NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Early headlines of the special session gave way to tense moments between House and Senate Republicans, with disagreements lasting all the way to the end.
So the question now becomes, where do we go from here?
“The Senate’s message to us most of the time was not, ‘No,’ not, ‘Those are bad ideas,’” House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said. “But they did not want to take those up in this special session and again, I respect that, that is their decision, even though we disagree with it.”
It’s a safe bet to say the House and Senate Republican caucuses will make up and reunify come the regular session in January. A more complicated question is, how do House Republicans and Democrats move on from the drama in the last five months?
“Everybody’s voice deserves to be heard,” Rep. Harold Love Jr. (D-Nashville) said. “I think when you start silencing those voices, then you’re going to see more frustration.”
Tensions flared several times as silencing representatives and a physical scuffle took the spotlight away from the few pieces of legislation that actually passed.
“We can handle issues in a passionate way without getting physical or up in each other’s face or yelling and screaming at each other,” Lamberth said. “We’ve always done that in an orderly society and specifically within the legislature.”
The two parties feel as divided as ever, with seemingly no plans to make up or even an intention to do so.
“If you come for one of us, you come for all of us, that we’re united against this extremism, this anti-democratic behavior,” Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) said.
The behavior leaves Tennesseans hanging in between.
“Do we have a lot of work to do going forward? We should never stop,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said. “When I campaigned, I said, ‘People want to live in a safe neighborhood, and until they do, we should never stop working on public safety.’”
Whether that work involves compromise remains to be seen.