Members of the Texas House soundly rejected a proposal to prevent Democrats from chairing key committees, despite Republicans holding a majority of seats in the chamber.
The proposal came in the form of amendments to the House rules, which govern how the chamber operates during the session.
Freshman State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) brought an amendment that would have limited committee chairs of key committees to only members of the majority party.
It’s an issue that has thwarted Republican priorities for years.
Appointing Democrats to serve as hatchet-men on key legislative committees has been a strategy heavily utilized by former Speakers Joe Straus and Dennis Bonnen to kill conservative legislation.
For example, during the most recent session, constitutional carry—a longtime legislative priority for Texas Republicans—was killed by a Democrat-led committee.
That amendment was swiftly rejected 11-27.
After the defeat, Slaton didn’t shy away.
Instead, he returned to the microphone with a new amendment to prevent the minority party from chairing all committees.
The opposition then brought up State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), who read a prepared statement opposing Slaton’s amendment, arguing that the Texas House should not operate like Washington D.C.
His opposition came despite his own legislation—which would have banned abortions when a heartbeat is detected—being sent to a Democrat-led committee last session and subsequently being killed.
After his speech, the House once again voted down Slaton’s amendment, this time by 5-135. Only Republican State Reps. Kyle Biedermann (Fredericksburg), Jeff Cason (Bedford), Phil Stephenson (Rosenberg), and Tony Tinderholt (Arlington) joined Slaton in supporting his effort.
Earlier this week, House Speaker Dade Phelan confirmed that he would appoint Democrats to chair House committees. Committee appointments are expected to come in February.