87th LegislatureState HouseState SenateTrump Threatens Texas House Speaker With Primary Challenge Over Election Audit Bill

Donald Trump called on House Speaker Dade Phelan to move legislation requiring an audit of the 2020 election.
October 10, 2021
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Former President Donald Trump has ramped up political pressure on Texas lawmakers to pass out a broad audit of the 2020 general election, specifically criticizing House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

“Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan is another Mitch McConnell,” said Trump. “He is not fighting for the people of Texas.”

Trump urged Phelan to act on Senate Bill (SB) 47, legislation from Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) that would require an audit of the 2020 election results.

SB 47 was approved last week in the Texas Senate in a 17 to 14 vote, with all Republicans but Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) voting in favor of it.

Notably, though the Senate approved the bill, the subject has not been placed on the agenda by Gov. Greg Abbott.

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While lawmakers may pass legislation on any subject during the regular session that occurs every other year, the short special sessions called by the governor during the interim — including the current one — restrict legislation to only the topics set by the governor.

Trump sent a letter to the governor a few weeks ago urging him to add an election audit to the agenda, but Abbott has not acquiesced to the request.

However, Abbott did add another related item to the agenda: increasing the penalty for illegal voting after it was lowered when the legislature passed the major election reform bill earlier this year.

The Senate approved a bill to achieve just that, which passed on the same day as SB 47 in an 18 to 13 vote with all Republicans supporting the measure.

But Phelan opposed Abbott’s addition, saying that “now is not the time to re-litigate” and that the House would remain focused on redistricting.

In his statement on Saturday, Trump also criticized Phelan’s opposition to the measure to increase the penalty for illegal voting.

“While standing in the way of a real election audit, Speaker Phelan just weakened the penalty for voting illegally in the state of Texas from a felony to a misdemeanor, siding with the Democrats and calling their amendment that makes a mockery of our election laws ‘thoughtful,’” said Trump. “After the 2020 Presidential Election Scam we need tougher penalties for cheating in our elections, not weaker ones.”

With his influence over the Republican Party, Trump insinuated that if Phelan does not act on the audit measure, he could face a primary challenge from the right in the next election.

“Texans are tired of Phelan’s weak RINO leadership in the State House. Texas is a very red state, even more than people know.”

“If this doesn’t pass soon, we look forward to seeing him in the Texas primary. It will get done one way, or the other!”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.