The House Republican Caucus will meet next week to discuss — and possibly adopt — a plan to pick the next Speaker of the House, according to a Texas Freedom Caucus Facebook post published today.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker’s office confirmed the Aug. 17 meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. The caucus meeting will be private.
The scheduled meeting appears to be a success for the Texas Freedom Caucus, a small group of House members who have not been happy with a moderate path the Texas House leadership has taken.
“Great news,” the Aug. 10 post reads in part. “In response to our request to schedule a meeting of the House Republican Caucus for the sole purpose of discussing and/or adopting a procedure to determine our nominee for Speaker of the House, Chairman Tan Parker has scheduled a meeting… Now we need maximum attendance by all Republican members of the Texas House.”
The meeting comes in the wake of a letter signed more than a dozen Republican House members — spearheaded by the Texas Freedom Caucus — asking Chairman Parker to allow the Republican members of the House to choose the next Speaker for the session beginning in January 2019.
House Speaker Joe Straus, who has served in the House’s top job since he was elected to the post in 2009, 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 — and then appointing Democrats to key House committees.
The conventional wisdom is that with all the House Republicans voting for their choice for Speaker instead of the going to the full House first where Democrats can also cast a Speaker vote, there is a better chance for conservatives to pry Straus from his seat.
“Bold action is required to restore confidence in how a Republican Speaker is chosen,” Texas Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Matt Schaefer told The Texas Monitor. “This meeting is a step in the right direction. All Republican members of the Texas House are accountable for the part we play. That means showing up to this meeting. We need the right process before we select the right person.”
The Republican Party of Texas Convention, when it met in Dallas last year, voted its desire to have the Republican House Speaker candidate be chosen by the Republican House Caucus before going to the full House for a vote.
“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,” Texas Republican Chairman James Dickey told The Texas Monitor. “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.”
Dickey declined to comment on whether he believed that Straus would keep hold of the Speaker job, noting “the delegates to the convention specified the process they wanted to be followed, so our only priority is that the requested process be followed.”
This is the latest feud involving Straus.
He and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have faced off.
The two Republican leaders — who have traded barbs over issues like the “bathroom bill” and school finance since the 30-day special legislative session began — have a history of frosty relations.
And so have Straus and Gov. Greg Abbott.
San Antonio’s own Joe Straus criticized Abbott’s artisanal, handheld menu of legislative issues, and likened the governor’s farm-to-fork entrées to manure-to-mouth table scraps.
Next Thursday, the Capitol will see if the House Republican Caucus will take a step in the direction of scrapping with Straus.
The Texas Monitor has asked the offices of both Parker and Straus if they wish to comment. We will update this story when they respond.
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.