For a few brief moments, it looked like we were heading to double overtime, as Republicans voted down their own budget in the House.
The Texas House, in a surprise turn of events late Tuesday afternoon, tentatively voted down a must-pass bill that distributes the pain of school-funding cuts and uses accounting tricks to help balance the two-year state budget.
The 79-64 vote against the bill saw 32 House Republicans, including a few key members of Speaker Joe Straus’ leadership team, defect. They cast a “nay” vote that, unless reconsidered and reversed, could force the Legislature into another special session. The Senate adjourned for good earlier in the afternoon.
House Republicans immediately went into a caucus to try to sort out the mess.
Among the “nays” were State Affairs Committee chief Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who complained bitterly in a floor speech that the bill cravenly caved to Gov. Rick Perry’s desire to protect the Department of Information Resources and also placed on financially strapped rural counties an unfunded mandate that they audit court fee collections.
With the Senate having wrapped things up earlier in the day, if this result had stood it would have meant Special Session 2: Electric Boogaloo, which no one could have blamed on Wendy Davis. However, Republicans came to their senses and averted disaster.
After the drama of a surprise no-vote on a must-pass budget bill, House Republicans reconsidered their vote and sent the budget bill to the Governor’s desk for his approval.
The House voted to reconsider their previous vote, 96-44. The bill was passed by a vote of 80-57.
Rep. Phil King said that concerns raised by the Eagle Forum, a conservative Christian lobby group, had given many Republicans second thoughts about SB1. The Eagle Forum’s concerns related to provisions that affect charter schools.
King, who has influence with some of the Tea Party freshmen, also said that he had some concerns about an unfunded mandate being levied against rural counties. He said that those concerns had been answered.
So with the windstorm insurance bill having passed earlier, the session can finally, mercifully come to a close. The House will meet tomorrow to consider the silly “don’t touch my junk” bill, which has apparently been watered down to a resolution that amounts to an official finger-wag at the feds – I’ll be honest, I tend to lose consciousness whenever the subject of this thing comes up, so I’m not totally up to date on it – but the sanctuary cities bill is officially dead. So as of noon tomorrow, it’ll be good-bye and good riddance, and not a moment too soon.