Last night’s session at the Texas House of Representatives underscored a worrisome trait that is unfortunately becoming more and more common in our democratic process: the utter incapacity of our elected officials to compromise.
In a stunning move, state representatives from the Texas Freedom Caucus announced their intent to kill more than 100 bills in retribution for what they called “petty personal politics.” These bills, which represent thousands of hours of work by hundreds of lawmakers and staff members over the last five months of the legislative session, were undone in a few hours by members too bitter about the failure of their own pet interests.
“It’s an astonishing refusal to govern,” said Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “A few lawmakers are willing to grind state government to a halt because of petty infighting and a failure to work together.”
Legislative paralysis in Texas leaves voters wondering if those they have elected have their best interests at heart. Among the bills that died this week were legislation to address rising mortality among pregnant mothers, air and water protections and legislation to promote transparency and open government.
“Last night’s meltdown at the House was the worst case of political immaturity I have seen in my 35 years of working at the Capitol,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, former director of the Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Chubbing by members on the last night of the session is a time honored tradition, but the self-absorbed fits of a dozen freedom caucus members is a blatant example of their utter disrespect for the needs of their fellow legislators and citizens. They should be ashamed of their actions.”
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., with an office in Austin, Texas.