Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced his decision to strip Rep. Joe Moody of his top leadership position of Speaker Pro Tem as punishment for joining his Democratic colleagues as they fled Texas on Monday.
Formerly one of Phelan’s closest Democratic allies, Moody has served as Speaker Pro Tem for two sessions. His removal took immediate effect on Thursday morning before the House was set to return. The Democrat from El Paso has since responded to Phelan’s decision.
“The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan,” Moody said in a statement. “Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are.”
Fellow Democrats have spoken out in defense of their colleague. Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Chris Turner joined caucus leaders Rafael Anchía, Garnet Coleman and Nicole Collier in a joint statement in which they blasted the House Speaker’s decision and warned that they may not lend their support in future speaker races.
“We know first hand that Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody has done more than any other member on the House Floor to protect our Chamber and the institution of the Texas House. It’s unfortunate that Speaker Phelan has been unable to do the same,” the statement reads. “We are a coequal branch of government. When Governor Abbott decided to defund the whole legislature, Speaker Phelan was silent. There needs to be 76 members who decide who our next Speaker is, and more than 60 are not there.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate and congressman Beto O’Rourke also spoke out in support of Moody.
“This is what public service looks like. To fight for voting rights, Joe left his young family, his home, his state and is now being stripped of his office as Speaker pro tem,” O’Rourke tweeted. “He’s put it all on the line for all of us. Thank you, Joe.”