Will school choice pass in Texas House during 3rd special session?

During the Wednesday night floor session of the Texas House, Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), who serves as the chair of the public education committee, said time is running out to pass school choice in the third called special session.

“It’s too tight for the House to be able to move something in this special,” Buckley said. “The House has rules and we are up against the timeline.”

Buckley mentioned he would be meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott’s team, and that the lower chamber would not be taking up the Senate’s school choice plan. “No, we’ll have a House plan,” he said.

These comments from Buckley came as a surprise to many, as earlier in the day Abbott said at a press conference that things were “on track to ensure there will not be another special session.”

“There is enough time to get everything done that we want to get done, that needs to get done, to avoid a special session, especially with what I think will be the bill that will be coming out of the House later on today.”

Abbott continued with a positive posture, stating that the new legislation would be “embraced” because “legislators will have so many wins in the bill” and that it “will be coming out today.”

The bill never came, but verbal jabs were thrown between the upper and lower chambers leadership that evening.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to social media to reiterate his disdain for the House’s legislative process, saying that “there is simply no time to start over with a new House bill.”

He continued that the Senate has passed school choice legislation “three times this year, and five times overall,” which Patrick said “required long hours in hearings and floor debate.”

“No time for that again.”

“The Senate is ready to act, as we have been for weeks,” he concluded.

Following Patrick’s direct implication of the House, Speaker Dade Phelan made his own countermove — through the procedural process on the floor of having the lower chamber stand at ease.

That order was not well received by some of the more conservative members of the House. Reps. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth), and Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) penned a letter condemning the action, writing that Phelan has “abused this informal practice in lieu of a proper recess or adjournment.”

“There are items on the Governor’s call which still require the House’s attention,” the letter states.

“We swore an oath to uphold the Texas Constitution, including the Constitution’s command that one chamber should not abandon the work of the legislature without the permission of the other … we wish to make our concern over the Speaker’s flagrant disregard of the Texas Constitution, our House Rules, and accepted House practice known.”

Texas Republicans have only continued their intra-party feud since things hit a fever pitch during Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial. A meeting between a conservative organization and anti-semite and right-wing gadfly Nick Fuentes sparked accusations of anti-semitism amid the Israel-Hamas conflict last month, which has only continued to fan the flames of discontent between the upper and lower chambers.

The public will now wait and see what the result will be for school choice. The third special session of the 88th Legislature will end on Tuesday, November 7.

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