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El Paso Democrat stripped of speaker pro tem title after fleeing to Washington, D.C.

The order was reportedly signed by Speaker of the House Dade Phelan early Thursday morning.

AUSTIN, Texas — Pursuant to his authority as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) on Thursday released an order relieving Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) from his position as speaker pro tempore for the 87th Legislature.

According to The Texas Tribune, Moody was among the Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., to stall progress on "voter integrity" legislation making way through the special session. It also marks the first time a Democrat has faced major political backlash after the break in quorum.

According to the Tribune, Moody has served as speaker pro tem for two sessions and under two different speakers. He is also said to be one of Phelan's primary allies in the Democratic Party, as the pair have worked together in the past to push bills aimed at making improvements to the Texas criminal justice system.

A speaker pro tem's role in the House is to perform the duties of the speaker in their absence.

State Rep. Rafael Anchía, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, State Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, State Rep. Nicole Collier, chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, and State Rep. Garnet Coleman, chairman of the Legislative Study Group, released the following joint statement: 

“We know firsthand 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.

“We are a coequal branch of government. When Gov. 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.”

For a list of representatives and senators who left for Washington, click here.

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