A mostly mind-numbing day during which Democrats slow-played the local calendar by asking questions for just short of ten minutes on every bill ended with Republicans and Democrats defending their parliamentary maneuvers as being consistent with the rules of the House. Republican caucus chairman Taylor produced a lengthy list of signatures of members objecting to suspending the rules to taking bills up out of order. Their objections expired at 11:59 a.m. on May 23 but was immediately superseded by a similar list of members who made the same objection for May 24. This is trench warfare on the Western Front, 1914: two armies of equal strength facing each other with neither having sufficient armaments to vanquish the other. Kino Flores tried to get recognized in the nanosecond between the expiration of the first objection and the start of the second in the hope of being able to pass his bill implementing a constitutional amendment granting a homestead amendment to disabled veterans. Eiland, in the chair, explained that he could not recognize Flores because of the Republicans’ objections. Flores accused Eiland of breaking his word, a charge that appeared to be groundless. He also demanded that the names of the members who had objected be read aloud. Eiland said that the names had been placed in the Journal and were available for his inspection. Flores persisted by asking if Drew Darby was on the list. Then Harvey Hilderbran. Eiland would not respond to further inquiries, referring Flores to the Journal. Richard Raymond then defended the Democrats’ action and made a gratuitous reference to the “voter suppression bill.” The Democrats are in control of the calendar for the moment. They still have 72 hours to go until Tuesday midnight, the point at which Senate bills that have not passed the House on second reading die. But, as I have pointed out in previous posts, the Republicans have the governor’s office and the presiding officer of both houses, and they will control the process if there is a special session. I also noted the absence of many Democrats from the chubbing. Most of the chubbers over the past two days were male: Castro, England, Gutierrez, Martinez, Miklos, Moody, Turner, Ortiz, Burnam [Note to readers. I removed Vaught’s name. He was only at the front mike.] The only women I can recall seeing at the back microphone were Gonzales and Gonzalez Toureilles. The general absence of women and of talented younger members made me wonder whether the rank and file of the Democratic caucus was in agreement with the strategic decisions their leaders were making. The only uplifting moment in the long day came at the very end of the session, from Randy Weber. As the House prepared to adjourn for the evening, he went to the back microphone with a parliamentary inquiry: “Is the chair [Eiland] aware that he is doing a great job?”
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Weekly dispatches from the middle of the road of Texas politics.
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