Some of the Democrats are still said to be grumbling over committee appointments, and Matt Angle of the Lone Star Project blasted Straus for appointing Republicans to head the most important committees. Everybody is fixated over the R vs. D question, but they are missing the big picture of the Straus committee appointments. Straus appointed 18 Republican chairs and 16 Democratic chairs. But 10 of the chairmanships went to the ABCs (Straus being the 11th). Anybody who knows where the bathrooms are located in the Capitol knew that this was going to happen: All the ABCs were going to get chairmanships. Of the other 65 Republicans, only 8 got chairmanships. These were Corte (Defense & Veteran’s Affairs); Todd Smith (Elections); Branch (Higher Ed); Hunter (Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence); Smithee (Insurance); Land & Resource Management (Bonnen); Pensions, Investments, & Financial Services (Truitt); and Public Health (Kolkhorst). Except for Corte, who gets bonus points from being from San Antonio, none of the Republican chairman are identified with the hardcore social conservatives, who were shut out of chairmanships. That is the point the Democrats are missing. Straus gave them a House that is run by moderates. They have a chance to get their bills out of committee and out of Calendars. The wing nuts have been relegated to the back microphone. Look at Calendars: 8 Republicans, of whom 6 are ABCs and the other 2 are Creighton and Kolkhorst. The committee appointments signal loud and clear what kind of House Straus wants. In addition to putting the centrists in control, he pushed the major participants in the battles of the last three sessions to the periphery of the action. On the Democratic side, Dunnam, Gallego, and Coleman have chairmanships, but their committees are not the center of the action. On the Republican side, the Craddick loyalists–Chisum, Phil King, Hartnett, Morrison, Woolley–have been relegated to minor roles. This is not by accident. And the Craddick D’s, whose dalliances with the ex-speaker also fed the fires of discontent last session, no longer have chairmanships (except for McClendon, another San Antonian). It seems to me that Straus is sending the message that it is time to move on from the battles of the past, and that the combatants who threw the House into turmoil on both sides of the aisle are not going to be leaders in the future. Straus passed the torch to a new generation of members, Republican and Democrat, who chafed at the leadership of their parties and are ready to govern instead of fight. That sounds to me like a pretty good deal for the Democrats. And the Republicans. And the House.
Politics & Policy