"With Midnight Deadline Looming, Democrats Drag Their Feet" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Facing a midnight deadline in the House to take initial votes on that chamber's bills, Democrats dragged their feet, using nonstop banter, parliamentary maneuvers and other tactics to delay a vote on a bill forbidding the use of state or local funds to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
The practice is called “chubbing,” prolonging debate over legislation to run out the clock. It’s one of the tools lawmakers — particularly those in the minority party — use late in a session to block bills they oppose but don’t have the votes to defeat.
"If that bill never comes up today, that's a good thing," state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, said.
On Thursday, such delay tactics were out in full effect, as Democrats worked to burn the clock.
A measure by state Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, calling for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ensure fiscal responsibility by the U.S. government, got hit with 10 amendments — all by Democrats, all unsuccessful.
Why don't House lawmakers filibuster? That's only allowed in the Texas Senate. House members, meanwhile, can hog the microphone for up to 10 minutes — or longer if their colleagues approve an extension of their time. The longer a member speaks, the less time remaining for the GOP-controlled House to pass bills.
Throughout the week, with the House working late into the night trying to cram legislation through before the Thursday deadline, members took to Twitter to call out flagrant examples of chubbing — or, in some cases, to brag about their own prowess.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak On, For and Against the bill. #txlege #chub #billbutcher,” state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, tweeted on Tuesday.
State Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, explained the tradition on his Twitter account: “Chub: verb, to kill a bill or slow debate by talking.” He posted a picture of Canales allegedly chubbing state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
Canales spoke at length Thursday against a measure by state Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas — only to support the bill when it came up for a vote. Members voted unanimously for Sheets' measure to block lawmakers who abuse office from receiving their pensions.
Stall tactics by the minority party at the end of a session aren’t unusual.
In a Democrat-controlled House in 1997, then-state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, a Republican, dropped a procedural bomb near the end of the session, striking 52 bills from the House schedule because of a technicality — an episode known around the Capitol as the Memorial Day Massacre.
State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, the author of the gay marriage bill, said he's praying his bill will get a vote, and said opponents of it don’t understand that it’s about state sovereignty.