Earlier this week, when the Freedom Caucus killed dozens of bills they considered too liberal, we reported to our readers how the House tried to blow up its own rules to bring those bills back to life.
At that time, the effort failed when the author of the motion, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, pulled her motion down. Thompson chairs the committee on Local and Consent Calendars, which decides part of the daily House agenda. The bills she sends to the floor are supposed to be local in nature, or non-controversial.
When the Freedom Caucus decided some of those bills were neither local nor non-controversial, they killed them, and she wasn’t happy.
Though she withdrew her motion in defeat on Tuesday, she raised a new one Thursday to hit back at the Freedom Caucus, and she landed her punch.
Thompson moved to “suspend the rules” and accelerate consideration of the next Local and Consent agenda from next week to Friday morning. This gave the members less than 24 hours to read the roughly 126 bills on the agenda.
Reps. Tony Tinderholt and Matt Rinaldi questioned Speaker Joe Straus as to the number of votes required to approve Thompson’s motion. The Speaker said 2/3 of the members present could approve her motion, but Rinaldi believed the rules required unanimous consent. See the rule in question:
“…the chair of the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars shall move to designate periods for the consideration of local, consent, and resolutions calendars. Each such motion shall require a two-thirds vote for its adoption. In each instance, the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars shall prepare and post on the electronic legislative information system a calendar at least 48 hours in advance of the hour set for consideration. Once a calendar is posted, no additional bills or resolutions will be added to it. This requirement can be suspended only by unanimous consent.”
Whoever is right, Straus overruled Rinaldi and the vote went ahead under the 2/3 precedent.
Tinderholt was given 3 minutes to speak in opposition to the motion, and Thompson was given 3 minutes to speak in favor.
Tinderholt argued passionately that because the House will adjourn around midnight, he and his staff would not have time to read the bills before they were considered the next morning.
He told the body that he and his staff read every single bill that gets laid out on the floor and decide on their position beforehand.
He urged the body to vote against the motion if they were concerned about reading bills before passing them.
Thompson made two points in arguing for suspending the rules. 1) That each of the bills on her L&C agenda had already been vetted by her committee and others, and implying that the body need not worry about vetting them further. 2) That the bills on the agenda had been in consideration by her committee for at least a day prior to her motion, and that members could have read the bills at any point in the last 24 hours.
Of course, she failed to mention that not every bill which came to her committee would get to the floor, and no member would be reasonably expected to read them until they had seen the official agenda.
Her argument, flimsy as it may have been, was frankly irrelevant. The body wanted revenge against the Freedom Caucus, and they voted overwhelmingly for her motion: 128-9.
Ironically, 3 members of the Freedom Caucus voted with Thompson. See record vote below.
Later in the afternoon, Thompson called her Local and Consent committee together behind closed doors and pulled every bill with a Freedom Caucus member’s name off the agenda.
Leadership was prepared to steamroll the 12-member Freedom Caucus.
But later, the Freedom Caucus hit back.
In an impromptu press conference outside the House chamber, the members of the caucus announced they had decided they would kill the entirety of the Local and Consent agenda Friday morning. Without sufficient time to the read the bills, and with Thompson personally targeting them, they felt they had no choice.
They also added that their bills had been killed all session simply because of their voting records. All of them voted for the Speaker, yet none of them got any bills passed. They believe they have been targeted for voting “No” on too many of leadership’s priorities.
Friday morning, the Speaker brought up the Local and Consent Calendar first, and activists watched to see what procedural maneuvers the leadership would allow to prevent the Freedom Caucus from killing the bills.
The Speaker read the names of the members opposed to the Local and Consent bills, and with a whimper, the entire agenda was withdrawn.
The Freedom Caucus had won, yet again.
Motion to Suspend Rules to Bring Up Local and Consent Agenda Early (PASSED)
Yeas – Allen; Alonzo; Alvarado; Anchia; Anderson, C.; Anderson, R.; Arévalo; Ashby; Bailes; Bell; Bernal; Blanco; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burkett; Burns; Burrows; Button; Canales; Capriglione; Clardy; Coleman; Cook; Cortez; Cosper; Cyrier; Dale; Darby; Davis, S.; Dean; Deshotel; Dutton; Elkins; Faircloth; Fallon; Farrar; Flynn; Frank; Frullo; Geren; Gervin-Hawkins; Giddings; Goldman; Gonzales; González; Gooden; Guerra; Guillen; Gutierrez; Hefner; Hernandez; Herrero; Hinojosa; Holland; Howard; Huberty; Hunter; Isaac; Israel; Johnson, E.; Johnson, J.; Kacal; Keough; King, P.; King, T.; Klick; Koop; Krause; Kuempel; Lambert; Landgraf; Larson; Laubenberg; Leach; Lozano; Lucio; Martinez; Metcalf; Meyer; Miller; Minjarez; Moody; Morrison; Muñoz; Murphy; Murr; Neave; Oliverson; Ortega; Paddie; Parker; Paul; Perez; Phelan; Phillips; Pickett; Price; Raney; Raymond; Reynolds; Roberts; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Rose; Sanford; Schubert; Sheffield; Shine; Simmons; Smithee; Springer; Stucky; Thierry; Thompson, E.; Thompson, S.; Turner; Uresti; VanDeaver; Villalba; Vo; Walle; White; Wilson; Workman; Wray; Wu; Zedler
Nays – Biedermann; Cain; Lang; Rinaldi; Schaefer; Shaheen; Stickland; Swanson; Tinderholt
Present, not voting – Mr. Speaker(C); Stephenson
Absent, Excused, Committee Meeting – Collier; Longoria; Zerwas
Absent – Craddick; Davis, Y.; Dukes; King, K.; Nevárez; Oliveira; Romero; Schofield
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