November 10, 2006
Less clout for Culberson on Metro?


U.S. Rep. John Culberson easily won re-election, but his party lost the House, which means the Houston Republican could lose some of the committee influence that has made him a force to be reckoned with in Metro's transit plans.

But local House Democrats said it is virtually certain Culberson will keep his seat on a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that authorizes transit funds and will continue to have a strong say on projects in his district.

His influence could be diluted if Democrats succeed in placing newly elected Democrat Nick Lampson on the same subcommittee, where Culberson is now the sole Texan among 15 members.

Would that be in addition to Approps (if possible) and Science (I presume)? Note to self: follow up on this.

"I think generally the new majority is much more sensitive to mass transit and light rail," said U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston. "But we still have to work to get our money, and Culberson is going to be on that committee, and we still need to have his help."

Green and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said they want Lampson on the subcommittee but also want Culberson to stay.

"He (Culberson) is there from Texas, and although he and I have some philosophical differences, he's helped me get money for some of my transportation projects," Green said.

"I want any Texan I can get to be well-received on any committee they might be on because that is an asset for Texas," Jackson Lee agreed. "What we want is to make sure that we are fighting for Texas and that the resources that Texas sends to Washington come back in full force to the state of Texas."

Despite the new majority, Green said he does not intend to press the issue of whether the University line segment west of Main should go on Richmond or Westpark.

"That's John's concern. It's his area, and we're pretty territorial," Green said. "I'm not going to get involved in the Richmond controversy as long as he stays out of my district."

Putting all that nicey-nicey stuff aside, what Culberson fights against is as important as what he fights for. I sincerely hope that Reps. Green and Jackson Lee remind him of that sometime during the next session.

Robin Holzer of the Citizens Transportation Coalition - a grass-roots group that has supported rail on Richmond and said Culberson should not interfere in the federally prescribed route-selection process - said Lampson's election will probably have little effect on the University line debate.

However, Holzer and Jackson Lee said the defeat of another Richmond rail opponent, state Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, could give Metro a freer hand in choosing a route.

As if I needed another reason to celebrate Wong's defeat by State Rep. (how sweet that is!) Ellen Cohen. At Robin and Christof's request, I'll be adding in Wong's numbers to the Richmond rail precinct analysis once the data is available. Given the extra strong push in Montrose to defeat Wong, it'll be interesting to see how much (if at all) her relative totals differ from Culberson's. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 10, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

The Transit subcommittee Culberson sits on it an Approps subcommittee. Generally, members who sit on Appropriations don't sit on other committees. If Lampson lands a slot on Approps, I doubt he'll also be on Science. Culberson gave up his seat on the Transportation Committee when he got his Approps seat. You may want to double check me on this, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

Posted by: Owlsfan on November 10, 2006 10:05 AM

Lots of "ifs" have to occur for Lampson to have the influence the Chronic is afeared of - and that's even assuming Lampson chooses to impede what the Chronic considers "progress".

The Chronic is prematurely and unnecessarily drawing a line in the sand. Makes it sound like the Chronic, who has no vote in our democracy, is trying to threaten or "bully" our elected officials - likely for no reason other than the fact that they think they can.

A local radio station is doing this too but for another reason: to prepare a more favorable constituency for a republican replacement for Lampson.

Lampson is wise enough to avoid the bullies.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on November 10, 2006 12:48 PM