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00000175-b316-d35a-a3f7-bbdeff690001Agenda Texas is KUT's weekly report on the Texas Legislative session. Each week we'll take a deeper look into the policies being considered and explain what they could mean for you and your life. From transportation to education to the environment and everything in between.It's KUT's political podcast that lets you know what's happening under the dome and explains how it hits home.

Agenda Texas: Tea Party Power

A state-wide smoking ban has once again died in the legislature.
photo by KUT News
A state-wide smoking ban has once again died in the legislature.

It’s been a tumultuous week in the Texas Capitol. A House bill that would have spent $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund on water infrastructure projects was sunk Monday night on a procedural point of order.

Yes, that point of order was brought by a Democrat, but Tea Party Republicans have been trying to block spending from the rainy day fund throughout the session.

That was just one of several battles Tea Partiers expected to win during a session where the more conservative branch of the GOP was expected to dominate. But the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith said it hasn’t turned out that way.

“It’s been a big surprise to, I think, a lot of us who anticipated a more contentious session. Or one in which at least, we expected the more moderate Republican agenda not to prevail," Smith said.

Smith said some Republicans, lead by Speaker Joe Straus, have added money to public education and fended off Tea Party priorities while debating the state budget.

Smith said that wing of the GOP still has plenty of power in the state, especially when it comes to threatening more moderate Republicans with opponents in the GOP primary.

"And then at the national level, particularly in Congress, I think you see a lot of Tea Party elected officials who are causing the President not to get any of his agenda through."

That includes the President's efforts on gun control, immigration or the federal budget. 

And at the top of that Congressional Tea Party pyramid, Smith said, is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

"Who, for all we know, is the next President of the United States."

Tea Party, Democrat, conservative, liberal...or something in between? We take all kinds at Agenda Texas. Drop us a line and let us know what you’d like to see us cover.

Our e-mail is And we’re on Twitter @AgendaTexas

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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