On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott quietly vetoed a section of Senate Bill 1, the general appropriations bill funding the Texas government for the next two years.
The victim of the partial veto was Article X, the legislature — something never before seen in Texas history.
In a recent statement, House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner called Abbott’s actions an “inexcusable and dangerous attack on the separation of powers,” arguing that the line-item veto consolidated more power to the governor’s office.
“Abbott has increasingly relied on an abuse of power as a governing strategy through the COVID-19 pandemic and has doubled down on this approach recently,” Turner continued. “Just in the last week, he has announced plans to unilaterally seize $250 million from criminal justice funds to build a Trump border wall; now, he tries to cancel the entire Legislature.”
Turner said the caucus was exploring options, including immediate legal options to fight back against the defunding of the legislature.
Abbott has framed the partial veto attacking the legislature as a matter of unfinished business.
“Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for the additional legislative session,” Abbott said in the veto. “I therefore object and disapprove of these appropriations.”
In an MSNBC appearance, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rafael Anchía said the lawsuit was forthcoming and promised that both Republicans and Democrats would get Abbott his “comeuppance” for defunding the legislative branch.
Chair of the Texas House Women’s Health Caucus Donna Howard Chair of the Texas House Women’s Health Caucus Donna Howard called Abbott’s move a “political stunt” that threatens more than 2,000 livelihoods in Texas government, including staffers, custodians, and librarians.
“Ultimately, Abbott’s shenanigans will not threaten me personally as a legislator, but will threaten our democratic form of government based on three equal branches of government — and that will only bring harm to our entire state,” Howard said in a news release.
The move comes less than a week after Abbott made an expensive power grab, declaring a state disaster at the border and using that excuse to fund his border wall ahead of the 2022 elections.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com