The House Republican Caucus unanimously voted to amend its bylaws to call for it to elect a favored Speaker candidate through a secret ballot.

A candidate for Speaker must receive the support of two thirds of the caucus to be considered the caucus’s preferred candidate. The vote threshold drops to three fifths if neither of the last two candidates can get to two thirds’ support. The bylaws do not include enforcement provisions, but the Republican Party of Texas is asking its House candidates to sign a statement that they will vote for the Caucus’s preferred candidate.

A letter from the Freedom Caucus to Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), the chair of the Republican caucus, is regarded as the precipitating event leading to the formation of a work group on Speaker selection and, ultimately, to today’s vote. Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, called the new process a “historic change” in a tweet. “Good process can lead to a great GOP Speaker nominee,” he said, a sentiment generally echoed by other Republican members.

Empower Texans called it a “stunning failure” that is “out of step with the Republican platform.” A recent resolution approved by the State Republican Executive Committee called for the caucus to select a candidate by majority vote.

The new process would, in effect, mirror the process used by the Republican caucus just prior to the 2011 legislative session.

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