Texas

Beaumont Representative Dade Phelan is again elected Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

AUSTIN — Amid post-pandemic hugs and relief at a return to normality, members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday re-elected Republican Rep. Dade Phelan as Speaker for the second time as the Legislature convened again in Austin.

Phelan, a property developer from Beaumont, defeated Arlington Republican Party representative Tony Tinderholt, 145–3, with two members absent.

Tinderholt accused Phelan of not being conservative enough, ignoring the wishes of the Texas Republican Party, and ceding too much power to the Democrats. Texans deserve conservative governance, he said.

“They need me to fight to change this broken system,” Tinderholt said.

Phelan, 47, a five-term member of the House of Representatives, shrugged off criticism as he touched on some of his goals in Tuesday’s session. He called the 2021 session one of the most conservative in history. He warned that the bipartisan tradition of the Legislative Assembly should not be lightly dismissed.

While the outcome of Tuesday’s vote was never in doubt – last month Phelan rebuffed Tinderholt in a non-binding Republican ballot, 78-6 – both candidates and their supporters cited last week’s four-day bickering over the election of U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“Please don’t confuse this body with the one in Washington, DC,” Phelan said. “After watching Congress try to get started last week, I can’t understand why some would want Texas to be like DC.”

“We know there are people on both sides of the political spectrum who want the same kind of dysfunction for Texas,” said Rep. Cody Harris, the Palestinian Republican who nominated Phelan.

He urged members of the House of Representatives to reject Washington, D.C.’s “dark and broken path” and pay attention to candidates’ skills and experience over their party affiliations.

Dallas Rep. Angie Chen Button, a Republican, and Tony Rose, a Democrat, vouched for Phelan’s leadership skills.

“Leaders bring people together and look for solutions,” Button said. “Dade Phelan is the leader.”

Rose told how Phelan backed her bill last session to try to lower the maternal mortality rate in Texas by expanding Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to 12 months. The Senate reduced the extended coverage to six months, and it was delayed in a spat between the state and the federal government. According to Rose, Phelan has not wavered in his support for the move.

Royce City Republican Party spokesman Brian Slaton, who nominated Tinderholt, said Phelan failed to pass a ban on treatment for transgender children, deeper property tax cuts and measures to stop illegal immigration.

“We can only get a few wins in every session,” Slayton said of the staunch conservatives.

Freshman GOP representative Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth supported Tinderholt’s nomination.

“I’m looking for someone who votes for biblical Christian values,” he explained.

In a roll call vote, Tinderholt, Slaton, and Schatzline cast their single votes for Tinderholt. (Two members, Dallas Democrat Ana-Maria Ramos and Denton Republican Richard Hayes, were absent.)

The Texas Legislature begins on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know

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