On Wednesday, the Texas GOP announced its eight legislative priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session.
Texas Republicans began the session two months after resounding November electoral victories which solidified their majority in the state House. Chairman Allen West detailed plans to make an aggressive push for the party’s eight legislative priorities: election integrity, religious freedom, constitutional carry, abolition of abortion and gender reassignment, monument protection, tax payer funded lobbying, school choice, and executive overreach.
The priorities enjoy mixed GOP support. For some Republicans, election results emboldened a renewed appetite for a strong conservative agenda. Other members of the Texas GOP, including Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, seem keen to focus on the pressing need to address the budget, redistricting attempts and responses to the pandemic.
The new Texas House elected state Rep. Dade Phelan faces tough legislative challenges against the backdrop of the ongoing public health crisis. The bipartisan support he received in his election was accompanied by criticism from his own party for failing to disclose how strongly he would push a strong conservative agenda. Allen West further denounced Phelan as a “political traitor” for seeking out Democrat support in his bid for speaker.
Phelan acknowledged the significant challenges in his Tuesday address and called for unity in the face of adversity. “We must all do our part — not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Texans and Americans,” he said. “Let us unite in one common purpose to do what is right for the people of Texas.”
Phalen’s unifying rhetoric contrasts West’s rallying cries last Saturday for an “ideological battlefield.”
Abbott’s support for Phelan may be indicative of broader political alliances emerging in the GOP ahead of the 2022 primary season. Abbott is up for reelection and West is ruminated to be a potential challenger to the governor.