Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
Just over an hour after lawmakers ended their second 30-day special session of the year, Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back for a third one, with transportation funding the only issue on the agenda.
"When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher, and a failure to act now could take years — if not most of a decade — to correct, as traffic congestion increases and harms our quality of life," Perry said in a statement announcing the call.
News of the call was apparent to leaders of the House and Senate earlier Tuesday as they wrapped up the second session's last day.
Standing before mostly empty chairs in the 150-member Texas House, House Speaker Joe Straus adjourned the second special session and announced that Perry would be calling them all back for a third special session later in the day.
After gaveling in the House at 2:36 p.m., Straus briefly thanked members for their time and hard work during the second special session before acknowledging Perry would probably call a third special session 30 minutes after both chambers had officially adjourned the second special session.
"See you in 30 minutes," he quipped, telling the few dozen House members in the Capitol to stick around for the opening of the third session.
The Senate convened briefly Tuesday afternoon and then quickly went into a “caucus of the whole” in which the full body meets in a room to speak privately. Before the start of the caucus, Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said he had the 21 Senate votes needed to pass House Joint Resolution 2, one of the two pieces of legislation that make up the transportation funding measure lawmakers have been trying to pass for weeks. The House voted down HJR 2 Tuesday, so a possible Senate vote would likely be symbolic.
About 40 minutes later, after the House adjourned sine die, the Senate reconvened and Dewhurst announced that there would be no vote on HJR 2.
“It’s my understanding that the governor is going to call us back in in a few minutes and I have some comments on that when we’re brought back in,” Dewhurst said. He thanked senators for their hard work.
“It’s been fun but I’ll see you soon," Dewhurst said, echoing his last words before the end of the first special session. He then adjourned the Senate.
This is the second special session in which lawmakers have tried and failed to pass a transportation funding measure. Lawmakers were already discussing what issues Perry might add to the agenda of a third special session.
Perry expressed his dissatisfaction with the House on Monday evening, after the chamber voted down HJR 2 84-40. The measure needed 100 votes to pass. Straus and state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, urged Perry not to call members back for a third special session right away.
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