State Representative Gary VanDeaver
Released by State Representative Van Deaver
(Austin) State Representative Gary VanDeaver, New Boston, issued the following statement today concerning the continued walkout by over 50 Texas House of Representatives members. VanDeaver said:
The legislature has been in special session since July 8, and for two weeks, over a third of my House colleagues have been AWOL, absent without leave, and broke quorum. Their action has stalled all work in the Texas House.
“These absent members ignored the very constitutional duties and obligations they swore to uphold when they raised their right hands and asked God to help them “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and this state. That was when the legislature first convened this year on January 12.”
This dereliction of duty has gone on long enough, and it is time for it to stop. Essential issues are waiting to be addressed: from the needs of foster children; to a 13-month check for retired school employees, relief from over burdensome property taxes, and strengthening our electoral processes and voting integrity. It is time for these House members to return to the Capitol to all get to work representing the very people who elected us to serve them.
When campaigning to be a state representative, you make promises to your constituents, friends, neighbors, community members, and future colleagues for the state’s good. These promises and commitments should mean something. Your oath should mean something. I am very frustrated that these absent House members prevent me from fulfilling my oath and commitment to my constituents who chose me to represent them.
Many people have asked for the House Speaker to remove these renegade members from their House committees. But, unfortunately, the authority of the House Speaker to strip members of their committee assignments has not been in House Rules since 1993. We change rules, but without a quorum to conduct business, the House currently cannot change the practices to discipline errant members or give the Speaker that authority.
We were elected to participate in discussions with our colleagues. To engage in debates on the House floor and vote from our hearts in the House Chamber. No amount of outside political rhetoric will change that fact, and I encourage everyone to cut through the noise this situation has created and look at the facts of the matter. As frustrated as I am because my missing House colleagues have shut down the work at the Capitol, they are using a legitimate parliamentary tool currently available to them.
I expect there to be a lot of discussion about this before the next regular session in January 2023, when new House Rules will be adopted. I will participate in that debate to add new rules to prevent another breakdown in the House of Representatives’ ability to conduct state business on behalf of our constituents and all Texans to the best of our abilities.
Texans deserve nothing less from their elected officials.