Gov. Greg Abbott’s office is disputing allegations made by a Capitol gossip blog associated with House Speaker Joe Straus that he does not expect all twenty items on his agenda to pass during the special session.
On Monday, Abbott met with Texas House Republican members of the Texas Conservative Coalition concerning his 20-item special session agenda of conservative, pro-taxpayer reforms. According to the gossip blog, Abbott only intimated that he expected lawmakers to sign their names to his legislation, not that he would work to ensure the legislation receives a vote in the Texas House.
Sources at the meeting and in the governor’s office both strongly dispute the rumor pushed by the Straus website. One participant said some members were frustrated that Abbott was “too tough” in pushing them to support the special session agenda.
The claim by the Capitol gossip blog is merely the latest in a growing chorus from the Austin media that Abbott is not serious about actually passing all twenty of the items on his agenda, and that he will not call lawmakers back for subsequent special sessions should those items fail to pass.
The Austin media also claims Abbott has already backtracked from the strong, aggressive stance he took in a speech to the Texas Public Policy Foundation last week.
In that speech Abbott brushed off claims that he wasn’t serious about the special session by dismissing the idea lawmakers would adjourn after passing the sunset legislation and argued he had been “engaging directly with members of the Texas Legislature” in order to pass every item on his agenda.
However, it’s his remarks on holding lawmakers accountable that drew the most attention.
“I’m going to be establishing a list,” said Abbott. “We all need to establish lists that we publish on a daily basis to call people out – who is for this, who is against this, who has not taken a position yet. No one gets to hide.”
Since he made those remarks, Abbott has held up only part of the bargain. He has mentioned supporters of his legislation in interviews and on Twitter, but he has yet to mention any lawmakers who are opposed to the items included in his call—and the Austin media has started to notice.
Despite TPPF remarks, Abbott has made pretty clear in recent intvus if he publicly releases any kind of "list," it'll only be of supporters.
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) July 24, 2017
Despite the claims in the media, sources close to the governor’s office indicate he is “all-in” on his special session agenda, and conservatives should give Abbott the benefit of the doubt. However, Abbott must also squelch these rumors before they’re allowed to fester and kill his agenda of reform.
If House Republicans are allowed to believe Abbott doesn’t actually want to pass the bills he’s asked them to then they simply won’t pass them. And even if he’s serious about the reforms, but unwilling to call out lawmakers publicly or support primary challengers against them, they can continue to obstruct his agenda.
Grassroots conservatives across the state have rallied to the governor’s banner and are demanding the Texas Legislature #PassThemAll or suffer the consequences. They need their commanding general to lead them on the battlefield and mark their targets.