With 16 days left in the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature, the moderate (at best) Republican leadership in the Texas House of Representatives is blaming the death of Pro-Life bills on the conservative members of the Texas House.
The deadline to pass House bills out of the Texas House was Thursday, May 11, at midnight—by which time the conflict between the conservatives and liberal Republicans reached the boiling point. Just hours before that midnight deadline—when true leaders would be fostering collegiality for efficiency and success for all—House leadership launched personal attacks against dozens of conservative members, stoking the political embers into a full blown conflagration. In response to leadership eating their own, the House Freedom Caucus quickly rebounded with plans to achieve a key legislative goal by running out the clock with floor debate (called “chubbing”) and killing a spate of bills set for the Local and Consent Calendar for Friday, May 12.
Much to the vexation of the lukewarm House leadership, the House Freedom Caucus are the ONLY ones seizing every opportunity to gain Pro-Life victories. Whether strengthening weak abortion-related bills on the floor (such as HB 2962 on Thursday or upcoming Sunset bills) or filing Pro-Life amendments to a variety of other bills including the state’s budget bill, the Freedom Caucus leads and coordinates life-saving efforts.
1. House leadership has slow walked Pro-Life legislation since Day One
The biggest threat to good legislation is the clock. House Leadership has used the clock to slowly kill life-saving legislation throughout this 85th Session. Read here and here about how leadership has obstructed passage of the most important Pro-Life bills at every step in the legislative process. They have purposefully delayed referrals to committees, promised hearings, demanded rewrites, delayed votes, and more. This is no surprise. Conservatives have seen these same stall tactics before. In fact, Texas Right to Life and the Freedom Caucus held a press conference to draw attention to such shenanigans earlier this month.
2. House leadership dragged their feet leading up to a critical deadline
Despite the looming midnight deadline for passage, House leadership was in no hurry to finish the calendar from last week so as to clear the time for this week. Todd Hunter, Chair of the House Committee on Calendars, continued to schedule bills for each following day despite the increasing backlog, stacking no less than 274 bills to be debated by the House on Thursday before midnight. In fact, on Thursday, May 11, the day’s business began with bills originally scheduled for Monday, May 8. Even more appalling, despite already being in town and in the Capitol, plus already ruining the weekend for their staff members, the House adjourned at 3:00 p.m. last Saturday and didn’t even meet on Sunday – which is normal to do at this point in session – and punched out at 7:45 p.m. on Monday, leaving hundreds of bills languishing and their respective sponsors anxious.
Yet each and every day, precious minutes and hours on the clock were still allocated for longwinded introductions of guests of honor, visitors from home districts, and graduating interns, politically-charged lectures guised as personal privilege speeches, and more blathering and bloviating while the House clock ticked. Additionally, House leadership enabled the Democrats in the House to chub throughout this entire week as the hard deadline approached.
3. Leadership reserved time for pork and fluff, but not Life
In the final week before the deadline to pass House bills, the Texas House would not prioritize legislation that would protect preborn children and their mothers. However, Texans can rest easy knowing these fluff issues were addressed on the taxpayers’ clock: Whistles on boats, NASCAR, regulating baseball bats, secondhand watches, bingo, and emojis. Some of the authors of these bills would likely have yielded their time to Pro-Life policies, but leadership never offered them that chance.
4. Leadership scheduled fake Life-sounding bills for a floor vote
Leadership should have moved bills supported by a majority of House members, not the fake, do-nothing bills. Instead HB 2962 that codified existing abortion reporting regulations and HB 3771 that redefined abortion with confusing and contradictory language were set for floor debate. Thankfully, members of the Freedom Caucus, Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) and Representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Coppell), offered strengthening amendments to improve these bills; however, the bills are still regulatory and do not offer real protection to pregnant women or their unborn children.
5. Leadership refused motions to bring Pro-Life bills up for a vote
The rules of the Texas House allow for any member to make a motion to suspend the rules to consider an eligible bill out of order. If the House leadership had the intestinal fortitude and political will to do so, they would now be heralded across the state for protecting innocent human Life. Of course, such a maneuver would exacerbate the unrest of the anti-Life Democrats, and perhaps other House members would also want special treatment for their bills. But no other matter demands the unprecedented moral courage required when saving those being led to their slaughter. Nothing is more important than the Pro-Life cause.
Not a single life-saving bill has reached the Governor’s desk because of the leadership of the Texas House of Representatives. If Pro-Life activists do not send a clear message, the Texas Legislature will not have taken one single action to save the 110,000 preborn children who will die in abortion facilities before your elected officials return to Austin for the 2019 86th Session of the Texas Legislature.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the Texas Senate passed two major Pro-Life priorities early in this session. Despite best efforts of the Freedom Caucus and conservative Pro-Life House members, House leadership has shown that their priorities do not reflect the Pro-Life priorities of the majority of Texans.