AUSTIN, Texas - The third Special Session of the 88th Texas Legislature started Monday, Oct. 9 with a lot of political drama already underway.
Lawmakers in both chambers briefly set aside their differences with a show of unity for Israel.
"This really is their 911 moment. And you think about proportionally how bad this hit is. It's just absolutely ungodly what's occurred," said Flower Mound Republican Tan Parker.
The resolutions came after concerns were raised that antisemitic views may be inserted into the coming political debate. Over the weekend, the Texas Tribune reported leaders of a group called Defend Texas Liberty PAC met with white supremacist Nick Fuentes in Fort Worth.
House Speaker Dade Phelan in a social media post condemned the meeting. He also challenged any lawmaker who got a donation from the PAC, including Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, to give it back or donate it.
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The PAC issued a brief statement on social media Monday afternoon rejecting the connection to Fuentes, but not the meeting. The call-out angered the Lt. Governor, who demanded the resignation of Speaker Phelan.
In a statement Patrick said the Speaker "has now absolutely hit rock bottom. His latest political stunt is disgusting, despicable, and disingenuous."
Phelan shrugged off Patrick’s response.
"I'm here to discuss real policy, not fantasyland. Calling people to resign. I didn't take $3 million from a PAC associate himself with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. That's not my problem. That's someone else's problem. And so, my House members who support me, we don't take money from this PAC. We don't associate ourselves with sexual deviants and misfits and folks who associate themselves with Holocaust deniers," said Speaker Phelan.
The clash between the two republican leaders comes as house democrats stand unified against item one in the special session, school vouchers. Governor Greg Abbott continued to promote the idea on his social media accounts, while democrats called it a sham.
"There is no accountability, no transparency, no democracy. I say all this because they can put as much lipstick on this pig as they want, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig," said Round Rock Democrat James Talarico.
The Democrats promised not to compromise. With a bitter fight looming, Caucus Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer was asked by FOX 7 if he is concerned members of a pro-voucher group were allegedly meeting with an alleged Nazi sympathizer.
"Shame on anyone who would spend the holy day convening and consorting with individuals that share and harbor those views. They have no place in Fort Worth, and they have no place in Texas," said Martinez Fischer.
The House recessed until Thursday, Oct. 12.
Late Monday, Oct. 9, the Senate filed SB 2. It’s a 2 year $5 billion funding Bill package that includes a new teacher retention bonus program. $3,000 for those in large districts, and $10,000 for those in smaller districts with 5,000 or fewer students.
The Sponsor of SB 2, Sen. Brandon Creighton, said the higher amount is an attempt to help smaller districts which have a much lower base pay. Plus, there is money to help districts hire additional school police officers on all campuses.
Tuesday, Oct. 10, Senate hearings will be held on school choice legislation, as well as a ban on COVID vaccine mandates, and border security.