In a recent interview with Texas Scorecard, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) discussed the controversial practice of Republican lawmakers awarding Democrats key committee chairmanships in the Texas House.
Committee chairs are responsible for selecting which bills their committee will review, which means that Democrats serving as chairmen can easily kill Republican legislation by simply not including conservative bills in the agenda.
In his interview, Slaton called out Republican lawmakers who slam Democrats along the campaign trail and then turn around and give them powerful committee positions in the Legislature.
“We spend a lot of money in the general election to defeat Democrats,” said Slaton. “A lot of narratives are written about how bad they are, how we don’t want them in leadership, we don’t want them to have elected office. But yet, in the Texas House, we literally give them chairmanships, which means they have more leverage and more power than they earn on Election Day.”
Although lawmakers who support the practice say they want to promote cooperation in the Texas House and avoid hostile conditions like those in D.C., Slaton explained that Republicans are allowing Democrats to kill Republican priorities.
“The Legislature is treated as a club … of course they want a camaraderie,” said Slaton. “I think the Republican members don’t want to mess that up. I think they’re hoping that if the Democrats take over, that the Democrats will make sure they’re chairmen. They just want to have this persona of being bipartisan, but the problem is what we lose … we’re losing good conservative public policy being implemented in our life.”
Slaton also highlighted how many of the Democrat politicians commonly criticized by Republicans along the campaign trail would receive a committee chairmanship under current Texas House practices.
“In Texas, you’re about to see six, seven, eight, nine months of bashing Beto, bashing AOC, the Democrats, and Joe Biden’s failed policies,” said Slaton. “But what they don’t want to tell you is that if Beto was running for Texas House of Representatives, he could be a chairman. Nancy Pelosi could be a chairman. All these Democrats they want to point to could be a chairman in the Texas House of Representatives.”
After becoming aware of the practice during his first legislative session, Slaton submitted a series of amendments stating that only members of the majority party could chair key committees. Although his amendments were shot down by both sides of the aisle, Slaton says he is still committed to ending the practice of Democrat committee chairs.
“It doesn’t make sense to me, or a lot of Republican voters, why we do this to ourselves,” said Slaton. “I don’t really care if someone thinks we look like D.C. We need to stand up for Texas. And if that means making sure Republicans are the chairmen, we should do that.”
To close out his interview, Slaton explained how banning Democrats from chairing key committees would push Republican lawmakers to pass conservative priority legislation.
“We literally are going to be in the driver’s seat, and the Democrats will have to fight as though they don’t have the votes to stop a lot of things,” said Slaton. “It also puts way more of a burden on the Republican elected officials and our leadership, because now if we don’t pass these items, it is 100 percent on us, and we don’t get to blame the Democrats.”