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Speaker of the House Rep. Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, gavels towards the end of the last day of legislative session in the House Chambers, Thursday, June 10, 2021, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said Friday he was confident moments before the vote Wednesday that the Louisiana House would override Gov. John Bel Edwards' veto of a transgender bill but "three or four" representatives went back on their verbal commitments and caused the effort to fail.

Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican, declined to identify the legislators.

"I would rather not," he said. "All of those are my House members. I always said I would protect my House members. That is something we will take care of inside the rails," meaning internally.

The override effort got 68 votes, two short of the 70 needed to make it happen.

Another 30 lawmakers voted to sustain the veto.

Schexnayder said before the vote he was 100% confident the override would succeed on the bill, which would have barred transgender athletes who were born male from competing in girl’s and women's sports.

The Senate on Tuesday voted to override the governor.

That moved the showdown vote to the House, which was crowded with spectators and senators during the second day of Louisiana's first veto session.

"I felt good walking into the chamber," Schexnayder said.

Five minutes before the vote, he said, he believed he had the votes to finish the override and make the measure – Senate Bill 156 – state law despite Edwards' objections.

The Republican, who has tangled with the governor periodically, said Edwards pulled out all the stops to ensure his veto was sustained.

"I think the governor went after the votes that we had," he said. "Of course that is part of the process. He spent a lot of political capital to get this vote."

"The one thing I can say is let's see how this plays out over the next two years."

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The bill initially won lopsided legislative approval in both chambers.

However, the political landscape changes during any override attempt, and Democrats with one exception – Rep. Francis Thompson, of Delhi – stuck with the Democratic governor.

One GOP member – Rep. Joe Stagni, of Kenner – crossed party lines and voted to sustain the veto.

Edwards painted the bill as mean-spirited and one that would have economic consequence amid talk that the NCAA might back off its pledge to hold the 2022 Final Four basketball tournament in New Orleans.

Speculation has focused on four lawmakers who were supposedly in the override camp before changing their minds – Reps. Roy Daryl Adams, No-Party, Jackson; Travis Johnson, D-Vidalia; Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine and Mack Cormier, D-Belle Chasse. 

Brown said Friday evening he did not tell either side of the debate how he planned to vote and that he was wrestling with his decision.

The other three lawmakers could not be reached for comment.

Schexnayder said lawmakers concluded there was no point trying to override other bills vetoed by Edwards since the transgender measure was given the best chance for success.

After the vote there was speculation that the failure of Republicans to muster a two-thirds majority could spell problems later this year or in 2022 when the Legislature tackles redistricting.

Schexnayder disagreed. "None at all," he said of the impact. 

"We will come in, we will make decisions based on the data that comes in just like we are supposed to do."

Louis Gurvich, chairman of the State Republican Party, said earlier this week Schexnayder should replace all five Democratic chairs with Republicans who are members of the newly-formed Conservative Caucus.

Schexnayder, who was elected speaker with heavy Democratic support, said he does not make decisions based on what the GOP leader says.

"I have not followed what Gurvich has said," he said. "Gurvich has not contacted me since I was elected speaker."

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.

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