After being caught suspending the rules in order to help Democrats, many Republicans are in hot water with their constituents. Taking to social media, many of them have sought to obfuscate their actions by “fact-checking” their critics and accompanying it with a parade of excuses and half-truths.
These lawmakers are sacrificing their own credibility and integrity in an attempt to mislead both themselves and their voters, rather than confront the harsh reality of their decision. While these lawmakers believe their actions are those of statesmen, they’re much more akin to those of servants and sycophants.
Here are the facts:
After House Leadership pulled a fast one on conservatives and rushed to hear a major school finance bill with less than 24 hours’ notice, many resolved that they wouldn’t be so easily caught unaware again.
Keeping close watch on the business before the House, State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) objected to a rushed motion by State Rep. Hugh Shine (R–Belton) to suspend the House rules and fast-track legislation authored by the chairman of the Democrat Caucus, State Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington.
While neither Cain nor even Shine knew the substance of the HJR 56 at the time that he objected, it turned out to be a doozy. Rather than simple, routine legislation, Turner’s resolution was a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the state’s minimum wage by a significant margin.
Cain was stunned.
“It is incredibly shocking to see Democrat platform priorities be fast-tracked through the Texas House while Gov. Abbott’s priorities and those of the Republican Party of Texas are languishing without even a hearing,” said Cain yesterday. “Voters elected us to enact limited government reforms that expand Texans’ opportunities, not to support a liberal and crippling economic agenda.”
The House was then brought to a standstill as Cain stuck with his opposition to the motion and conservatives rallied around him arguing that the House shouldn’t be suspending the rules to help Democrats.
But the vast majority of Republicans joined Democrats to overrule conservatives’ objections and do Democrats’ handiwork.
So what’s their excuse?
“This was just to correct a clerical matter,” said one. “This happens quite frequently and is usually done as a matter of courtesy” said another. A lawmaker who even voted with Cain called the vote a “nothingburger” in order to downplay the actions of his colleagues.
In a sense, they’re correct in regard to House custom.
The Texas House routinely suspends the rules in order to move legislation along and keep the wheels of government turning. It’s also true that Turner’s constitutional amendment was a companion to HB 924 which had already been scheduled for a hearing and that both items are typically heard together at the same committee hearing.
But just because it’s “business as usual,” just because it’s “customary,” just because it’s “courteous” does not mean it’s conservative.
Indeed, it is a recent custom of the Texas House to marginalize conservatives and promote the Democratic minority. It is routine for conservatives to have their rights to bring motions, engage in debate, and offer amendments stifled. Meanwhile a majority of the Democrats are appointed as chairman or vice-chairmen of committees, and the anti-conservative leadership engages in kabuki theater to mislead Texans.
However, the truth is that Democrats routinely break from House custom in order to sabotage the Republican agenda.
Just last session, Democrats objected to the exact same motion to suspend the posting rule on major conservative reforms. As a result, legislation to promote border security, protect pastors, and end the government collection of union dues all died in the Texas House as Democrats betrayed “courtesy” in order to push their agenda.
And only a few weeks ago, the Democrats objected to another routine suspension of the rules when conservatives sought a constitutionally-required vote on a floor for the Rainy Day Fund.
While those efforts were set up to fail by House leadership, perhaps they could have been passed if a greater number of lawmakers were the “conservative fighters” they claim to be on the campaign trail.
Perhaps Republican lawmakers would accomplish more policy goals if they were more concerned about passing Republican legislation than extending “courtesy” to duplicitous Democrats.
Votes like the one forced by Cain are a useful measuring stick for citizens because they separate those who are willing to stand up to the Democrat coalition and those who would rather carry their water.