care that hospitals are going to close and people will lose their jobs. They don’t care that without health care, Tennesseans will die.
The ridiculous amount of time they spent debating whether or not “Insure Tennessee” is “Obama Care” clearly shows that they let their hatred of President Obama get in the way of doing what’s right for the people of Tennessee.
LACK OF CHARACTER: Republican Senator Todd Gardenhire, (R-Chattanooga), who voted against access to affordable health care for 300,000 Tennesseans twice, was filmed calling an Insure Tennessee supporter an “a**hole.” The comment came in response to a question about whether Gardenhire planned to keep his own insurance after voting to deny healthcare to 300,000 hard working Tennesseans.
Sen. Gardenhire showed he had no compassion when he voted twice to deny healthcare to over a quarter of a million hardworking Tennesseans. Sen. Gardenhire showed he had no common sense when he voted twice to turn down over a billion dollars in federal funding to ensure that rural hospitals in Tennessee can stay open. Now Sen. Gardenhire has shown a serious lack of character after calling a fellow Tennessean an a**hole.
LACK OF LEADERSHIP: After the Sen. Gardenhire incident, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) was asked what he thought and instead of reprimanding his Senator, he all but said, “Boys will be boys.”
What kind of leader doesn’t hold his own people accountable for their actions? The kind that panders to special interests, like Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), who had no problem fast-tracking legislation to allow guns in Tennessee’s parks to appease the NRA. But pushing her members to vote to give access to affordable health care to 300,000 hardworking Tennesseans? No sense of urgency whatsoever.
Speaker Harwell on Guns in Parks Legislation: “And of course we wanted to show we were supportive of them and their agenda, so yeah, we pushed the bill to today.” (Link)
Speaker Harwell on Insure Tennessee: “Do I think we want to spend a lot of time during the regular session? Nah, I don’t think that.” (Link)
This is just another example of Republican opportunism. They saw a chance to do the bidding of the NRA and didn’t hesitate. Speaker Harwell didn’t even have the courage to vote no after admitting that her constituents were against the bill. This lack of leadership is a hallmark of her tenure as Speaker.
At this point, let’s be clear about something, the Tennessee Democratic Party believes in having an honest, open conversation about guns. Part of that conversation is that we strongly believe that guns have no place in parks, especially in parks when children are present during school activities. We can work together to enact commonsense improvements, but when Republicans kowtow to the NRA by stifling discussions, they make it clear that they are more interested in serving radical special interests than the people of Tennessee.
From the Tennessee Democratic Party’s side of the aisle, we continue to see our Democrats WORKING HARD FOR ALL TENNESSEANS.
Tennessee Democrats have sponsored bills this year that address issues of minimum wage to help ensure that over 100,000 hardworking Tennesseans are able to earn a good day’s wage for a good day’s work, equal pay for women, protecting investments in public education, and expanding access to affordable health care.
Everyday Democratic Representatives and Senators are working hard to ensure that Tennessee is a state that treats everyone equally and creates opportunity for all.
Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) refuting arguments against Equal Pay “one by one.”
Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis) and Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) questioning Rep. Casada (R-Franklin) on a bill that would potentially discontinue Pre-K.
Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) commenting on Rep. Clemmons’s “Tennessee Pay Equality Act” and women voters.
Sen Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) & Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-): Setting a minimum wage that makes sense for Tennessee would increase wages for more than a half million people and generate more than a half billion dollars in new economic activity.
Rep. Kevin Dunlap (D-Rock Island) stands up for parents and teachers with a bill requiring testing transparency and availability of scores to parents.
Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville): Tennessee ranks 42nd in education, 45th in overall health and 45th in the number of children living in poverty, yet the Senate is focusing its energy on guns.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you there’s no difference.