The Texas legislature is immobilized.— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) July 21, 2021
The governor is fuming.
And the next chapter in the gamesmanship that has engulfed Republican efforts to rewrite Texas voting laws may fall to the state's third branch of government: the judiciary. #TXlege https://t.co/GZUq6Xzo2B
The Texas Supreme Court has been asked to rule whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s unprecedented line-item veto of Article X in the state budget -- which pays for the Legislature and its staff -- is constitutional.
Abbott issued the veto after the regular legislative session ended, pulling one of the few political levers at his disposal to try to force Democratic lawmakers to show up for a special session if they want their staffs to keep getting paid when the next fiscal year starts Sept. 1.
It didn’t work. Enough House Democrats left the state to deprive the chamber of the quorum needed to conduct business.
Now the state’s all-Republican highest civil court -- with four of eight members appointed by Abbott and one seat vacant -- has been asked by the House Democrats who broke quorum to overturn the veto.
Legally, the case hinges on whether the Texas Constitution allows a governor to cut off funding for an equal branch of government. Politically, it’s unclear whether the court would be doing Abbott a bigger favor by upholding his veto power, or by extricating him from a stalemate that’s not going his way.
All the way back here -- before the special session began -- I suggested, referencing Quorum Report's plugged-in coverage, that this was likely the endgame. For those who can't be troubled to keep up.
(Seriously. If you're writing 'like I said, what else is there to say' on a regular basis, why are you even bothering? One post a week versus three posts a day and still two weeks behind. SMDH)
“This is well beyond the Schoolhouse Rock version of how government works,” (U of H political science professor Brandon) Rottinghaus said, referencing a children’s animated series that simplified political concepts into cartoons. “This is a political story as much as it is an institutional separation-of-powers story. So it’s going to really push the boundaries of what’s allowable in Texas, especially in its governor.”
It’s unclear when the Texas Supreme Court could rule on the issue -- or if it will at all. It could rule any day now, delay a decision or decide the court does not have jurisdiction over the case at all. The justices could also rule to disallow part of the veto — for example, legislators are allowed a per diem payment under the Constitution -- or find that the issue is not yet ripe and punt it down the road to decide at another time. Attorneys for House Democrats asked for the court to expedite its decision “well before” the new budget comes into effect.
“If I had to really put money on it, I would say that the court would back the governor’s veto, in part because they might view this as being a temporary political skirmish that can be resolved,” Rottinghaus said.
Anything short of striking down Abbott's veto is a wipeout for the Q-Breakers. That's actually less of a long shot than expecting Joe Biden to suddenly support killing the filibuster, though.
Talk about being left to twist in the wind ...
“[Biden] won’t meet with us on Zoom like this, and I’m trying to be tactful, but I don’t know how else to say it, man. I’m just pissed off at this point. He doesn’t give us the respect the way you have,” Raymond told Doggett. https://t.co/jvZac1Jt4W #txlege— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) July 23, 2021
As for Beto: he's already said he will wait for the final outcome of the voter suppression bill before he decides to run for something (Donks pray every day it's governor). I've already said -- and this requires no crystal ball -- that the bill will eventually pass, Beto won't run, and Texas Democrats will be drowned in a red tide in 2022 unless they can break through in the AG race with Joe Jaworski (or, I suppose, Lee Merritt).
Maybe the best hope for the Blues is another statewide power outage. This week?
I think I can get around to more blogging as long as I don't lose electricity. For now, let's chill.
Houston Restaurant Weeks returns starting this week. https://t.co/4MjgSHlEo4— Houston Press (@HoustonPress) July 26, 2021