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Legislature Set To Meet In Three Days As The GOP Civil War Rages On
Governor Greg Abbott finally published his official agenda for the special session. There aren’t any surprises, school vouchers, border security, and investigating Colony Ridge. All of this is complete crap. Vouchers are unpopular and will hurt public schools. Border security is the federal government’s job. And Colony Ridge is a Hispanic community that the GOP has labeled a magnet for undocumented immigrants, with zero proof or evidence.
It doesn’t matter, though, because the likelihood of the House and the Senate working cohesively to pass legislation is low.
Speaker Dade Phelan has finally broken his silence in the last few weeks, and he’s come out swinging.
First, Phelan published an Op-Ed in the Beaumont Enterprise, where he accused the Texas Senate of putting politics over principles. It’s a good read if you get the time. Phelan cited the months-long investigation into allegations involving bribery, deceit, and other disturbing misconduct as why the House overwhelmingly agreed that a further examination of the facts was merited.
Phelan said, “I stand by that vote, and I stand by the belief that Paxton’s conduct is beneath his office. The evidence speaks for itself.”
Here is how Dan Patrick responded:
Over the last month, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has made countless statements and participated in over a dozen interviews, proclaiming how honest he and the Republican members of the Senate were and how everything with the impeachment trial was on the up and up.
Then there was this exchange:
Insiders told Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, that Dan Patrick called Senators the night of deliberation and told them to vote no on the impeachment. Dan Patrick not only denied that, but he also called Braddock a liar.
However, earlier this week, the San Antonio Express broke a story confirming that Dan Patrick called Senators Joan Huffman and Brian Birdwell on the night of deliberation. As it turned out, it was Dan Patrick lying. Shocker, right?
If Dan Patrick lied about calling those two Senators, what else did he lie about in his “I’m fair and honest” tour?
Regardless, Dade Phelan wasn’t done hitting back.
At a recent Republican meeting, Phelan accused Patrick of wanting also to be the speaker and stated, “That isn’t going to happen.” He further went on to say the House got the impeachment right, but the Senate made a wrong decision in acquitting Paxton. He even mentioned the $3 million Dan Patrick received from Defend Texas Liberty PAC before the trial.
I hope you have some popcorn going because Dan Patrick responded to Phelan again this morning, and it’s getting good.
Notice how he mentioned John Smithee again? The Defend Liberty PAC crew has openly talked about ousting Phelan for Smithee. Steve Toth, Tony Tinderholt, and Brian Harrison suggested that John Smithee become the speaker.
Of course, other Republicans have implied that John Smithee is too moderate. But they’re just going on the one speech he made over one decision in his nearly 40-year career. That’s how reactionaries operate.
How would that work if Dade Phelan is currently the speaker?
The rabid far-right GOP base has been egging on Brian Harrison to put forth a motion to vacate when they get back in session on Monday. Judging by some of Harrison’s recent social media posts, it’s looking more and more like he might strike up the nerve.
What would it take to remove Phelan as speaker? First, they have to get ten signatures to bring forth the motion, then the entire House would vote on it, and they would need a simple majority (76) to remove Phelan.
There’s no way that happens. I doubt Harrison would even be able to get the ten signatures. Aside from the Republicans funded by the Defend Liberty PAC, most GOP members are still with Phelan. Even though Phelan was the speaker when Paxton was impeached, he has been one of the most Conservative speakers ever. A lot of really horrible legislation has happened on his watch.
On top of that, we’ve seen in recent years when the House members as a body decide they don’t like you. They will embarrass you on the mic and block your bills and amendments. Democrats and Republicans are pretty good at working together to shut down the assholes. They did it to Bryan Slaton and Tony Tinderholt, and Brian Harrison is headed down that track.
What will happen?
I expect this special session, which only lasts 30 days, will be contentious. There will be lots of drama. We’ll get some good soundbites and video clips. But will Abbott’s agenda get passed? That remains to be seen. I’d give it a 50/50 at this point. At the very least, it will be entertaining. Stay tuned.
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