School voucher legislation likely to fail again in Texas House

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AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Abbott's hope of getting school voucher legislation passed is likely to fail once again.

The third special session in Austin ends Tuesday and the House and Senate are still at odds.

Gov. Abbott has said he is not backing down on providing so-called "education freedom" for parents, but rural house Republicans and Democrats seem dug in on blocking vouchers.

READ MORE: Texas House members do not act on school voucher bill, fourth special session may be needed

"I think the governor either is engaged in a great deal of wishful thinking or is simply blowing smoke," said Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist.

Gov. Greg Abbott has used his power to call multiple special sessions to pass his priority item: school vouchers.

"While [Gov. Abbott] did get his ban on COVID vaccine mandates, as well as increased penalties for stash houses for illegal immigration, he didn't get other immigration legislation, and he didn't get the thing that he really wanted, which was school choice legislation," said Jones.

On top of the stalemate over vouchers, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who runs the Senate, have been trading jabs in social media statements.

READ MORE: Texas school choice bill: Democrats say vouchers 'take money from the poor to give to the rich'

Monday, while still ill with pneumonia, Patrick sent a statement saying in part, "Real leaders in Texas demand substantial legislative action, not small-minded hyperbole. Phelan’s tough talk after another failed special session is nothing but a fig leaf to cover up two regular sessions and six special sessions of lackluster leadership."

Sunday, the Senate met for a few minutes and went home without passing a House border bill.

Phelan criticized Patrick in a statement saying, "The security of the border and the safety of Texans is far too important to be caught up in the Senate's gears of political machinations.This bill was a priority of Governor Abbott's, and the House met that priority."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says there's been a breakthrough on school choice bill

As both Republican leaders continue to point fingers, the biggest question now is: will Gov. Abbott immediately call lawmakers back for a fourth special session?

"There is some discussion that the governor will wait to call this for a special session until February, with the idea of putting maximum pressure on those rural Republicans who continue to block the school choice legislation, since they will be simultaneously having to be in Austin for the session and blocking school choice," said Jones. "While they'll have opponents supported by the governor who will be campaigning against them in their district based on their opposition to school choice."

FOX 4 reached out to the governor's office for comment, but the office has not responded at this time.