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First Phelan Failed, Now He Has Lost Control

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may be calling the shots in House too

Now that enough lawmakers have returned to conduct House business, it appears that Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has once again lost control on the issue that caused all the problems in the first place.

Phelan’s plea: Don’t call our racist actions racism.

House Speaker Dade Phelan made it clear that he knowingly signed off on a racist election bill earlier today when he asked House members to not use the word “racism” when speaking against the legislation. It was a pathetic display that insults every Texan. Racists aren’t often exposed by the words they use these days. They are exposed by their actions. The actions Dade is taking today are overtly racist.

Broken Quorum Phelan’s Fault

When Democrats left the House floor last month, the resulting lack of a quorum to do business was Speaker Dade Phelan’s failure. The responsibility to form a quorum always falls on the majority party; it’s not the responsibility of the minority to participate in one. In Texas, every member of the minority party is the candidate of choice of minority voters. When Phelan allowed decorum, respect, and civility to break down so badly that enough left to deny a quorum, it wasn’t a Democratic walkout — it was members who represent minority Texans being pushed out.

After publicly pledging many times that he would work cooperatively with absent members upon their return, and after securing his speakership through trust and past relationships, Phelan has either blatantly betrayed House colleagues and publicly lied, lost control of the House to forces aligned with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, or both.

Return to Jim Crow Racism

Rather than bringing the House version of the election bill to the floor, Phelan has allowed—or been forced to allow—the bill to be substituted for a version that more closely aligns with the Senate bill that includes even more suppressive and discriminatory provisions than the House bill.

Beyond the obvious attack on basic voter rights and opting for what can easily and fairly be called a Jim Crow-era bill, Dade Phelan has apparently collapsed to the worst, most destructive voices within the Republican Party.

Bottom Line

The dishonesty and racial hostility from Phelan have been on display since the beginning of his Speakership, and it continues into this special session. He and the rest of the House GOP have lied, misdirected, and betrayed in order to adopt discriminatory Jim Crow-era voting laws. Two quorum breaks by Members who represent minority voters makes it clear that the discriminatory actions taken by Abbott, Patrick and Phelan are clearly done with discriminatory intent.

The bottom line is that Dade Phelan has always been on board to pass voter suppression legislation designed to be intentionally racially discriminatory. It’s no surprise that he’s gone against his word to work with all members in the House and is working hand-in-glove with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

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