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Texas Tango Recap: The Absurd 88th Legislature's Special Session
From rants to rejections, dive into the absurdity of Texas politics and brace yourself for another round of gridlock, outbursts, and political theater.
Yesterday marked the grand finale of the first special session of the 88th Legislature. After a full 30 days, it ended without one bill being passed. So, what happened?
It all started on May 29, when the regular session ended, and the House and Senate were set to begin the special session the very next day. But Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick couldn't resist the urge to stir the pot. In a stunning display of bad timing, Patrick unleashed his fury on Speaker Dade Phelan.
In a riveting rendezvous with Sherry Sylvester, an Oklahoma racist, and Texas Public Policy Foundation fellow, Patrick declared, "I've had it up to here with the dysfunction in the House. Those pesky points of order that kill all the fun legislation? I'm sick and tired of them!"
Ah, yes, the famous points of order, the guardians of legislative righteousness, making sure bills follow the rules and shape up before strutting out of the chamber. How dare they?
Patrick went on, unleashing his frustration like a raging bull in a china shop. He bellowed, "You won't believe this, folks, but those sneaky Democrats have somehow managed to gain control of the House chamber. Can you imagine? In our Republican majority state? It's a travesty!"
He didn't hold back, proudly proclaiming that the Senate managed to pass their conservative agenda thanks to some nifty rule changes back in 2015. You see, they tweaked the rules to favor the majority: such fairness and much democracy.
Patrick took aim at poor Dade Phelan, accusing him of running the House like a toddler in a toy store. He grumbled about how those 64 Democrats, duly elected by the people, dared to participate in the legislative process. How dare they exercise their democratic rights?
Dade Phelan never responded to Dan Patrick's authoritarian temper tantrum.
However, there was no doubt that Phelan caught wind of Patrick’s little rant because he had a clap back lying in wait. Both the House and the Senate gaveled in for work, and the Senate was the first to pass out the legislation that met the demands of Greg Abbott. Once the Senate bill was passed, they ended the day and went home for the week.
Speaker Phelan just pulled off the grandest of bombshells. Those shiny Senate bills strutted their way into the House, ready to claim their moment in the legislative spotlight. But, Phelan unleashed his fury: "Sorry, folks, but these bills aren't exactly what the Governor had in mind." With a flick of his wrist, he swiftly gave those bills a one-way ticket out of town, sending them on a journey of epic failure.
The House passed on third reading their version of the bills that would answer the governor’s calls. Then Dade called “Sine Die.” He adjourned the House pending the Senate completing the work on the bills the House sent over.
Dan Patrick responded with disapproval, but Governor Greg Abbott sided with Phelan. The House committed to returning once the Senate gave them the right bills to pass.
The House never bothered to show up again after that glorious first day. They vanished into thin air, leaving the Senate to chug along like a stubborn old train. And dear Patrick, bless his heart, couldn't keep his public meltdowns to himself. He took to Twitter to unleash his wrath on Governor Abbott's tax plan.
Then, on June 7, Dan Patrick challenged Greg Abbott to a
duel debate. In a press conference, Patrick told the media that Abbott and Phelan were wrong on their tax plans, and he was right. He wanted to publicly debate Greg Abbott in a “Lincoln-Douglas style” to prove he was right and they were wrong.
Neither Abbott nor Phelan responded to Patrick. And the Lt. Governor’s hissy fits on Twitter continued.
On June 20, the Senate passed a new tax bill, which they voted on unanimously. Dan Patrick held another press conference talking about how great the bill was and how united the Senate was over the bill.
Greg Abbott immediately rejected the Senate bill.
June 27 was the last day of the special session, and it ended without any movement on tax relief. Nothing was passed during the first special session, so Abbott called for round two to begin today.
Get your popcorn ready because it doesn’t appear that Dan Patrick, Greg Abbott, or Dade Phelan plan on budging from their positions. We might be in for another 30 days of stand-still and Dan Patrick's outbursts. The Republican Civil War rages on, much for the entertainment of us all.