Tag Archives: Speaker of the House

Quote for the Day

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“We’re here to let you know that the Texas speaker’s race is over. The House is ready to go.”

Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton)

Bonnen appears primed to become the next Texas Speaker of the House.  Bonnen was something of a dark horse having repeatedly denied that he was interested in the job.  But support rather quickly coalesced around the feisty conservative and he claimed he had over 100 votes for Speaker – well above the 76 needed.  Bonnen has been a member of the house since 1997 and is a predictable “red meat” conservative vote on restricting abortion rights, promoting guns in the public arena, imposing onerous requirements on welfare recipients, and reducing public school funding.  He was also one of outgoing Speaker Joe Strauss’ lieutenants serving as Speaker Pro Tempore. Bonnen, however, does look to be something of a thorn in the side of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as he has clashed with the bombastic blowhard before.   The House will look different as Democrats picked up 12 seats and now may able to form coalitions with the few remaining moderate Republicans to advance some issues or block some of the more rabidly right-wing measures Bonnen has supported in the past.  Maybe Bonnen is smart enough to realize that there is a new game in Austin.  Or maybe not.

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Today in Texas History – April 7

From the Annals of the Halls of Congress –  In 1913, Sam Rayburn of Windom took the oath of office as a member of the United States House of Representatives.  Mr. Sam, as he was known, was to serve in Congress from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson until that of John F. Kennedy.  Rayburn  rose to majority leader in 1937 and was elected Speaker of the House in 1940.  He remained Speaker until his death in 1961.  Rayburn was a master politician who helped negotiate the Roosevelt-Garner ticket in 1932 backing his friend John Nance Garner for Vice-President.  He worked tirelessly to pass New Deal legislation and as chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee in the 1930s he oversaw legislation that established the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.   He worked closely with Senate majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1950s and Texas benefitted greatly from have the two pillars of power working in D.C.  Rayburn was married only briefly and said that his greatest regret was not have a tow-haired son to take fishing.  The Sam Rayburn Reservoir and several schools in East Texas are name after Mr. Sam.  He was the longest serving Speaker in U.S. history.

A Texan Should be Speaker

Considering the outsize influence Texas has in the current GOP domination of Congress, it only makes sense that a Texan should be Speaker of the House.  And at least three Texas Representatives seem willing to step forward if Paul Ryan (now allegedly too liberal – if you can believe that – to be Speaker) decides to decline to run.  The Texas Tribune indicates that Bill Flores (TP-Bryan), Michael McCaul (R-Gerrymanderland), and Mike Conaway (TP-Midland) are all interested in the job.  All would be midgets following in the Texas-sized footsteps of Congressional giants and former Texas Speakers Sam Rayburn, John Nance Garner and Jim Wright, but at least they would be Texas midgets.

 U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said Monday he intends to seek the gavel of the United States House of Representatives if his colleague, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, doesn’t.

Though GOP lawmakers have been urging Ryan to run as a consensus candidate, Flores said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that he spoke to Ryan on Sunday.

“I don’t want to share private conversations, but he was still a ‘no’ as of yesterday when I spoke to him,” Flores said. 

If Flores is to succeed, he will need the 25-member Texas House delegation behind him. That’s no certainty yet, given  possible home state competition. U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, has said he will consider running for speaker if Ryan opts against a run. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul is also mulling a run, a source close to him confirmed. 

Where we are now is, what we’ve agreed is that we’re going to hold our powder dry,” Flores said of his fellow Texans. “And then we’ll see which Texan gets the most traction, and the thinking is today that we’ll coalesce around one Texan eventually.” 

The race is complicated by the Gang of Forty ultra-right wingers who are making outsized demands as a condition of support for any candidate for Speaker.  So right now we have about 10% of the Congress who represent the most far-right lunatic fringe of what used to be a mainstream political party controlling who will hold the third most powerful position in American government.  If Ryan bails, Flores might just be the man.  First, he apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of a private conversation which positions him well to betray anyone who strays from the Tea Party line.  And second, he is apparently willing to kowtow to the Gang of Forty demands of ideological purity at the expense of actually governing.