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NASHVILLE — Efforts by state GOP lawmakers to block Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee's decision to accept a limited number of refugees under a federal resettlement program were placed on hold Tuesday as both sides held discussions.

Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, asked for a week's delay on his measure, House Bill 1929, revealing to members of the GOP-run House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee that "we've had some discussions over the last few hours ... and [Monday] and have a conversation currently with the governor's administration.

"So, out of courtesy to our governor, we're going to roll this one week to continue those conversations," Gant added.

Subcommittee Chairman Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, said, "I appreciate that gesture. We always want to stay friends with our administration."

Republicans' bill was a direct challenge to Lee, who in late December decided the state would accept a limited number of refugees, turning down an offer by President Donald Trump's administration that allowed states to reject the federal resettlement program.

The decision by Lee, a passionate social conservative who has worked with refugees in the past, drew fierce opposition from riled fellow Republicans in the General Assembly, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville.

Bell and Gant introduced legislation in an effort to stop the governor from committing the state to the program.

Bell's Senate Bill 2730 had been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Committee Tuesday but the panel ran out of time before getting to it.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.

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