May 25, 2007
Is this finally it?

Well, something is going on in the House. It all started about an hour ago.

A short while ago, Rep. Jim Dunnam made a simple parliamentary inquiry. Would the speaker recognize someone for a privileged motion to vacate the chair? Speaker Craddick said no. Would that ruling be open to a vote to appeal it? Craddick said no.

Then all hell broke loose.

The House now stands at recess until 11 p.m. The parliamentarian Denise Davis has allegedly threatened to quit. The mood is very ugly here. And Tom Craddick may be witnessing his final hours as speaker of the Texas House.

The AP has a report.

After an evening of simmering discord, House members exploded with shouts of rage when Craddick announced that the chamber would stand in recess until 11 p.m. Friday.

He'd earlier called another recess to escape pointed questions about his handling of parliamentary issues. When he emerged from his office 40 minutes later, he ignored further interrogating from a man who has filed his candidacy to replace Craddick and quickly called for the two-hour break to a chorus of boos.

Angry House members stormed Craddick's podium as he hustled back to his office suite, refusing to answer questions from reporters.

Democrats trying to overtake the speakers podium were physically restrained by House sergeants-at-arms as they tried to grab the microphone.


To oust Craddick before his term is up, a lawmaker must make a parliamentary maneuver known as a motion to vacate and a majority of the House must vote in favor of it.

It's called a privileged motion, and Craddick must recognize a lawmaker before they're allowed to speak to the House to make such a motion.

The meltdown Friday started when Democratic Rep. Jim Dunnam questioned Craddick about the parliamentary procedure. Craddick made it clear that he would not necessarily recognize someone to make that request and he was adamant that his ruling could not be appealed.

A short time later, Republican Rep. Todd Smith of Bedford asked Craddick if he ignored the advice of parliamentarian Denise Davis when he made the ruling.

"I looked over and asked her and I don't know if she agreed or didn't agree," Craddick responded.

"Did you or did you not ignore the advice of Denise Davis?" Smith asked.

"It's a privileged conversation between the two of us," Craddick said.

The "further interrogation" was by Jim Pitts, and one of the Democrats trying to get to the dais was Rick Noriega. BOR reports that parliamentarian Davis has resigned, and that Craddick supporters are attempting to break quorum. The assistant parliamentarian may also resign.

Crazy, just crazy. Brandi Grissom, Quorum Report, and Capitol Letters are also following this, which is sure to go well into the night.

One thing to keep in mind: While the joint conferees have approved the budget, it will likely be Sunday before any members get it. With sine die on Tuesday Monday and a lot more business still to be conducted, the budget could wind up getting filibustered, which would force a special session. Who might do such a thing? Here's one possibility. Keep an eye open for this.

Oh, and we have one more candidate for Speaker. Hey, by now, the more, the merrier. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Too much going on. Here's more coverage from the DMN and the Chron. And lookie at the new parliamentarians. Nice to know the Speaker believes in recycling. For the insomniacs out there, check with BOR, QR, PinkDome, and In the Pink. Good night.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 25, 2007 to That's our Lege

The budget was facing long odds of passing in the House before this all started...

Posted by: Penguin on May 25, 2007 10:30 PM

Sine Die is on Monday.

Posted by: muse on May 25, 2007 11:36 PM