Ahead of Thursday’s vote, tensions appeared high among lawmakers as they debated separate legislation, including a school safety bill that would require every school to have a resource officer or security guard. Members of the public filled the galleries and hallways to observe the session.
If the vote is successful, it would mark an unprecedented wielding of power by the Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature. Expelling members typically occurs when individuals are accused of crimes or ethics violations, a rare step that tends to follow an internal investigation that can span months or years and features bipartisan agreement.
In this case, however, Republicans angered by the trio’s actions moved swiftly and unilaterally.
“They have gone to extreme consequences for three members who spoke without permission,” said Johnson in an interview with POLITICO.
Removing Johnson and her colleagues would set a “terrible precedent,” she said. “You could be expelled for literally anything, the smallest infraction possible.”
The drama has skyrocketed the three to the national stage as Democrats have rallied around them and tried to steer that attention toward enacting gun reform laws in Tennessee and beyond. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Tennessee Republicans are “shrugging in the face of yet another school shooting.”