Tennessee Senate delays action on Medicaid work requirement bill

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, walks past protesters lining the tunnel connecting the legislative office complex to the state Capitol on the opening day of the second session of the 109th General Assembly in Nashville, Tenn. Senate Republicans, who control 28 of 33 seats in the upper chamber of the General Assembly, are scheduled to meet Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, to nominate their leaders. McNally has been the consensus choice to succeed Speaker Ron Ramsey, who has retired. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE - Senate Republicans on Thursday sent a controversial bill seeking to impose work requirements on some able-bodied adult Medicaid enrollees from the floor back to committee for further review.

The move by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, caught House Speaker Beth Harwell - a Nashville Republican running for governor who sponsored the bill, which was passed earlier this week in the lower chamber - completely off guard.

She defended the legislation, saying it has "84 percent popularity, people want to see this work requirement. It's a work requirement that we put on welfare recipients - we did that back when Bill Clinton allowed us to have that flexibility. Trump is giving us this flex with TennCare."

photo House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, presides over the House on the opening day of the legislative session Tuesday, Jan.