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Dade Phelan Re-Elected House Speaker And Congress In Chaos
Huge rules fight is expected today in the Texas House as Republicans in DC completely melt down.
Yesterday in Austin, the 88th Texas Legislature was sworn in. Opening day is mostly ceremonial. Members are sworn in, a House speaker is elected, and Greg Abbott gives an opening day address. However, the fight against Dade Phelan from the far-right took center stage during the speaker election as Bryan Slaton nominated Tony Tinderholt.
New Tarrant County Rep. Nate Schatzline seconded Tinderholt’s nomination. And when they ran out of supporters, Tinderholt spoke for himself. (Typically, up to five members will speak about the speaker-nominee, and the speaker-nominee doesn’t give a speech on their own behalf.)
Dade Phelan won re-election in a vote of 143-3.
The speaker election did set the tone for a few things. First, Bryan Slaton has solidified his role as the most disliked among his peers. During the last legislative session, Slaton didn’t achieve anything because representatives on both sides of the aisle didn’t like him. You can guarantee this session; we’ll see a repeat of this.
Second, Nate Schatzline decided that his first impression in the House would be to align himself with the most disliked of his peers and vote against Phelan. This will backfire on him. We shouldn’t expect Schatzline’s priorities to pass this session.
Last, several Republican speakers spoke in favor of Phelan appointing Democratic chairs. And when Phelan made his acceptance speech, he pointed to last week’s chaos in DC and said, “After watching Congress attempt to function last week, I can’t imagine why some would want it to be like DC.” (Meaning he will appoint Democratic chairs and continue to push bipartisanship.)
The priorities Phelan laid out include the following:
Access to healthcare.
Criminal justice reform.
Reigning in “rogue” district attorneys.
Health coverage for new moms.
What that means for Texans is yet to be determined. We’ll have to see how things pan out over the next few months.
The fight over House rules is expected today.
Tinderholt, Slaton, and Schatzline voted against Phelan because they didn’t want Democratic chairs on any committees. While Phelan signaled yesterday that he would seat Dem chairs, the fight for banning them from chairmanships is far from over.
The House reconvenes today at 10 am to vote on the House rules. At that time, Slaton will likely try to ban Democrats from committee chairs again. We can expect Tinderholt and Schatzline to join him, but there’s no clear indication of how many other Republicans will vote for Slaton’s cause. The Republican Party of Texas recently said there were 19 House Republicans who would vote against Democratic chairs. So, we’ll have to wait and see.
Bryan Slaton was ranting and raving on Twitter last night about the House rules being voted on today. Allegedly, the initial vote was tomorrow, and Phelan moved it up. Slaton arranged for busloads of fascist Trumpers to come to Austin and sit on the upper balcony to pressure the GOP into banning Dem chairs. However, when Slaton found out the vote was today, he went bananas. He said Phelan was acting in defiance to Republican voters.
Influencers associated with the far right, like the Texas Scorecard and their cronies, accused every Republican that voted for Phelan of being RINOs.
Last week, the breakdown we saw in congress over their House Speaker vote showed the country the deep divide between the QAnon-type and the rest of the GOP. The fight over Democratic committee chairs in the Texas House is no different. Far-right extremists in Austin are determined to push their ideas, no matter how unpopular.
Congress is in chaos.
Last week’s shitshow in DC was just the beginning of what will unfold over the next two years, and the absurdity has been on full display this week.
The first bill Republicans voted on as a body was their so-called “Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act.” I made a highlight reel of the debate because it was so absurd. Republicans wanted to defund IRS enforcement because of the widely debunked conspiracy theory about 87,000 IRS agents who will be kicking in doors of everyday Americans.
During the debate, Republicans continued to reference this false claim, and Democrats responded by entering fact-checking reports, studies, and articles into the record. But it didn’t matter to Republicans what the truth was. They kept going on about the IRS army. The bill passed among party lines.
While this bill will never see the light of day in the Senate, it’s important to note that it would add $114 billion to the national deficit and shield millionaire and billionaire tax cheats. Once again, proving that Republicans lie to their voters, say that their working for them, but really push to enrich the wealthy further.
Yesterday, Texas’ own Congressman Pat Fallon (TX04) introduced a resolution to impeach Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, for high crimes and misdemeanors. For what? It’s unclear, but likely some sort of conspiracy theory.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy appointed Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX19) as chair of the budget committee. This is problematic because Arrington has called for raising the retirement age for social security. His appointment indicates that the GOP is serious about going after social security.
And the GOP has banned Eric Swalwell, Adam Schiff, and Ilhan Omar from sitting on committees during the 118th Congress.
Democrats kicked Republicans off of committees because they threatened to kill their coworkers. Republicans are kicking Democrats off committees because “what goes around, comes around.” Absolute absurdity.
Between the chaos in DC and the shitshow in Austin, 2023 will be stressful for Democrats. But politically, a lot of this will backfire on the GOP. They are setting us up for a huge win in 2024. We'll have to grin and bear it until then.