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TN Democratic, Republican leaders trade barbs ahead of spe…


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tensions are flaring after Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) officially made the call for special session.

Democrats are angry after Lee’s call had significantly less to do with gun reform than it did with other reform like juvenile crime.

“He’s using this special session, or so it appears, as a Trojan Horse to pass a whole slew of harmful legislation,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said.

In response, Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) referenced the Democrats’ move of going on a bus tour and pointed to a tweet from Clemmons showing a photo from behind the bus.

News 2 asked Sexton if he had a response to the Trojan Horse accusation.

“You mean the same way they want to jam down gun restrictions on people and take away your ability to own guns and ban guns and ban ammunition and ban magazines, the same thing that they’re wanting to put into special session?” Sexton said. “They’re running around the state right now on a school bus that none of them are riding, apparently, they’re hopping on it when they pull into the parking lot.”

The Speaker said Democrats are only focused on one thing instead of more of a wide range of solutions for special session.

“We have a lot of things in there that we can do, mental health, a lot of great things that could be done,” he said. “The only thing they’re focusing on is the guns, which we knew all along.”

Clemmons laughed at Sexton’s response.

“Speaker Sexton may be a little jealous that people are actually showing up to our bus tour events, as opposed to the one he traveled around the state on in his luxury cruise liner, and nobody came out to see him,” Clemmons said.

Regardless of the squabble, Democrats are essentially powerless in this instance as Republicans control all three branches of Tennessee’s government.

“We’re not going to pass the enhanced orders of protection, there’s no gun bills that can be passed,” Sexton said.

Still, Clemmons noted the governor could have forced the conversation in his call, even if lawmakers didn’t necessarily agree with it.

Sexton was dismissive of the notion.“They’re just upset because their ideas didn’t get put in because we don’t believe that they would fix anything.”

To the Speaker’s credit, Clemmons agreed with that analysis.

“He’s right, we are upset that there’s no room in there for real gun safety legislation. I mean, that’s the whole purpose for the call,” he said. “That’s the reason that thousands of families and parents and children came to the Capitol to call for immediate action.”

Clemmons is referencing the weeks of protest following the Covenant School shooting back in March and the expulsion of two House members in April.

He also accused Republicans of spreading misinformation around the special session and gun control.

“They continue this thing about, ‘We want to take your firearms away, we want to violate your constitutional rights, we want to just ban all guns.’ It’s fiction,” Clemmons said. “That’s complete misinformation, and it’s irresponsible for someone like the Speaker of the House of Representatives to purposefully spread that type of misinformation to the general public because those ideas aren’t being presented by anyone up here.”

The special session is set for Aug. 21.

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