Pandemonium! Mayhem! Crying Speakers!
Conservatives finally have enough of tax increases and abusive Leadership.
Pissed-off Democrats finally discover their “special purpose” and join Conservatives to wreak havoc on the House floor.
For a moment there, we thought Charles Sargent was finally going to experience that long-expected coronary. Huffing and puffing from the podium, Sargent practically screamed “There was no deal! There was no deal!”
He was lying.
So what “deal” was Chas referring to? Turns out the Dems had indeed cut a deal to pass the Haslam/Pilot Oil Gas Tax Increase after 1/2 of the House GOP caucus had come out in opposition to it. Without the Dems, Haslam and House leadership still didn’t have enough votes to jam it through. That’s when Haslam opened up the taxpayers’ checkbook and offered a deal on education spending to the Democrats in order to get the votes to win. Fitzhugh and the Dems kept their word and delivered on their part of the bargain by delivering 23 votes for the Gas Tax.
But then Haslam and leadership made a fateful mistake.
They screwed the Democrats. They bent them over the barrel. Nailed them to the wall. Stabbed them in the back.
Just a day before the budget vote, but after he had delivered the required votes to pass the Gas Tax, Dem Leader Craig Fitzhugh was told “Oops, sorry. You have no deal.” Casada, McCormick, Harwell, Haslam, Sargent, Ryan Williams, et al pretended to deny the very deal that everyone within driving distance of the LP knew had been made.
Combine the Dems anger with the building, boiling frustrations of House conservatives — who make up a near or actual majority of the House GOP caucus — and you get ignition. The seething resentment toward leadership’s treatment of conservative members of their own party has been building for years. And today it boiled over.
Over Majority Leader Glen Casada’s protests, the two factions teamed up on the House floor and began offering and passing every amendment they could come up with, effectively shutting down the process. And the amendments were creative. If someone had an amendment to fund a million-dollar wildlife habitat recovery center for former Hooters waitresses, they probably would have passed it.
That’s when Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams started whining that some of his GOP colleagues were making a mockery of “the process” that leadership had cooked up to jam through the tax increase.
RTP wonders, Ryan, just which “process” were you referring to? Were you talking about “the process” that kills perfectly good bills in House Finance Sub before they are given a vote on the floor of the House? Are you talking about “the process” that invents magical last-second phoney fiscal votes meant to kill legislation the leadership doesn’t like, but would likely have overwhelming support of the voters? Or maybe you are talking about “the process” that allowed Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss to flagrantly violate multiple House rules to bully the Gas Tax through his committees.
F**k your “process,” Ryan.
The long-term damage has been done, and Haslam and the House Leadership have only themselves to blame.
“Speaker” Casada? After today that seems very unlikely. “Governor” Harwell? Even less so.
At the end of the day, today’s show may not matter in terms of the Governor getting his budget. He still has the ability to buy off enough legislators with taxpayers’ money to scrape together enough votes. Late word is that Harwell led a group over to the Senate after the House chaos, hoping they could somehow bail her out. The Senators essentially told Harwell to “pound sand” and “your broke it, you bought it.” The Senators indicated they didn’t believe the Democrat/Conservative Republican coalition would hold when the House reconvenes tomorrow morning.
But after Haslam and the leadership’s lying to and screwing of the Democrats and after years of abuse of conservatives, the crew here at RTP is hoping and praying that right after the opening invocation tomorrow morning the two groups collectively stand up and say:
“Hey, y’all — watch this! Hold my beer.”