Conservatives will get a meeting of the House Republican Caucus in which they can advance proposals to reform the process by which a House Speaker is chosen, but it won’t have any impact on the current special session.
A full week after fourteen conservative members of the Texas House sent a letter to House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker of Flower Mound requesting a meeting, he has finally responded, calling a meeting of Republican members the day after the conclusion of the special session on August 16.
“As you know, members of the House Republican Caucus are currently focused on working to successfully address the conservative special session agenda. Therefore, I hereby call a meeting of the caucus, as requested, to be held on Thursday, August 17th at 9:00 am,” wrote Parker in a letter to House Republicans this morning.
Despite the flowery rhetoric, the House Republican Caucus isn’t “focused on working to successfully address the conservative special session agenda” it’s focused on preserving House Speaker Joe Straus and his control of the chamber so that he can obstruct the conservative special session agenda.
Parker’s decision is a flagrant violation of the caucus by-laws – which require Parker to hold a hearing within seven days following a request of ten or more members – and it’s also an intentionally spiteful and dilatory maneuver designed to punish the members who requested the meeting.
With the meeting held after the special session, conservative lawmakers will have no chance to reform processes or perhaps personnel while it can still make a difference. Instead, they’ll be forced to sacrifice yet another day with their families after spending 170 days in Austin so far this year.
And even if they stick around, Parker’s decision gives fence-sitters license to get out of town and avoid having to actively decide whether they will stand in support of House leadership or move to overthrow Straus.
Republicans of all shapes, sizes, and stripes should condemn Parker for his contempt of his own colleagues and the rules governing his caucus. Rather than step forward to lead them in the fight to advance the interest of Republicans across the state, he has moved to obstruct them and carry water for House Speaker Joe Straus.
House Republicans should attend the meeting Parker has called on August 17th. But before they begin debate on the process to select the House Speaker, they should move a vote of no confidence in Chairman Parker and replace him with someone who will be an actual leader instead of a do-nothing class president.