18 House Republicans Opposed to Appointing Democratic Committee Chairs
The biggest non-policy debate in the Texas House is centered on members of the minority party being appointed to chair committees — powerful positions that can control the movement of legislation.
Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) appointed 13 Democrats to chair committees last session, ranging from those as basic as the Resolutions Committee to as critical as the Public Education Committee. But after much of the House Democratic delegation broke quorum last year not once but twice, the issue gained more traction than before the bust.
It’s also the focus of the longshot challenge to Phelan’s speakership by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington).
That sets the table for a must-watch House rules fight after the body reconvenes next month.
Per the Republican Party of Texas, which has advocated heavily against such appointments, there are 18 House Republicans that have committed to support a ban on Democrats being given committee chairmanships. They are:
- Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)
- Ben Bumgarner*
- Mano DeAyala*
- Mark Dorazio*
- Gary Gates (R-Richmond)
- Caroline Harris*
- Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian)
- Richard Hayes*
- Carrie Isaac*
- Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
- Nate Schatzline*
- Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
- Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City)
- Valoree Swanson (R-Spring)
- Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington)
- Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands)
- Ellen Troxclair*
- Cody Vasut (R-Angleton)
- Terri Leo Wilson*
*Denotes an incoming member.
Editor’s Note: This list has been updated to include DeAyala, who was added to a subsequent list by the Texas GOP.
Rep. Moody Quells Rumors About El Paso DA Appointment
Yvonne Rosales resigned from her post as El Paso district attorney last month, leaving the vacancy open for Gov. Greg Abbott to fill.
Rosales faced pressure to resign for her alleged “mishandling” of the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting. The governor will soon appoint her successor.
Among the names floated to replace Rosales was state Rep. Joe Moody (R-El Paso) — one of the top Democrats in the Texas House and the chamber’s speaker pro tempore until he partook in the two quorum breaks. Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) removed him from the position after Moody and over 50 other Democrats flew to Washington, D.C. for a month.
In a Monday email, Moody threw cold water on the suggestion that he succeed Rosales.
“I’ve repeatedly heard from El Pasoans that they hope or even expect I’ll be appointed to the role,” he said. “I’m honored by your trust, but I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. The reality is that these appointments are partisan, so the governor will select a member of his own party; there’s no chance a Democrat will be chosen.”
“On top of that, while I want to heal the wound this DA created, I’ve also been elected to represent us in the House. To me, that’s a promise to the people, and with just one month before the legislative session, accepting another role would mean abandoning that. I owe the voters what they voted for, and as the dean of our legislative delegation, I’m committed to leading El Paso’s efforts at the Capitol in the coming months and delivering victories that will make our community stronger.”
Administration Committee Considers House Rules Proposals
The Texas House Administration Committee, which oversees all of the internal rules and housekeeping aspects of the chamber, considered testimony from members pushing for certain changes to the body’s rules next session.
A couple of days after the Texas Legislature convenes for the first day of the regular session — set for January 10 next year — the lower chamber establishes its internal set of rules that will govern its procedure during the biennium.
Every session, a lengthy floor debate occurs featuring proposed tweaks and wholesale changes to the set of rules. Another such clash is primed for January, with one focus dwarfing all others: the appointment of Democratic committee chairs.
That topic was again brought up by state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City), who filed those proposed changes during the 2021 legislative session — both of which failed.
The idea drew criticism from one Democrat on the dais, state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), one of the 13 House Democrats appointed to chair a committee during the 87th Legislature.
Other proposed changes ranged from requiring specific Points of Order on the floor to be figured out in advance of raising it in the first place; allowing Points of Order to be raised directly with the parliamentarian rather than only at the Back Mic; continue the permission to testify virtually in committee hearings; making publicly available the documents provided to committees; permitting drinking water on the House floor; and nixing some of the 2021 COVID-19 provisions.
Due to the constitutional prohibition against voting on legislation from the floor during the first 60 days of the session, the House Rules debate will be the first and only floor action for a while next year.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.