With some Metro Council members calling the proposal “inappropriate,” the council Tuesday night rejected a memorializing resolution that would have expressed support for the Tennessee Healthcare Freedom Act.
The state bill, which has already cleared the state Senate, is effectively an attempt by state Republican lawmakers to nullify President Obama’s recently passed health care law.
The non-binding resolution in the council was put forward by Councilman Jim Gotto, who insisted council members owed it to their constituents to weigh in on the state legislation.
The measure failed last night by a 9-23 margin, with several skeptics wondering whether the issue belonged in the council chambers in the first place. Its failure set off a collective cheer.
Councilman Randy Foster, a self-described conservative who opposed many of Obama’s health care initiatives, said ultimately the issue is one that should be settled by the Tennessee General Assembly. He abstained from voting last night.
“I have my own views ... but at some point, I think it’s important for us to consider what our role is,” Foster told his fellow council members. “For my part, I’m just tired of us straying outside the realm of our responsibility.”
Echoing those thoughts, Councilman Greg Adkins said, “This is the wrong venue to bring up these type of resolutions,” calling the council an “inappropriate” place for such matters.
The council has “absolutely no authority” in federal or state matters, Adkins said.
Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, meanwhile, suggested political points may have been at play with the filing of the memorializing resolution.
“[Leaders who have filed lawsuits against the health care law] are using their elected offices to perpetuate a distortion of reality to further their own political careers,” LaLonde said. “I’m urging my colleagues to not use our political office in the same way.”
Gotto is running as a Republican for the state House's District 60 seat, which is currently held by conservative-leaning Democrat Ben West Jr., who isn’t seeking another term.
Council members who voted for the memorializing resolution were Karen Bennett, Carl Burch, Phil Claiborne, Michael Craddock, Eric Crafton, Duane Dominy, Robert Duvall, Gotto and Jim Hodge.