- Jonathan Tilove American-Statesman Staff
Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame for the failure of the Legislature to pass half of his 20-item special session agenda on the House and its Republican speaker, Joe Straus, laying the groundwork for a challenge to Straus in the next session.
In an interview with KTRH radio in Houston Wednesday morning, Abbott said he was gratified by the progress made in the special session, which ended a day earlier than expected Tuesday, but unhappy with the failure of the House to even vote on nine of his agenda items.
“I’m disappointed that all 20 items did not receive the up or down vote that I wanted,” the governor said.
While the Senate worked quickly to pass 18 of his priorities at session’s start, Abbott said the House was “dilly-dallying” on unrelated matters, and laid the blame at the doorstep of the speaker, who he said had made plain during the regular session that he would block any transgender bathroom legislation in a regular or special session and delivered on that promise.
“He was not tricky. He was open and overt that he would not let it on the House floor,” Abbott said.
The governor said he was especially disappointed that the session ended without agreeing on his top priority of property tax reform. He said he could call another special session at any time, but it would not make sense to do so with the same cast of characters, suggesting, “that’s why elections matter.”
That seemed to be an invitation to members of the House Freedom Caucus to seek to replace Straus in the next session. In that he is on the same page at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who blistered Straus at a sine die press conference Tuesday night.
The House Republican Caucus met Wednesday morning to talk about the rules for electing a speaker.
Abbott also said that Republican members of the House ought to be held accountable for their votes, or the House’s failure to vote.