When Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced committee assignments last week, he also made another declaration—liberal Democrat State Rep. Joe Moody (El Paso) will once again serve as the speaker pro tempore.

As prescribed by the rules of the Texas House, the speaker pro tempore position is given to a trusted lieutenant at the speaker’s pleasure. The speaker pro tempore shall, in the speaker’s absence, “call the House to order and perform all other duties of the chair in presiding over the deliberations of the House and perform other duties and exercise other responsibilities as may be assigned by the speaker.”

In 2019, then-Speaker Dennis Bonnen appointed Moody to be his speaker pro tempore, a notable move due to his membership in the opposite party.

With Moody’s reappointment, Phelan is continuing Bonnen’s precedent. 

An outspoken liberal since entering the Legislature in 2009, Moody hangs a banner in his office accusing Republicans of racist intent for passing Senate Bill 4—the ban on sanctuary cities that passed during the 2017 regular session. 

Moody is also a longtime proponent of gun control and authored “red-flag” legislation that would allow courts to confiscate Texans’ guns without notice or a hearing and extend such an order for up to two years without giving the accused a right to a jury or a right of appeal.

In November of last year, Moody launched his own short-lived campaign for speaker, capitalizing on hype over a possible Democrat takeover of the Texas House.

Even in recent weeks, Moody has launched vicious attacks against Republicans. 

When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s executive order halting deportations, Moody didn’t just say he disagreed on policy, but rather, he referred to Paxton’s actions as “hateful fear-mongering” and suggested his rhetoric led to the fatal shooting in El Paso in 2019.

In recent weeks, Moody has called U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a “sycophant and a coward.”

Additionally, Moody was appointed by Phelan to serve as the vice chair of the House Calendars Committee, the gatekeeping committee that largely determines which bills ultimately receive votes on the floor of the House.

Upon receiving the appointment from Phelan, Moody said he was honored by both Phelan’s and the members of the Legislature’s trust, referring to the speaker pro tempore position as the “the No. 2 spot in the chamber.”

“This [is] one of the most difficult times Texas has ever faced: a pandemic in a state with the highest uninsured rate in America, families dealing with unemployment and shuttered neighborhood schools, a civil rights crisis rocking our justice system,” said Moody. “The stakes are everything, so it’s crucial that we put aside political posturing and come together to meet Texans’ basic needs. Every step I take will be with that goal in mind.”

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens

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