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Tennessee House speaker: 2 lawmakers ‘trying to cause chaos’

Aug 17, 2023

Caitlyn Shelton

(NewsNation) — Tensions are high in Tennessee. The Tennessee General Assembly’s special session came to a close Tuesday with apparent pushing and shoving between lawmakers.

The confrontation on the House floor involved Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Democratic Rep. Justin Pearson.

As lawmakers exited the floor while chants of “vote them out” rang out, videos of the incident appeared to show Sexton and Pearson briefly interacting as other lawmakers rushed to separate the two. Democratic Rep. Justin Jones also later took the speaker’s gavel and shouted: “This House is out of order.”

During an interview with “On Balance” host Leland Vittert on Wednesday, Sexton blamed Pearson and Jones for the chaos.

“You have two individuals that are causing the problems. They’re not there to do the business (of legislating) or be a state representative. They’re just there to promote themselves,” Sexton said.

He continued: “Only two of the members out of the 99 are trying to cause chaos and interactions. Rep. Pearson is one of them. Another video later was Rep. Jones was going up to the dias after we left and using the gavel from the speaker to talk to the gallery. You just have two people on the other side of the aisle who refuse to follow the House rules. That’s what you get.”

Pearson and Jones are members of the “Tennessee Three” and were both expelled earlier this year for interrupting House proceedings. They won back their seats this month.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Pearson said, in part: “White supremacist speaker Cameron Sexton violently shoved me today while I held my ‘Protect Kids, Not Guns!’ sign. I’m infuriated by his actions.”

During an appearance on MSNBC, Jones said he was calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Sexton because “he’s leading Tennessee on the path of failure, humiliation and authoritarianism.”

The special session was called after The Covenant School shooting in Nashville that left six people dead in March. The House ended up adjourning the special session without any significant gun safety legislation.

The Hill contributed to this report.

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