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Texas

GOP activists condemn Texas House decision to allow Democrats to lead committees, but a day late

Austin. Hundreds of staunch conservative Republican activists came to the House gallery and members’ offices Thursday to deplore the House’s practice of allowing Democrats to run committees.

However, they arrived a day late.

On Wednesday, in passing its rules for the session, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives sidestepped pressure from die-hard conservatives to pass a provision barring Democrats from holding gavels. Citing technical details, Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, ruled out the proposed amendment.

Republican Representatives Tony Tinderholt of Arlington and Brian Slaton of Royce City led efforts to change the Texas Legislature’s decades-old practice of having minority party members chair at least a few committees.

The Texas Republican Party, Wise County conservatives, and other hard-line conservative groups organized buses to take citizens to Austin to win all-Republican committee chairs in the House of Representatives. In the Senate in recent years, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has allowed only one Democratic chairman.

State party leader Jill Glover of Denton County said 10 buses were chartered, each seating 50 people, and up to 700 people arrived in Austin.

But they didn’t come that day.

“I think they knew you were coming and pushed it back to yesterday,” Tinderholt told more than 200 people at a rally on the north side of the Capitol.

Referring to Phelan’s backing of a “order of conduct clause” against the “no Democratic chairs” proposal, Tinderholt added, “It was a pretty messy business.”

State GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi of Irving, although not at the rally, said in a written statement that Phelan “has shown the utmost disdain for Republican voters by refusing to even allow voting” on a proposal to ban party committee leaders.

Phelan’s spokeswoman Kate Wittman disputed Tinderholt’s claim that the speaker “shifted” the rules discussion. She said Phelan could not set a timetable for the House until after he was elected Speaker on Tuesday afternoon, and in past sessions the date of rules has changed.

“Someone made the wrong assumption about the Chamber’s schedule,” Wittman said. “There is no one else’s fault but their own.”

She noted that Phelan had previously stated that none of the Republican legislative priorities had been killed by Democratic chairmen in recent sessions in which he had wielded influence.

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At the state GOP convention last June in Houston, delegates passed eight legislative priorities for this year’s session, including ending joint committee chairs with Democrats. Earlier, in the GOP primary in March, 81% of voters agreed with a non-binding proposal that Democrats should not be named, Rinaldi said.

On Thursday, Rinaldi hinted that the state party would support moves at the county level to denounce House Republicans who are blocking such proposals.” Such “Rule 44 resolutions” can result in withholding party funds from candidates.

Most of the activists were wearing red T-shirts with the inscription “BAN democratic chairs!”. Watching state representatives and senators gather in the House of Representatives to jointly campaign for governor and lieutenant governor on November 8, activists applauded when Tinderholt and Slayton rose from the table to greet them.

The rule change, overturned by Phelan’s parliamentary action, was proposed on Wednesday by Slayton. Four of the six members of the House of Representatives who signed the Slayton Amendment also come from North Texas: Brian Harrison of Midlothian, Richard Hayes of Denton, and Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth and Tinderholt. Everyone spoke at the rally on Thursday.

In his speech, Tinderholt singled out Plano Republican Rep. Jeff Leach, saying he delivered papers to MPs on Wednesday in support of a point of order that sidelined Slayton’s amendment.

The lich “worked against you,” Tinderholt said.

In an email, Leach said Tinderholt “blatantly lied and misled” GOP activists.

“Yesterday I had no part in the consideration of the serial number and had nothing to do with preventing a vote on any amendment to the rules,” Leach said. “Unfortunately, Tony seems to care more about creating chaos and promoting himself than he does about working with us to promote conservative values.”

A spokesperson for Tinderholt did not respond to a request for comment.

Texas House Republicans Support Keeping Dade Phelan as Speaker of the House

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