GOP Caucus Raises Specter of Issue Steal
with Foster Care Information Quest on TV
July 19, 2021
GOP lawmakers intensified efforts to bluff more than 55 Texas House Democrats back to Texas with a focus on policy in a fact-finding mission on foster care that they announced on Monday in the wake of a failed bid at high-dollar intimidation tactics this past weekend.
The Texas House Republican Caucus announced in an email this afternoon that its members will be huddling on Tuesday with state officials and private interests at a meeting complete with "B-role opportunity" for television crews to capture the event for broadcasts across the state.
While Republicans showed little interest in foster care for five months in regular session this year, they appear to be eager to make up for lost time by appropriating funds for human services and other major state needs that have received lip service at best in the GOP era here. But the Republicans have the luxury now of footing the bill for services that have gone ignored with COVID-19 stimulus funds that President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress approved earlier this year without a single GOP vote.
The foster care summit appears at first blush on paper to be more of a thinly-veiled scheme to pique the missing lawmakers' territorial instincts amid new concerns that Republicans could be stealing priorities from them in their absence throughout the past week with a quorum-crushing boycott on a controversial elections bill.
The briefing represents a shift back to a strategy based on shaming and guilt return after GOP Speaker Dade Phelan's foiled attempt to round up Democrats in Washington D.C. for a private charter flight back to Texas where he'd ordered them to return immediately the day before. The meeting on the foster care outlays are in a hurry to approve suggests that the House Republicans' foray into Tony Soprano theatrics could be done for now.
But GOP caucus leaders may be too savvy to think that they could really shame the Democrats into coming back for the sake of protecting bill sponsorship rights. The Republicans wouldn't be able to hold any hearings on the foster care bills that could be lining up to author until the Democrats come back to Texas where Governor Greg Abbott and the Republicans plan to have them arrested the moment they set foot in the state.
After giving Democrats ample incentive to prolong their return as long as possible, the House GOP Caucus is seeking now to create the appearance of Republicans working overtime in Austin while their partisan rivals lollygag in the nation's capital city as major celebrities in big demand for the past week.
The Republicans appear to be staging the foster care briefing for conservative primary voters who won't question their motives on an issue that wasn't a priority until its addition to the Abbott summer agenda on the eve of the current special session convened almost two weeks ago.
While the party faithful has been preoccupied with more sensational subjects like critical race theory, voter fraud and transgender participation in high school sports, GOP legislators plan to use the foster care funding meeting first and foremost to convey a separate message on the airways.
The informational gathering initiative will show that the Republicans are keeping their noses to the grindstone amid a collective dedication to making the world a better place for children who've been abandoned and dumped on the state. That will seem valiant compared to visions of runaway Democrats slugging Miller Lite in fancy hotel rooms before raising huge sums of donor cash on a lower floor with conference rooms.