Much to the ire of the Republican Party, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has announced the committee assignments for the 88th Legislative Session and continued the practice of appointing Democrats to committee chairman positions.
Banning Democrat committee chairmanships is one of eight Republican priorities for 2023, and although it is supported by more than 81 percent of Republican voters, a majority of Republican lawmakers failed to deliver.
When grassroots conservatives converged on Austin last month, Phelan (R–Beaumont) refused to even allow a vote on whether or not Democrats should be allowed to chair important committees in the Texas House.
Now, Phelan has appointed eight Democrats to chairmanships of standing committees, down from 13 appointments last session. Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi told Texas Scorecard this is still a “win,” saying, “Republican opposition to Democrat chairs clearly had an effect in reducing the number of Democrats in leadership.”
The following House committees will be chaired by Democrats:
Business & Industry – Oscar Longoria (D–Mission)
Corrections – Abel Herrero (D–Robstown)
County Affairs – Victoria Neave (D–Dallas)
Criminal Jurisprudence – Joe Moody (D–El Paso)
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues – Harold Dutton (D–Houston)
Natural Resources – Tracy King (D–Uvalde)
Resolutions Calendar – R.D. “Bobby” Guerra (D–Mission)
Transportation – Terry Canales (D–Edinburg)
“It is unfathomable the speaker put left-wing Democrats in charge of important and very partisan policy areas like criminal law, business, family issues, and youth health and safety,” said Rinaldi.
Phelan has also created two select House committees: Youth Health & Safety and Healthcare Reform.
Democrat Senfronia Thompson (Houston) will chair the Youth Health and Safety Committee, drawing criticism from Rinaldi.
“In the wake of an unprecedented spike in crime in Democrat areas, how do you put a Democrat in charge of criminal law issues who is pro-BLM and blamed the El Paso shooting on guns and Gov. Abbott opposing illegal immigration?” asked Rinaldi.
Additionally, Phelan has appointed Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth) to chair the Public Health Committee once again. Last session, Klick faced accusations of killing protections against child gender mutilation.
Notably, Phelan has only moved Dutton from chairing the Public Education Committee to the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee.
The Public Education Committee will be chaired by Brad Buckley (R–Salado), who has previously voted against school choice funding amendments in the budget but is still “the most school choice friendly Public Education chair we have had in over a decade,” according to Rinaldi.
The Committee on Business and Industry and the Committee on Corrections, meanwhile, both have the distinction of being made up of a majority of Democrats.
State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City), who led the charge against putting Democrats in charge of committees, said the grassroots experienced some victories from the appointments.
“Our push took Democrats from 13 chairmanships down to eight. The pressure from the grassroots led to Democrats not being appointed as chairs to key committees such as Public Education and Pensions & Investments,” said Slaton. “Unfortunately, Speaker Phelan appointed some very radical Democrats to chair committees handling our criminal justice system and the family courts, as just a few examples. Today’s partial win has invigorated many of us to continue our pressure until we have zero Democrats chairing committees in the Texas House.”
“I look forward to working with the grassroots to help pass the other seven legislative priorities of the Texas GOP this session,” he added.
The full list of committee assignments can be found here.