Grassroots count: Quorum of GOP members will be at Speaker meeting

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Julie McCarty
Julie McCarty

When the House Republican Caucus meets to discuss a plan to pick the next Speaker of the House, a quorum will be attending and likely more, according to a well-known grassroots activist.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we shall have a quorum! Need 46, have 54 plus a lot of maybes,” Tea Party activist Julie McCarty posted on her Facebook page late Monday. “You guys rock! Way to get it done!”

McCarty's Facebook Post
McCarty’s Facebook post.

McCarty, the president of the North East Tarrant Tea Party — one of the largest Tea Party groups in Texas — told The Texas Monitor Tuesday that it was a grassroots effort that gathered the commitments from state House members across Texas.

“We had a statewide effort,” McCarty said. “It was all grassroots.”

The meeting had originally been scheduled for Thursday, but is now scheduled for 8:30 am Wednesday, according to a posting from the Quorum Report.

Securing the meeting was important for conservatives in the House because it may lay the groundwork to oust House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio who has served in the House’s top job since he was elected to the post in 2009.

The conventional wisdom is that with all the House Republicans voting for their choice for Speaker instead of moving to the full House where Democrats can also cast a Speaker vote, there is a better chance for conservatives to pry Straus from his seat.

If a quorum attends the meeting it may suggest that House Republicans are leaning in that direction.

Straus has been criticized by Tea Party conservatives for being too moderate as well as for how he first was elected Speaker with the help of Democrats. Straus has also appointed Democrats to key House committees.

The Texas Freedom Caucus called earlier this month for a meeting. They are a small coalition of House members unhappy with the moderate path the Texas House leadership has taken.

Texas Freedom Caucus chief Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, declined to comment on McCarty’s quorum count, noting that he will know if there is a quorum or not when he attends the caucus meeting.

It’s not just a Republican fringe that supports the GOP caucus picking its Speaker before a full vote, state Republican Party members want that, too.

Texas Republican Chairman James Dickey told The Texas Monitor last week:

The Republican Party of Texas does have a plank that the members of the House Republican Caucus choose the Speaker within the caucus before then going onto the floor vote. The Republican Caucus having a meeting to decide the rules under which they would do such a vote seems like a perfectly appropriate and necessary step towards doing what the platform asks to be done.

Still, it’s unclear what may happen.

If Schaefer and his allies are not successful in their effort to have House Republicans as a body make the pick for Speaker, there may be consequences for them.

Indeed, the House Speaker in Texas has tremendous power. The Speaker can bestow committee chairmanships, and pick members for choice committee assignments. A Speaker can easily — and without his or her fingerprints on the effort — bottle up legislation so it never sees the light of day or make sure bills get the go-ahead for a quick vote.

Being Speaker also provides the opportunity to raise far more money in campaign contributions, meaning that money can also be provided to allies of the Speaker.

The last time Straus faced a challenger was in 2015. Straus easily bested Tea Party favorite Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco.

The last contested vote before that was in 1975.

A defeat would not surprise McCarty, she said.

“I was told from the get-go this was a long shot,” she said. “It would be awesome if we get what we want.”

Still, the fact that the meeting was called is a step forward, McCarty said.

“Regardless of what happens Wednesday morning, it’s a win for us,” she said. “One hundred percent.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

62 COMMENTS

  1. This is getting old
    If you do not agree with a dem you are a white supremacist.
    Look at history dems are the white supremacist kkk
    Robert Bird grand kligagle , the Republican party freed the slaves Rrpublican party fought for civil rights democrats are the ones that fought it they where the ones that hung turned dogs loose turned firehose on civil rights protesters.
    That is the truth that is why they are trying to change history.
    So now I will be called names becuse you can not dispute facts so now attack the messenger.
    Come prove my point

  2. Is McCarty is unintelligent as Donna Campbell? Then the Republicans have a problem. And yes the Koch Brothers push their agenda using ALEC. How many bills over the last two decades came from ALEC. Where do you think the voter id crap came from and why it showed up in so many states at the same time. And daddy Koch was John Birch Society look them up.

    • The label “RINO” is the death of the party. If we need to be in conservative lockstep to be Republicans, we will die out and shrink to nothing. We are already the party of rural blue hairs – don’t litmus test out all libertarians and moderates.

    • Beccy Tompkins Kerns, I do pay attention and have a deep understanding of Texas politics. Straus isn’t a radical, which is a good description for the Freedom Caucus. That group is fringe, not majority. Changing the way a Speaker of the House is chosen to suit their point of view smacks of Washington-style partisan politics, which is ruining the country. We don’t need fringe groups dictating to everyone in society.

    • I am a democrat and not supportive of the Texas Governor or the likes of Patrick, but at least Strauss has common sense and a bit of moxie to oppose this stupid Potty Bill. The GOP’s reproductive rights infringement bills are deplorable, but dumping Strauss would strip the party of its remaining vestiges of respectability. We shall see if the fools prevail.

    • This what your hero’s did to Texas.

      “Empower Texans and the Neo Tea Party at work. They will brag about how much money they saved you, but they will neglect to warn you that education cost will remain about the same and that you will pay for that cost with local property taxes. The rich and the ultra rich in Texas will get more rich and you will hurt much more.

      “The Texas House voted 94 to 46 this evening to accept a stripped-down Senate version of HB 21 on school funding. The Senate amendments to HB 21 eliminated $1.5 billion of the $1.8 billion in the House-passed version, completely eliminating the main sources of any new aid to cash-strapped urban districts–a proposed increase in the basic allotment and in bilingual-education aid. Removing these two funding streams means the bill does nothing to ease burdens on the vast majority of local property-tax payers, who have been forced by the state to shoulder an ever-rising share of the cost of public education. Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) spoke for many when she said this bare-bones version of HB 21 is a “pretend” fix for school finance.

      What sold a majority of the House on this bill was the Senate’s insertion of health-care cost relief for TRS retirees into HB 21. In effect, the Senate gave the House an ultimatum: Approve this urgently needed aid for retirees along with the rest of HB 21 or risk losing it in a last-minute tussle over a separate bill pending before the House, SB 16. The TRS-Care portion of HB 21 will provide $212 million to reduce the increase in retirees’ outlays for health-care deductibles and premiums in the TRS-Care health plan.”

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