|Governor Greg Abbott starts advertising buy that targets Democrats who fled with Austin Rep on Wanted Poster
Abbott Puts Democrats in Driver's Seat
on Redistricting with Veto on Article 10
July 15, 2021
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan put the bipartisan coalition that he used to win the gavel at serious risk on Thursday with a dramatic about-face on the position that he'd taken in defense of Democrats the first time they derailed a controversial election bill with a walkout less than two months ago.
Phelan said on the final day of the regular session that he hadn't tried to stop Democrats from fleeing the lower chamber before a vote on the election measure on the grounds that they'd been doing what they thought they had to do to represent their individual districts as faithfully as they can.
While Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrck branded Texas Democrats who've gone rogue as "the liar's club," Phelan began to backpeddle rapidly the empathetic and forgiving approach he'd displayed in May, ordering the representatives who've broken quorum for the past three days to return to Austin without delay.
As Patrick railed about the House Democrats ploy as an epic publicity stunt, the first-term speaker ordered 60 missing representatives to return to the Capitol immediately with the option of a return trip that they're staffs can arrange on a private jet that he'll have waiting in Washington D.C. this weekend.
"In an effort to further compel House Democrats to return to the State of Texas, I am chartering a plane that will be on standby in Washington, D.C. on Saturday," Phelan announced in an email. "I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plane and return to Austin in order to do the state's business. The State of Texas is waiting."
But Phelan has to know that the Democrats have substantial leverage now that they've never had in the past with Governor Greg Abbott's veto of the Legislature's entire budget for the next two years in revenge for the minority party maneuvering. With the funding in Article 10 set to cease on September 1, the Democrats have an incentive to boycott the current special session for as long as they possibily can to sandbag the GOP's plans for redistricting long enough to see if Abbott and the Republicans will blink.
A quartet of Democrats who are committee chairs on the House leadership team ignored the trash talk - ripping Phelan instead for the busting of Democratic State Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso from a prestigious position as the speaker pro tem. The Democrats warned Phelan that he could be on the brink of losing the support from minority party representatives who helped pave the way for his election to the dais in January.
"We know first hand that Speaker Tem Joe Moody has done more than any other member on the House Floor to protect our Chamber and the institution of the Texas House," according to a statement that Democratic State Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, Nicole Collier of Fort Worth, Garnet Coleman of Houston and Chris Turner - a Grand Prairie lawmaker who chairs the House Democratic Caucus. "It's unfortunate that Speaker Phelan has been uinable to do the same."
Moody, who's been in Washington since Monday with a significant number of fellow House Democrats, indicated that he had no regrets for taking a stand for democracy with the less of the title as a small price to pay.
"The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan," Moody said. "Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are."
With 67 Democrats in the west wing of the Capitol, a potential contender for speaker would only nine GOP votes if the minority party representatives were united behind him or her.
more to come ...