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Abbott expands special session call; House lacks quorum to do business

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 10/31/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

Special Session No. 3 roared back to life Tuesday as the House lacked a quorum to do business for a second day in a row, prompting a flurry of accusations from both parties about who was responsible for the halt in House business.  

House members gathered on the floor Tuesday only to find they lacked the numbers needed to do business for the second day in a row. Stymied by this, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) adjourned the House until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Shortly after, a handful of House Republicans gathered for an impromptu press conference in which they accused House Democrats of intentionally breaking quorum and announced that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had expanded the special session call to include teacher pay, school funding, and accountability reform, in addition to amended voucher requirements.   

Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado) announced the expanded call while expressing frustration that the House couldn’t even receive the call due to the lack of a quorum. A committee substitute for his voucher bill, HB 1, that matches the provisions on the governor’s expanded call is ready to be introduced, but the bill cannot be referred to committee due to the lack of a quorum. It is not clear at this point exactly how the committee substitute differs from the originally filed bill.  

ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes released the following statement in response to the governor’s expanded call: “We are disappointed that House leadership will bow to political pressure and compromise the Texas public schools that are the very backbone of Texas communities. We very much need to address issues such as teacher pay and school safety, and they should not be held hostage by this needless attempt to create a government entitlement program.” 

Democrats responded to the House Republicans’ accusations with a statement of their own, claiming that the Republicans were missing several members from their own caucus as well and thus couldn’t blame the Democrats for the lack of quorum. According to a tweet from Rep. Erin Zwiener (D–Dripping Springs), the Democrats did not intentionally break quorum, and no one had planned to be on the House floor today.  Additionally, the House Democratic Caucus sent an email to its members Tuesday afternoon, reiterating that there had been no quorum break, and that they intend to be on the House floor tomorrow. 

House members will gavel in Wednesday at 6 p.m. to attempt to reach a quorum again. If they can’t reach one, the governor’s expanded special session call will be unable to be read, meaning that the committee substitute for HB 1 will be unable to be referred to committee. 

Special Session No. 3 ends Wednesday, Nov. 8. The governor is expected to call at least one more special session, though the timing of that special is yet to be determined. 



Jayne Serna

What an amazing and disingenuous turn of events, spawned by our governor. Disappointing.

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