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New Texas House Rules Set The Tone For A Combative Session

Republicans pass a house rule to hobble Democrats from blocking extremist legislation.

The fight over House Speaker was a small blip compared to yesterday’s House rules debate. Two major things happened. First, Republicans established harsh penalties for members who break quorum to block harmful legislation. Second, the new “Loser Caucus” established who they were and what they would do in this session.

The new rule, which would punish Democrats for breaking quorum, says: If a member is absent without leave to impede the action of the House, the member is subject to one or more of the following:

  • Fines
  • Payments of the cost incurred by the sergeant of arms
  • Reprimand proceeding
  • Censure proceeding
  • Expulsion
New House rule: no quorum breaking.

Unless the House excuses the fine paid by a majority vote, each member who is absent without leave is liable to the House a fine in the amount of $500 for each calendar day of absence and the member’s pro-rad of the share of the costs incurred by the sergeant of arms to secure attendance.

What does that mean?

That means if Republicans, who have the majority, vote for Texas to secede or vote to prohibit women from working in the state, Democrats will have no legislative tools available to them to prohibit the harmful legislation from being implemented. If the Democrats or a Democrat broke quorum to stop a terrible bill, they risk expulsion from the House (even though they were an elected official) and a fine of $500 per day.

The rule also clarified that the $500 could not come from campaign funds. Meaning it would have to come directly from the Representative’s pockets. (I don’t think it said anything about GoFundMe accounts, which likely don’t break the House rules.)

During the last quorum break, Democrats were in DC for around 30 days. That would have been a $15,000 fine for each of them out of their pockets. While there are plenty of millionaires in the Texas House, working-class folks don’t have an extra $15,000.

This rule hobbles Democrats in the House and will allow extremist legislation to pass.

The absurdity of the Loser Caucus.

That’s what I’m calling them, and what they forever will be known as consists of Bryan Slaton, Tony Tinderholt, and Nate Schatzline.

It all began last legislative session with Bryan Slaton. Last year, he was the first to make an issue out of Democrats holding chairmanships in the Texas House.

The House, for the most part, has always been bipartisan in nature. While Republicans and Democrats always fight on social issues;

Tuesday 1/10/23: Election for House Speaker

they almost always vote in unison on things like budget, taxes, infrastructure, etc. Committee chairs have always been appointed by expertise and seniority. Then Bryan Slaton came along.

Representative Slaton is a fascist and likely the furthest right ideologue in the House. At the beginning of the 87th Session, he tried to add a rule to ban Democratic chairs. The only person that voted with him was Jeff Cason, who was later drawn out of his district.

No one likes Bryan Slaton.

During the 87th Legislative session, both sides of the aisle mostly ignored him while mocking him behind his back. Slaton spent the entire session obsessing over transgender children’s genitals, which was gross and creepy. When his peers debated him, they talked to him like a child.

On one occasion, Slaton tried to add an amendment that would have had something to do with LGBTQ kids and cried tears when he spoke about Jeff Younger (the man from Coppell who lost custody of his daughter for refusing gender-affirming care and then going on a tour against LGBTQ youth).

While Slaton stood at the mic, blubbering like a baby about how Younger’s daughter was allowed to live as her authentic self, Tony Tinderholt stood at the back mic and consoled him. Slaton and Tinderholt became buddies after that. Last session, Tinderholt, and Jeff Cason were the only Republicans who would associate themselves with Slaton.

Cason is no longer in the House, but Nate Schatzline joined their fight this week to elect Tinderholt as speaker.

(For further reading: Dade Phelan Re-Elected House Speaker And Congress In Chaos)

Several far-right legislative items weren’t passed in the last session.

Those items were: protecting all Jim Crow-era statues in the state of Texas from being removed or moved off public property and banning all gender-affirming care for LGBTQ youth in the state.

Bryan Slaton blamed Democratic Committee Chairs for blocking said legislation and has spent the last year telling anyone who would listen that Democrat Chairs had to be banned. The far-right group Empower Texans/Texas Scorecard picked up Slaton’s cause, and in turn, the base began to echo the sentiments.

That was why Tony Tinderholt ran against Dade Phelan for House Speaker. It was for the sole purpose of banning Democratic Chairs. The only people who voted for Tinderholt were himself, Slaton, and Schatzline.

That’s how we got to the absurd marathons of amendments to the House rules debate yesterday. It was all an attempt to ban Democratic chairs.

Slaton and crew shot themselves in the foot with the nomination of Tinderholt for speaker.

Most of the amendments they brought up were struck down for various reasons, and the majority voted against others. Yet, they kept bringing them up again and again.

In total, Slaton and Tinderholt brought up fourteen amendments, each failing. The amendments they brought to the floor included:

The Loser Caucus puts on a clown show.

Have we already reached peak absurdity on day two?

The Loser Caucus is laser-focused on fighting the GOP’s imaginary culture war. These men are full of hatred and aim to hurt marginalized communities in Texas. While Democrats will do their best to stop that from happening, the rest of us don’t need to worry about it.

What we saw yesterday during the House Rules debate could have easily been titled, “How NOT to win friends and influence people.”

Bryan Slaton will again spend this legislative session on the outskirts of his peers. He will continue to be ridiculed and not get anything done. But he won’t be lonely. Tony Tinderholt and Nate Schatzline have decided to join him in his crusade and become ostracized by their peers as well. It’s all for the better since their priorities are too extreme for even many on the right.

And we’re still in our first week. Buckle up and stay tuned.

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