Throwing what can best be described as a wide-ranging temper tantrum in the face of unease among his inner-circle, House Speaker Joe Straus on Wednesday lashed out at many of Gov. Greg Abbott’s marquee proposals and attacked the conservative Senate led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Reports have surfaced that Straus’ bizarre committee assignments have upset his cronies. Expecting to lead Appropriations, liberal State Rep. John Zerwas of Houston was instead put in charge of the higher ed committee. That’s the post Denton moderate Myra Crownover allegedly coveted – but she instead was placed on the Committee on Public Health. Other loyalists found themselves totally locked out – like Straus’ Bexar County neighbor, anti-tax-cut Republican Lyle Larson – without any chairmanships.

Meanwhile, the Texas Senate is moving quickly on a series of bold reforms – from significant tax relief to Second Amendment protections and border security – championed by Abbott and other conservatives in 2014. (Of course, as some might recall Straus’ allies promised even then to oppose Abbott/Patrick and instead deliver a “progressive” agenda.)

Feeling pressure building from inside his chamber, Straus instead lashed out at conservative reforms he feels he cannot stop on the sly.

Most notable is the Abbott proposal dedicating the state’s Motor Vehicle Sales Tax to funding road and bridge construction, an effort that has found a champion in State Sen. Robert Nichols who Patrick tapped to lead the Senate Committee on Transportation. In fact, it’s a plan many House members have also long supported.

But Straus today described it as a “gimmick.” Why? Because… Well, it’s not clear except that Straus wants to increase taxes. His description echoed Larson’s comments last week that Republicans trying to do tax relief (that’d be Abbott, Patrick, and Senate Finance Committee chair Jane Nelson) were engaged in “gimmickry.”

Straus is still reeling from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s proposal to fully fund the border security initiative that Straus himself killed late last year. While then-Gov. Rick Perry and then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wanted to fully fund the mission through August 2015, Straus refused thereby forcing a National Guard drawdown from what had been a successful deployment.

Now Abbott, Patrick and a near-super-majority in the Senate are ready to put border security back on the table and boots back on the ground, as was reported yesterday at Breitbart Texas.

It’s hard to find an issue where Straus did not attack Abbott, Patrick, and the conservative movement. (Straus now says he opposes “campus carry” and that he wants to keep giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens. He is also fine with continuing funding for the Democrat-run Travis County Public Integrity Unit that has been used to attack conservative officeholders.)

Straus has two big internal problems: one, he betrayed his inner circle and closest allies with his committee assignments; and, two, he has in one fell swoop betrayed all those “conservative” enablers who thought appeasement would give them leverage to push right-leaning reforms. He has now taken those all off the table.

An even bigger external problem for Straus and those enablers is that, unlike the past, the Senate is led by a movement conservative unwilling to cower before the liberal bullies or provide cover for their cronyism.

Those in the appeasement wing of the House GOP caucus were warned by a unanimous chorus of grassroots activists that legislators supporting Straus’ obstructionist agenda would regret owning the chamber’s results. It might now be dawning on those state reps that they made a recklessly bad betAnd it is only five weeks into the legislative session.

(Copied below are the names of all the Republicans who voted to keep Joe Straus as speaker, and who all therefore can be assumed to endorse his positions unless they demonstrate otherwise.)

Republicans Who Voted For Joe Straus

1VanDeaver, GaryClarksville
2Flynn, DanCanton
3Bell Jr., CecilMagnolia
8Cook, ByronCorsicana
9Paddie, Christopher "Chris"Marshall
10Wray, JohnWaxahachie
11Clardy, TravisNacogdoches
12Kacal, KyleCollege Station
14Raney, JohnCollege Station
16Metcalf, WillConroe
17Kleinschmidt, Tim (resigned House seat the day after voting for Straus)Lexington
18Otto, JohnDayton
19White, JamesWoodville
20Farney, MarshaGeorgetown
21Phelan, DadeBeaumont
23Faircloth, WayneDickinson
24Bonnen, GregFriendswood
25Bonnen, DennisAngleton
26Miller, RickSugar Land
28Zerwas, JohnRichmond
29Thompson, EdPearland
30Morrison, Geanie W.Victoria
32Hunter, ToddCorpus Christi
43Lozano, Jose ManuelKingsville
44Kuempel, JohnSeguin
45Isaac, Jason A.Dripping Springs
47Workman, PaulAustin
52Gonzales, LarryRound Rock
53Murr, AndrewJunction
54Aycock, Jimmie DonKilleen
56Anderson, Charles "Doc"Waco
57Ashby, TrentLufkin
58Burns, DeWayneCleburne
59Sheffield, J.D.Gatesville
60Keffer, James "Jim"Eastland
61King, PhilWeatherford
62Phillips, LarrySherman
63Parker, TanFlower Mound
64Crownover, MyraDenton
65Simmons, RonCarrollton
68Springer, DrewMuenster
69Frank, JamesWichita Falls
71King, Susan L.Abilene
72Darby, DrewSan Angelo
73Miller, DougNew Braunfels
81Landgraf, BrooksOdessa
82Craddick, TomMidland
84Frullo, JohnLubbock
85Stephenson, PhilWharton
86Smithee, JohnAmarillo
87Price, Walter T. "Four"Amarillo
88King, KenCanadian
89Laubenberg, JodieParker
97Goldman, CraigFort Worth
98Capriglione, GiovanniSouthlake
99Geren, CharlieFort Worth
102Koop, LindaDallas
107Sheets, KennethDallas
108Meyer, MorganDallas
112Button, Angie ChenRichardson
113Burkett, CindySunnyvale
114Villalba, JasonDallas
117Galindo, RickSan Antonio
121Straus, JoeSan Antonio
122Larson, LyleSan Antonio
126Harless, PatriciaSpring
127Huberty, DanHouston
128Smith, WayneBaytown
129Paul, DennisHouston
130Fletcher, AllenCypress
132Schofield, MikeKaty
133Murphy, JimHouston
134Davis, SarahWest University Place
135Elkins, Gary W.Houston
136Dale, TonyCedar Park
138Bohac, DwayneHouston
144Pena, GilbertPasadena
150Riddle, DebbieTomball
144Pena, GilbertPasadena
150Riddle, DebbieTomball

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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