POSTED: Friday, May 6, 2011 - 5:08pm
UPDATED: Sunday, June 5, 2011 - 10:14am
AUSTIN — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst warned Friday that Senate Republicans could scrap traditional rules again to push bills key bills past the minority Democrats in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Partisan tensions peaked Wednesday when the Senate bypassed the tradition of needing 21 votes in order to pass the Senate's budget proposal. The bill split 19-12 along party lines with every Senate Democrat voting against it.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Dewhurst said he had been plotting since last October to use an obscure rule that allows the Senate to pass House bills on Wednesdays without the two-thirds support of the chamber if he needed to. The Senate budget plan had been amended onto a House bill.
Dewhurst said that based on budget estimates last fall, he knew Democrats would not go along and he had to start thinking about how to get around them if they refused to compromise.
"I would not be a very smart or good lieutenant governor if I had not anticipated a long time ago there was a possibility the Democrats would lock down," Dewhurst said.
"I'm sure it was just a coincidence that it came up," on Wednesday, Dewhurst said with a hint of sarcasm. "When one side shuts down and it's a must-pass bill, then I think I have an obligation to move the people's business forward. "
The biennial state budget is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass. Dewhurst didn't say which other bills might qualify as "must pass" before the session ends May 30.