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Straus and Patrick meet as special session dwindles

Gov. Greg Abbott looks on as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (left) and House Speaker Joe Straus shake hands at the Capitol on May 27, 2017. (Photo by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

by Morgan Smith | The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus had their first meeting in months on Monday.

"The Speaker and I had a substantive meeting today where we discussed a lot of issues. We are still talking," Patrick said in an emailed statement.

The two Republican leaders — who have traded barbs over issues like the “bathroom bill” and school finance since the 30-day special legislative session began — have a history of frosty relations.

At a news conference days before lawmakers returned to Austin in July, the lieutenant governor said Straus had refused his requests for a one-on-one meeting since the regular session began in January.

“I’ve never had a one-on-one meeting with the speaker the entire session or since the session,” Patrick said. “If he’s serious — because I’m serious and the governor’s serious — then you have to sit down and discuss it and work it out.”

Shortly after, during a speech at a conservative think tank, Patrick promised to be the governor’s “wingman,” repeatedly casting Straus as the enemy of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities and saying he would not “sit back” while Straus derailed their conservative agenda.

More recently, Patrick struck a somewhat more conciliatory tone during an Aug. 1 interview with a conservative group, calling for "better communication" between his chamber and Straus'.

Straus has stopped short of committing to pass all of the governor’s special session priority items — and made known his staunch opposition to the “bathroom bill” — but said that he believes the House, Senate and governor will find common ground on some issues.

With a little more than a week left in the special session, no bills related to Abbott's 20 priority items have cleared both chambers.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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