With State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) poised to be officially elected as speaker of the Texas House in a few weeks, four of his Republican colleagues are asking him to commit to not putting Democrats in charge of key legislative committees.
Phelan’s trajectory to take the gavel has had grassroots activists concerned since his campaign began. When he first announced he had secured commitments from a majority of House members just a day after the general election, the list was riddled with liberal Democrats, forcing speculation on what was bartered for their support.
The scrutiny increased when Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West called Phelan a “political traitor” for courting Democrats.
“The Republican Party of Texas will not sit back idly and watch leftist Democrats be placed as Committee Chairmen who will undermine, kill, our legislative priorities, as happened in the 86th Texas Legislative Session,” said West.
Regardless, Phelan was nominated by the Republican Caucus as their choice for speaker earlier this month.
This week, four lawmakers signed their names onto a letter urging Phelan to consider the fate of Republican priorities when deciding whether to appoint liberal Democrats to oversee certain committees in the Texas House.
In the letter, they explained how Democrat-led committees have historically killed conservative priorities:
For many years, Democrats have chaired committees like Higher Education and Homeland Security & Public Safety. Last session in Higher Education, legislation prohibiting illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer subsidized tuition rates never received a vote. In Homeland Security & Public Safety, they refused to hear Constitutional Carry in both 85th and 86th legislative sessions. Furthermore, Democrats were given unilateral control of the Public Health Committee which allowed them to kill legislation that would ban abortion when a child’s heartbeat can be detected. Ironically, this legislation passed in our neighboring state of Louisiana and was signed into law by a Democrat Governor.
Appointing Democrats to serve as hatchet-men on key legislative committees was a strategy heavily utilized by former Speakers Joe Straus and Dennis Bonnen.
The four implored Phelan to “inform Republican members on [his] intentions regarding giving Democrats power over our Republican priorities prior to [his] election to the position of speaker.”
As of publishing, Phelan had not responded to the letter. Members of the Texas House will vote for the next speaker when they reconvene on January 12, 2021.