Last week, an Austin-area Democrat admitted that House Speaker Straus and his coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans which control the chamber will be on “Operation Slowdown” to prevent conservative reforms from happening.
In a downtown Austin speech to a tech industry crowd, State Rep. Celia Israel addressed liberal despondence surrounding Trump’s victory and what it would mean for distressed liberal activists in the upcoming legislative session.
Israel first discussed social issues, characterizing Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s conservative priorities as intentionally harmful to LGBT children. The lawmaker then went on to say Straus does not share the same priorities – and while the Senate will fast-track bills, the House will be where they go to die.
“We’ll be on Operation Slowdown,” Israel tells the group.
Conservatives who have watched their favorite reforms move through the process only to die in the annals of house procedure have known this for some time – but it’s still somewhat surprising to hear a member admit it so candidly.
What citizens sometimes forget is that the biggest obstacle to passing conservative reform usually isn’t a particular lawmaker—it’s the calendar. With only 140 days in Austin, issues that are pushed aside by lawmakers early in the session are almost always doomed to die.
By simply dragging their feet on the bill’s procedural hurdles, lawmakers can make it look like they’re doing something all while empowering Democrats to kill the legislation late in the process—as they did with pro-life insurance reform last session.
Such an occurrence is common in the Texas House where numerous reforms such as sanctuary cities, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, property taxes, union dues, and school choice were all killed by House leadership last session.
While establishment Republicans will point the blame at Democrats like Israel for these measures failing to be pass, the fault doesn’t lie with them. After all, they are simply Democrats making good on the liberal campaign promises. Rather, the culpability lies in complicit House Republicans who continue to support leadership that enables and empowers Israel and the rest of the Democrat Caucus to play an obstructionist role.
The fact that someone as unabashedly liberal as Israel is admitting that their faith in holding to their priorities is backed by House leadership is a telling admission about the coalition structure governing the House – and what conservatives can expect from Straus’ team this session.