88th LegislatureElections 2022FederalIssuesSpeaker Phelan Chides Trump for Blaming Midterm Losses on Republicans With ‘No Exceptions’ for Abortion

The former president criticized “those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother.”
January 2, 2023
Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) pushed back against a charge by former President Donald Trump that pro-life candidates are to blame for Republican losses in last year’s midterm elections.

Trump, who announced his 2024 campaign for the White House in November, commented on the 2022 election results in a post on the social media network he founded, Truth Social.

“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms. I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters,” Trump wrote.

“Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again. Plus, Mitch stupid $’s!”

Trump nominated three of the justices who decided in favor of the petitioners in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last year. The Supreme Court wrote in Dobbs that the Constitution does not grant an individual right to obtain an abortion. In doing so, the court reversed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 judgment that protected abortion rights for over 49 years.

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The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett during the Trump administration.

Numerous candidates Trump endorsed in the midterm primaries came up short in several states during the general election, which proved fatal for the GOP’s efforts to secure a Senate majority. In a social media post, Phelan ascribed Republicans’ failure to win the Senate to Trump’s endorsements.

“GOP has lost control of the Senate THREE cycles in a row & it was not the fault of the pro-life movement,” Phelan wrote. “It was your hand picked candidates who underperformed & lost ‘bigly’. May 2023-24 bring the GOP new leadership PROUD to protect the unborn.”

Phelan referred to the Human Life Protection Act of 2021, the “trigger law” that prohibited all abortions in Texas except to save the life of the mother or to prevent “substantial impairment of a major bodily function.” The law took effect 30 days after the Supreme Court issued its judgment in Dobbs.

Previously, Trump called Phelan “another Mitch McConnell” for declining to support legislation to require a full audit of the 2020 presidential election in Texas. Instead, the Texas secretary of state ordered an audit of Collin, Dallas, Harris, and Tarrant counties. The Texas Legislature also enacted a law that required an audit of four counties decided at random in future elections.

Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and others have expressed an inclination to revisit the abortion ban’s lack of exceptions for unborn children conceived in rape or incest. In remarks he made in September, Phelan himself seemed open to adding exceptions to the Human Life Protection Act.

Matt Rinaldi, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, agreed with Phelan’s rebuttal to Trump in a tweet of his own.

“Trigger law states where Dobbs effectively ended abortion: AR, ID, KY, LA, MS, MO, ND, OK, SD, TN, TX, UT & WY. The GOP performed well in all these states,” Rinaldi wrote. “Ohio passed a heartbeat law & the GOP won nearly every statewide election by 20 points. Dobbs wasn’t the problem.”

Rinaldi has been at odds with Phelan and other Texas Republicans over the speaker’s appointment of Democrats to committee chairmanships during the last legislative session. Though Phelan received the support of 78 Republicans in a recent vote in the Texas House GOP caucus, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) is running for speaker and has pledged to take his candidacy to the House floor on the first day of the session.

The Texas Legislature convenes on Tuesday, January 10.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."