Tennessee Republicans shut down a resolution condemning Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists during a House Subcommittee meeting Wednesday night.
The resolution, otherwise known as House Joint Resolution 583, condemns the “totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.”
The resolution would have classified various Alt-Right or White Nationalist groups as terrorist organizations, and while it did not require further action against these organizations, it did urge law enforcement to “pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism.”
House Republicans refused even to give the resolution a hearing.
Without a second motion to hear the proposal, subcommittee chairman Bill Sanderson directed the bill’s sponsor, John Ray Clemmons, to present a different bill to the panel, effectively killing the resolution.
“I’m in utter disbelief at what just happened,” Clemmons told the Tennessean. “I didn’t think there was anything controversial about this resolution.”
The resolution was filed to the General Assembly a few days after the controversial “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, which assembled various Neo-Nazi, Alt-Right, and Ku Klux Klan organizations to protest the city’s removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park. The rally took the life of counter-protestor Heather Heyer and state troopers Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died in a helicopter crash near the city. The rally also resulted in 38 injuries and 11 arrests of protestors in the area, including James Alex Fields Jr., who killed Heyer by ramming into her and 19 other protestors with his car.
House Majority Leader Glen Casada said the Chamber would be open to considering the bill again and encouraged Clemmons to put the bill back on notice.
“The bill is not dead,” Casada said. “It just didn’t get a second.”
Clemmons would like to present the bill again, but because of the subcommittee Republican’s reaction to his bill, he’s uncertain of its advancement into the House of Representatives.
“I would love to try to pass a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis,” Clemmons said. “But if I can’t even get a second in a subcommittee, it evidences this Republican supermajority’s refusal to denounce these hate organizations, for what reason I cannot begin to imagine.”