He further stated that the members who fled to D.C. should have their leadership positions, i.e. committee chairmanships, stripped from them. While it’s the first time the governor has backed such a position, it’s not a new idea. Some conservative members of the legislature pushed for House leadership to appoint only Republicans to committee chairmanships — which failed during the House rules debate early in the regular session.
Last week, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) filed a proposed House rule amendment that would punish members who break quorum by stripping committee chairmanships and revoking seniority priviledges.
On Monday night, before Abbott backed the idea, newly elected Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi called for House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) to revoke chairmanships from the truant Democrats.
The governor called a special session and placed on its agenda 11 items ranging from election reform to social media censorship and a prohibition on biological males competing in female sports.
Democrats had threatened to break quorum again — repeating what they did on the final day of the regular session to kill election reform while also killing various other priority bills — saying that “all options are on the table.”
When Democrats made a spectacle of their quorum break, flying to Washington, D.C. in privately chartered aircraft, Abbott responded with a scathing rebuke.
“Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve. As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state,” he emphasized.
“Their constituents must not be denied these important resources simply because their elected representative refused to show up to work.”
Still up in the air is the question of Article X funding, the budget section that funds the legislature which Abbott vetoed after May’s walkout.
The new fiscal year begins on September 1, at which point no legislative funding would be available. Abbott called the July special session and stated he was giving the legislature the opportunity to restore its funding by “showing up and doing their job.”
The Texas House meets Tuesday at 10 a.m. and can issue a motion to call the House, ordering members to appear in the chamber which can trigger the Texas Department of Public Safety bringing members back.
But being out of state, Texas Democrats are out of reach of the state’s law enforcement — a position they say they’ll maintain until the current special session expires in early August.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.