House GOP retaliation for Confederate monument removal: A scripted political show?

Some Republicans familiar with the discussions leading up to Tuesday’s state House vote cut $250,000 in funding for Memphis in retaliation for the city removing Confederate statues say the money was put into the state budget on the front end only so that it could be later taken away as  part of an effort send a message to Memphis, reports the Commercial Appeal. Others deny that was the case.

The House Finance Committee put the $250,000 expenditure — earmarked to help underwrite expenses of Memphis’ bicentennial celebration next year — into the state budget by approving an amendment filed by Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis). Typically, as the article reports, such “legislative initiative” amendments are approved only after House Republican leaders agree to go along with them in a closed-door meeting – and it would be an oddity for the GOP leadership to embrace a Democrat-sponsored amendment while rejecting scores of Republican-sponsored amendments calling for extra spending beyond what the governor proposes, as they did. (Legislators, this year and historically, file a 300 or more extra spending requests and almost all are turned down.)

Depending on who you talk to, there’s varying views on why Camper’s amendment was even approved.

Williams said the proposal was funded “mainly because we love and respect Representative Camper and it’s something she wanted on the list.”

Others familiar with the budget discussions offer a different perspective.

The reason it was added, according to two people with knowledge of the talks, was simple: to give lawmakers an opportunity to send a message to Memphis.

“It was important to remind Memphis that there are consequences for actions, especially when a city blatantly violates the spirit of the law,” a Republican familiar with the House budget amendment talks said.

The sentiment was confirmed by another Republican familiar with the talks.

…“We were just looking for opportunities – some way to withhold some money from Memphis,” McDaniel said in an interview on Thursday. “We were looking for any opportunity we could to send that message and that’s what we did.”

But (House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin)… said he would never agree to play games with the budget.

“If that was the main purpose of doing that, I probably would never have put it in the budget to start with,” he said.

Sargent said he heard a rumor about the suggestion that Camper’s amendment was only approved to take it away but denied being part of any such talks.

Williams also brushed aside any such suggestion about gamesmanship with Camper’s proposal.

Although Sargent and Williams contend otherwise, one detail that provides further fuel to the belief that there was never an intention to fund Camper’s proposal was this: The Senate budget never included the money.

… When the massive funding bill was up for consideration, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, introduced and amendment to remove the $250,000 proposal. McDaniel said he talked with Hill beforehand.

“I said here you are Matthew, if you want to file this amendment, then here’s your opportunity,” McDaniel said. “He was one of many wanting to find a way to do this.”

Hill, who did not respond to a request for comment, said on the House floor that his amendment would not impact Memphis’ ability to plan their bicentennial celebration.

“What we are getting ready to vote on is a common practice in the budgetary process,” he said, arguing his measure was simply seeking to reallocate money elsewhere in the budget.

15 Responses to House GOP retaliation for Confederate monument removal: A scripted political show?

  • James White says:

    “in a closed-door meeting ” Are they complying with the spirit of the ‘sunshine’ law?

    • Tom Humphrey
      Tom Humphrey says:

      The legislature is exempted from the Sunshine Law. The state Senate has, by adoption of its own Senate rules after Republicans became a Supermajority, made itself subject to that law voluntarily. The House has not done so and therefore is not subject to open meeting requirements.
      The legislature made itself exempt from the Sunshine Law back when it was passed 40 or so years ago – though it applies to local government bodies and to state government boards, commissions, agencies and such in the executive branch – just not to the General Assembly. That position is supported by the state Constitution which declares in Article II, Section 22:
      Section 22. The doors of each House and of committees of the whole shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.
      In other words, the legislature is open to the public – except when the legislature says it is not open to the public.

  • Colleen Vaughn says:

    In politics, no good deed goes unpunished. Don’t republican legislators see the irony in supporting states rights, while they deny self determination to local municipalities.

    • Leslie Parsley says:

      Exactly. They do the same thing with gun laws.

      • James White says:

        Yes and there is a terrible, Article V constitutional convention bill that they want to put Term Limits on Congress, but Where is a bill to put Term Limits on the State Legislature. 1. I am against any Constitutional Convention call. 2. I am against Term Limits.
        Lo Colleen and Leslie are Right, ‘Do as I say, Not as I do.”
        PS. thanks, Tom for the info!

        • Lance Persson says:

          Why are you against term limits?

          • James White says:

            irst off, the Founding Fathers discussed and debated Term Limits when they were drafting the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist, No. 72, “Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more ill-founded upon close inspection.”

            Next, is the issue of a lame-duck congressman, what incentive would they have to follow the Constitution? Would they be easier prey for lobbyists? Do you remember the lame-duck special session of Congress back in 1994, when a lot of congressmen lost their seats, but they came back in November after the election and voted and passed GATT? Most Americans were against this treaty, and the elections had been held already, and the congressmen who were voted out did not have to worry about facing re-election.

            Some say it is too hard to vote out ‘bad’ congressmen. Well remember House Speaker Tom Foley? Yep, voted OUT, beat by a political Novice. House Ways and Means committee chairman, Dan Rostenkowski, voted Out. The voters Term-Limited them!

            Oh and remember the election of 1992, we got 124 NEW freshmen members of Congress… remember the 1994 election, 87 new Representatives and 11 New senators. And the voters did this without term-limits.

            I would even say that term-limits would make some of us lazy. Right now we have a congressman’s voting record to view to see if we want to re-elect them or not. But if there were term-limits, then some might say, well it doesn’t really matter if my congressman is doing bad, he will be term-limited next time anyway. People want a quick fix.

            Another point with term-limits, congressmen will be ‘new’ at the game and will have to rely on their staff more and more. These congressmen’s staff will be in high demand and then staff personnel will start to wield their power, because the congressmen will need them to ‘get things done’. And these office staff are not voted into office by the voters, so we will have no voice in this.

            And if you think there will not be career politicians, you might want to think again. After the politicians make their rounds from the house and perhaps the senate, where will they go? They will look to the executive branch, as there are plenty of federal jobs in the various executive departments. So once the congressman is term limited, he may want to help the current president with a bill or two so that the congressman can get that cushy job.

            And speaking of Term-Limits and the President…. How is that working out for you? We have Term-Limits for Presidents, but has that helped us have better Presidents?

            I think the internet will help us become better voters because we will have the advantage of doing our own research, analysis, and comparison. We will have more dialog with our elected officials and with each other. We can have our own virtual town-hall meetings, our own soap-box and we can help each other stay informed on our current congressman and together hold his feet to the fire.

            But in the long run, I don’t think the issue is Term-Limits, it is a Constitutional Convention. Term-Limits is just a sound-byte that the establishment is trying to hook unthinking voters into wanting to change the Constitution. They have been trying for years to force the states to call a Constitutional Convention. Once is was for Equal Rights, then it was for a Balance Budget, next even a Line-Item veto, now, it is the Term-Limit issue. The laymen here in the trenches are unhappy with the government and term-limits seem to be a ‘easy’ way to fix the problem. Make no mistake about it, they want to rewrite our constitution, and make you think we need just a little change here or there. And remember, those that voted for the current elected officials would vote you a new constitution. Will they vote a better one in than the one we have now? I don’t think so. Don’t Do IT!

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      The federal government was created by the states with a certain reluctance to do certain “enumerated” things. There was great suspicions about the power of the federal government so as a condition to ratifying the constitution by the states strictures were hopefully placed on federal power by the Bill of Rights which was capped explicitly recognizing states rights in the Tenth Amendment to the U. S. constitution.

      As a contrast, the localities are creations of the state, sort of committees assigned to do certain things local in nature based on the general belief held by conservatives that government is best which is closest to the people. However, whenever a state believes that one of these “committees” is exercising its power in a way it doesn’t approve the state has a right to take, and should take, corrective actions. Republican legislators see no irony in any of this simply because there is none.
      Rather, we have two different levels of government with different histories and different constitutional roles that you are attempting to conflate into one.

      • Darren Jernigan says:

        The original 13 states created Congress. Afterwards, Congress created the states. Tennessee used the “Tennessee Plan” which is actually being used today by the District of Columbia. What’s also interesting is that forty-twp percent of Tennessee’s budget is from the federal government ranking is third in the nation. Make no mistake there is is many things we can’t do without permission or we lose funding. There is our irony.

      • Lance Persson says:

        Well said. Your comment is almost totally facts, not angry rhetoric. Thank you.

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    Some of us would be happy to see state government use eminent domain to take the parks and return the monuments to their rightful place.

  • Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    People we don’t have to vote on term limits, vote out who ever is up for re-election. People another thing you must remember the people in office now have a network of voters that keep them in office so they want lose their gravy train. That’s why you must register to vote and go vote. Of course the people in these networks will tell you it doesn’t do any good to vote. But, the one that told you that will vote and laugh at you for not voting. Also, Briley IF YOU had enforced the CURFEW LAW in Nashville the Waffle House Shooting COULD have been PREVENTED, that’s why Briley you’ll never be elected. ALSO ANYBODY BUT JUDD MATHENT. Halsam you better WAKE UP.

    • Lance Persson says:

      If there is one factual statement in your posting, I sure didn’t see it. Totally your personal opinion.

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    HB 1574 passed today…

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