By\u00a0Cassandra Pollock\u00a0and\u00a0James Barrag\u00e1n\r\nThe unity and levity in the Texas House on the last day of the regular session directed toward Speaker\u00a0Dade Phelan\u00a0belied the political strife of the previous few days.\r\n\u201cWe always go through ups and downs, that\u2019s the nature of the Legislature,\u201d said state Rep.\u00a0Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, as the House prepared to adjourn the regular session. \u201cBut what we\u2019re really here to tell you is: You did a great job. Thanks for being a friend to the Texas House of Representatives. Thanks for standing up for the Texas House. Thanks for bringing integrity to the Texas House.\u201d\r\nThat praise was echoed throughout the day by House Republicans and Democrats in their own floor speeches. And it was a stark shift in tone from the escalating tensions that had hovered over the Legislature in recent days, culminating\u00a0in a walkout\u00a0by House Democrats that killed a controversial GOP elections bill, which the minority party said would restrict voting rights.\r\nSince the regular session ended last week, though, Phelan has been fending off criticism about his leadership from Lt. Gov.\u00a0Dan Patrick, the speaker\u2019s GOP counterpart in the Senate, who has blamed the speaker for failing to pass certain conservative priorities.\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re a conservative Republican state, and we don\u2019t need a speaker who\u2019s kowtowing to Democrats not to hurt their feelings or make them look bad when they go home,\u201d Patrick told Dallas radio host Mark Davis on Wednesday. \u201cThat\u2019s not our job. They lost the election, we won.\u201d\r\nMeanwhile, Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, has said he\u2019s satisfied with his first legislative session as leader of the House, with the exception of the failure of the elections bill and priority bail legislation that was also killed with the Democrats\u2019 walkout.\r\nIn interviews over the past week, Phelan has touted a list of conservative wins, such as passing legislation\u00a0to let Texans carry handguns without a license and approving some of the strictest restrictions on abortion in the country.\r\n\u201cI\u2019m going back to Beaumont feeling really good about the 87th session, considering all we had stacked against us and where we ended up,\u201d Phelan told The Texas Tribune in a June 1 interview. \u201cWe\u2019ll be back sooner rather than later \u2026 and we\u2019ll pick up whatever the governor wants us to do.\u201d\r\nTensions aside, Phelan\u2019s standing among House members \u2014 his colleagues who elected him speaker at the beginning of the year\u00a0with near unanimous support\u00a0\u2014 will be crucial heading into at least two special legislative sessions on the horizon, and with big-ticket items such as that controversial elections legislation and redistricting set to take center stage.\r\nDan Patrick\u2019s criticisms\r\nThe strained dynamics between the two chambers hit a peak on the final day for the House to pass Senate legislation, when three of Patrick\u2019s priority bills died before the deadline.\r\nThose priorities included legislation that could have led to a ban on using local government funds to pay for lobbyists,\u00a0a measure that would ban social media companies from blocking people based on their viewpoints, and\u00a0a bill\u00a0that would force transgender student athletes to play on sports teams based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their gender identity.\r\nDays later, on another crucial legislative deadline, Democrats orchestrated a mass walkout to break quorum, which prevented the chamber from considering a vote on those elections and bail bills \u2014 two priorities for Republican Gov.\u00a0Greg Abbott\u00a0\u2014 as well as a number of other pieces of legislation.\r\nThe most recent version of Senate Bill 7 that died was a sweeping bill that would have, among other things, created new limitations to early voting hours and curbed local voting options like drive-thru voting. The bill related to the bail system would have made it harder for people arrested to bond out of jail without cash.\r\nPatrick accused Phelan of slowing the passage of Republican priorities in the lower chamber to appease House Democrats, whose support helped win him the gavel. The lieutenant governor has also criticized Phelan for recessing the House for a couple of days in late May as lawmakers ran up against deadlines to pass legislation.\r\nThe speaker said the move was needed\u00a0to ease quickly escalating tensions\u00a0between the two chambers and that it did not impact certain priorities like SB 7 from failing to pass.\r\nAbbott, for his part, hasn\u2019t echoed Patrick\u2019s argument that the speaker was partly to blame for the elections bill failure and has instead aimed his criticism at House Democrats.\r\n\u201cI think I\u2019m not going to engage,\u201d Abbott told Lubbock radio host Chad Hasty during an interview Thursday when asked whether he agreed with Patrick\u2019s criticism. \u201cI\u2019ll consider this halftime of this game. \u2026 We just didn\u2019t get it done in the first half, but we look forward to getting it done in the second half.\u201d\r\nAs punishment for the Democrats\u2019 walkout, Abbott has vowed to block pay for the Legislature by vetoing a certain section of the state budget. Phelan has raised concerns with the governor\u2019s move should he go through with it, saying that it could harm government employees and other legislative agencies that did not play a role in the walkout.\r\nIn response to Phelan\u2019s concerns, Abbott has said the speaker \u201chas a role to play here\u201d and \u201cneeds to step up and get the job done.\u201d\r\n\u201cHe\u2019s not some outside viewer,\u201d the governor said. \u201cHe\u2019s a participant.\u201d\r\n\u201cThe House is going to operate by the rules\u201d\u00a0\r\nSome Democrats have rejected the notion that Phelan was \u201ckowtowing\u201d to their demands, arguing they played defense much of the session on highly contentious social issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights, elections, and guns.\r\nStill, Democratic leaders said Phelan fostered a respect for the chamber\u2019s rules, which include certain limits on when legislation can be eligible for consideration before the entire chamber. That adherence to the rules, they said, gave them confidence that they understood the terms of engagement for floor debate with GOP members.\r\n\u201cWithout rules, you don\u2019t have the foundation of the legislative process that\u2019s necessary to ensure its integrity,\u201d said state Rep.\u00a0Chris Turner, a Grand Prairie Democrat who chairs his party\u2019s caucus in the lower chamber. \u201cThe House is going to operate by the rules, that is my hope and my expectation. That means that each of the 150 members of the House will get to have some say in what happens.\u201d\r\nSome Democrats were able to finally push through causes they had championed unsuccessfully for years. State Rep.\u00a0Toni Rose, D-Dallas, praised Phelan for including\u00a0her bill extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers\u00a0as part of the speaker\u2019s priority health care package. A number of lawmakers had fought for years to extend that coverage as a way of fighting maternal mortality after birth.\r\n\u201cI would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,\u201d Rose said during a House floor speech on the last day of session. \u201cThis legislation is groundbreaking. It was a win for all mothers. \u2026 There\u2019s no doubt in my mind that had you not put your leadership behind it we may not have accomplished it.\u201d\r\nDemocrats also managed to stave off bills that targeted transgender kids. Those bills included efforts to ban gender-affirming health care and charging parents who provide those treatments with child abuse.\r\nThe biggest battle, though, was over legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender students in school sports. That bill, which was one of Patrick\u2019s priorities, died in committee but was revived and eventually scheduled for a vote on the House floor. On the final day, it could be approved, the bill was postponed without explanation and never considered.\r\nReferring to the night House Democrats broke quorum, Phelan has said publicly that he would not lock the chamber doors or send authorities after lawmakers \u2014 two actions he has the authority to do as speaker.\r\nPatrick, though, has said the speaker should have taken a harder line against Democrats.\r\n\u201cThis time, I hope the speaker won\u2019t say, \u2018Well, if you don\u2019t like this bill, it\u2019s OK to walk,\u2019\u201d Patrick said in an interview with Davis, the Dallas radio show host. \u201cNo, lock the doors or send the state troopers to get them.\u201d\r\nConservative support\r\nDespite taking that heat, there are no immediate outward signs that Phelan\u2019s hold on the gavel is in trouble.\r\nAs Patrick has aired his criticisms against the speaker, a number of House Republicans have taken to Twitter to defend Phelan, arguing that passing legislation such as the permitless carry bill would not have been possible without his leadership.\r\nState Rep. Justin Holland, R-Rockwall, wrote\u00a0on Twitter\u00a0that Phelan \u201cwas the only leader in Texas House history to allow for [the] flow of legislation and bills to hit the floor for votes on Constitutional Carry and Fetal Heartbeat \u2026 and they both happened in the same session.\u201d\r\nAnother House Republican,\u00a0James White\u00a0of Hillister, directly rebutted Patrick, saying the Phelan-led chamber \u201cupset Democrats a whole lot this session.\u201d\r\n\u201cLet me say it here, [Phelan] told me to get #ConstitutionalCarry out of the [House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee] quickly,\u201d\u00a0he tweeted.\r\nGun rights activists had tried for years to pass a permitless carry bill, but each attempt until this session had failed to make it far in the legislative process.\r\nPhelan also oversaw the passage of a fetal \u201cheartbeat\u201d bill, which bans abortions as early as six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. Abortion opponents had criticized Phelan\u2019s predecessor, Republican former speaker Dennis Bonnen, for assigning that bill to a committee chaired by a Democrat, where it eventually died without a hearing.\r\nRepublicans further to the right politically have also expressed support for Phelan. In the final week of the legislative session, the Texas House Freedom Caucus, a group of some of the most socially conservative lawmakers in the chamber,\u00a0urged Abbott\u00a0\u201cto call the Legislature back into special session immediately\u201d after several GOP priority bills died ahead of a House deadline to pass Senate bills.\r\nOn the final day of the session, though, state Rep.\u00a0Mayes Middleton, a Wallisville Republican who chairs the caucus, praised Phelan\u2019s work as speaker in a speech on the House floor before the chamber gaveled out.\r\n\u201cOn behalf of all the members, on behalf of the state of Texas, I want to thank you for all you\u2019ve done for us this session and your service to the state,\u201d Middleton said.\r\nThis story originally published by the Texas Tribune.