There is no fourth special session proclamation just yet, but House Speaker Dade Phelan announced they are coming in at 5pm today.
Since the third special legislative session ended without a deal on Gov. Abbott’s priority “school choice,” and several border security bills, a fourth special session was evidently looming and will focused on voucher-like legislation.
On Sunday, the Texas Senate briefly met but didn’t pass a priority border security bill. With just three senators present, the Senate quickly recessed until Tuesday, the final day of the special session, as first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
This move drew sharp criticism from House Speaker Dade Phelan, who has been at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s throat since the regular session.
“We did our part, and when the fourth called special session convenes, we will do so again,” Phelan said in the statement.
The highly anticipated debate on House Bill 4, aimed at allowing law enforcement to detain migrants lacking legal documentation, never materialized. The chamber conferred briefly, in contrast to the House who debated the proposal for hours.
Notably, the cancellation of the session was attributed to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s health condition, diagnosed with viral pneumonia, prompting him to work remotely.
On Tuesday, the House adjourned sine die just after 10 a.m., preventing the passage of any legislation that still remains in the Senate. The upper chamber followed at 4 p.m. The Legislature passed just two of the five items on the governor’s initial agenda.
The third special session was filled with constant bickering from Patrick and Phelan. Just last week things were heated because Patrick blamed Phelan for “the imminent demise of an education savings accounts bill.”
Then he slammed Phelan for referring to the House’s border bill as “the toughest border bill ever,” when in reality it is what Patrick called a “Texas-sized catch-and-release.”
In response, Phelan accused Patrick of deflecting from the Senate’s inadequate response to the escalating border crisis, emphasizing the need for effective strategies, not what he termed as “ineffective” approaches.
Abbott, currently in Israel, has yet to comment on the legislative discord, and has not officially called the fourth special session.
According to The Texas Tribune, never in the Legislature’s 176-year history have lawmakers met for more than three special sessions in a year with a regular session.
As anticipation builds for the next special session, Texas House Education Committee Chairman, Representative Brad Buckley jumped the gun and unveiled an updated version of the House’s omnibus education bill.
In a statement Rep. Buckley said that Gov. Greg Abbott’s expanded call -including school funding into the agenda – gave the House the tools it needed to debate the new version of House Bill 1.
“In the likely event that Governor Abbott calls us back into session next week, my intent was to file the bill at the earliest opportunity,” Buckley said.
Legislation enabling public funds for private school tuition (school choice) continue to face staunch opposition, especially from House Democrats and rural Republicans who have been historically opposed to vouchers.
However Abbott has said that if the Legislation doesn’t pass during the session he will take matters to voters, threatening to get involved in the primaries of those who oppose him.