The move comes after Moody was one of nearly 60 Democrats that fled to Washington, D.C. to break quorum and kill a GOP election reform bill.
Phelan did not immediately release a statement, but cited House Rule 1, Section 10 for the move, which reads: “The speaker shall have the right to name any member to perform the duties of the chair related to presiding over the deliberations of the house and may name a member to serve as speaker pro tempore by delivering a written order to the chief clerk and a copy to the journal clerk.”
The speaker pro tempore is a largely ceremonial position but serves as second-in-command in case the speaker is not present. The spot is often given to the person considered the leader of the minority party, in this case, the Democrats.
Moody responded, saying on Twitter, “The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan. Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are.”
Phelan on Wednesday called for the truant legislators to return their per diem funding given to them since they have broken quorum.
Newly elected Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, who pointed to the rule and called for Moody to be removed earlier this week, told The Texan, “Speaker Phelan’s decision to remove fleeing Democrat Joe Moody from the second-ranking leadership position in the House was the right move and we applaud it.”
“We hope the Speaker will continue to use every tool at his disposal to secure the attendance of absent members, including but not limited to removing all Democrat committee chairs breaking quorum, so that our important GOP priorities can be passed.”
When asked by Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) during Tuesday’s House proceedings, Phelan said that without a quorum the House cannot move forward with revoking chairmanships even if they wanted to.
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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.