When the State Republican Executive Committee voted on Saturday to censure Speaker Joe Straus, liberal commentators clambered to explain it away as being solely about the privacy legislation Straus obstructed and ultimately killed last year. Indeed, Straus’ own response following the resolution attacked the Republican grassroots, stating that he “expected these antics from some people when he opposed their bathroom bill and helped prevent the harm it would have brought our state.”
The response from Straus and the lapdog media ignores the actual text of the resolution approved by the SREC, which shows the party had ample reason to censure the five-term Speaker, and it had very little to do with the privacy act.
Rule 44 of the Republican Party bylaws states:
A County or Senatorial District Convention or a County or District Executive Committee may by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of those present and voting adopt a resolution censuring a Republican public or party office holder representing all or a portion of that County or District for three or more actions taken during the current biennium in opposition to the core principles of the Republican Party of Texas defined in the Preamble of the Party Platform as described in Rule No. 43A.
Once passed by a local party, the SREC can vote to affirm or reject the resolution statewide, also requiring a high threshold of 2/3 members to concur.
The Straus censure resolution, which was originally passed by the Bexar County Republican Party, Straus’ home county, contained not just one grievance or even the minimally required three. It contained six, including:
- Unilaterally adjourning the 85th special legislative session a day early, despite objection from members of the body.
- Ignoring the rules when he didn’t agree with policy by repeatedly refusing to recognize proper motions and procedures made by duly-elected representatives.
- Repeatedly appointing State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) as Chair of the State Affairs Committee and allowing him to obstruct and kill multiple pro-life bills, despite support from the body.
- Killing all school choice legislation.
- Unilaterally obstructing the Texas Privacy Act by refusing to refer it to committee.
The recurring theme in these points is that Straus was ultimately censured, not simply for opposing any one bill, but for his repeated obstruction of the legislative process. His actions resulted in conservative members being treated unfairly and conservative legislation being killed, often unilaterally, because of his desire to subvert and disregard the rules of the body for his own benefit.
The censure of Straus may have come as a surprise to the Austin establishment crowd, but for conservatives who have followed the process and seen priority legislation die time and time again at his hands, it’s been a long time coming.
The following is the complete text of the Bexar County resolution adopted by the SREC:
WHEREAS, Rule 44 of the Republican Party of Texas allows the Party to sanction a Republican office holder who takes three or more actions during a biennium in opposition to the core principles of the Republican Party of Texas platform; and
WHEREAS, Rep. Joseph R. Straus, III, as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, has abused the power of his office and his authority as speaker to usurp the power of the people’s duly elected representatives of the Texas House of Representatives, obstructed the agenda of Governor Abbott, and, taken more than three actions during this current biennium that are in opposition to the core principles of the Republican Party of Texas; and
WHEREAS, In disregard of House rules and the Texas Constitution Art. III, Sec 12(c), an act described by Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick as “walking off the job,” Straus unilaterally adjourned the Texas House of Representatives early on August 15, 2017 during the First Called Session of the Texas Legislature without a vote of our duly elected Representatives despite the objections and demands for a record vote of at least 17 members of the House of Representatives; and
WHEREAS, During the 85th legislative session, Straus repeatedly refused to recognize proper motions and amendments made by the people’s duly elected representatives, only allowing motions and amendments to proceed when he consented to their substance; likewise Straus set aside parliamentary procedure to deny representatives the right to appeal his parliamentary rulings; and
WHEREAS, Such actions impede and make a mockery of representative government and thereby contradict the principles enshrined in the Texas Constitution and in opposition to the first and fourth core principles of the Republican Party of Texas removing the people from control of their government through their representatives by sabotaging those representatives sworn duty to control the legislature through orderly motions and votes, and thereby violating the third core principle of the Republican Party of Texas; and
WHEREAS, Straus acted during the 85th legislative session in opposition to the second core principle of the Republican Party of Texas by repeatedly obstructing legislation designed to protect the right to life; the foremost right for which governments are established to protect; and
WHEREAS, For the 85th Legislature, he appointed as Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee State Representative Byron Cook, who has been outspoken in his defense of certain third trimester abortions, who repeatedly killed pro-life bills, with likely majority support, in past regular sessions, with many pro-life bills referred by the Speaker to Cook’s committee blocked including amongst these, House Bill 14 during the First Called Session, which Cook obstructed administratively for 17 days, causing its demise; and
WHEREAS, Straus acted repeatedly during the 85th legislative session in opposition to the seventh core principle of the Republican Party of Texas by obstructing legislation designed to secure the freedom of choice for Texas parents in the education of their children, appointed as Chairman of the House Public Education Committee State Representative Dan Huberty, who has vociferously opposed all legislation that would give parents choice in their child’s education; and
WHEREAS, After his appointment, Huberty publicly announced all school choice bills “dead on arrival” in his committee, yet Straus proceeded to refer all bills giving greater parental choice in education to Huberty’s committee; Huberty and Straus did proceed to kill such bills, including legislation designed to give greater choice to the parents of children with special needs; and
WHEREAS, Straus has taken actions in opposition to the sixth, eighth, and ninth core principles of the Republican Party of Texas by unilaterally obstructing the Texas Privacy Act, legislation designed to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of Texas women and children and honor the principles of the free market by refusing to refer the bill to any committee for the duration of the regular session and refusing to allow members to make motions to refer the bill themselves ; and
WHEREAS, Texas House Rule 13, Section 2, provides that “[s]enate bills announced [in the House] as passed shall be read for the first time and referred to the appropriate committee as soon as practicable,” and Texas House Rule 7 reserves to the members of the House the right to refer and re-refer bills to a committee of the body’s choosing; and
RESOLVED, In accordance with Rule 44 of the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas, the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Bexar County, meeting December 11, 2017, a quorum being present, by a vote of at least two-thirds present and voting, hereby censure Joseph R. Straus, III, a public office holder representing a portion of Bexar County; and be it further
RESOLVED, We request that the State Republican Executive Committee and the delegates to the next State Convention of the Republican Party of Texas concur in this resolution of censure and impose on Joseph R. Straus, III, the penalties provided in Rule 44 of the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas; and be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared and transmitted to the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.