Texas House of Representatives members on Tuesday voted 145-3 to elect state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, to a second term as speaker — the most powerful position in the lower chamber.
He defeated state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, who was nominated by ultraconservative members who feel Phelan is unreasonably accommodating of Democrats in the chamber. Tinderholt cast a ballot for himself, as did two Republican members who nominated him, Nate Schatzline of Tarrant County and Bryan Slaton of Royce City.
Phelan guided the House through the 2021 legislative sessions, which some observers called “the most conservative” in state history. Lawmakers passed new laws banning almost all abortions and allowing permitless carry of handguns.
But conservative grassroots activists said the House had not gone far enough on conservative priorities like banning gender-affirming care for transgender children and have often butted heads with Phelan. Critics attacked him for appointing Democrats to leadership positions in the chamber, following a long-held chamber tradition to appoint members of the minority party as committee chairs. Phelan has not budged on the issue, indicating he once again plans to allow some Democratic chairs and arguing that the Texas House operates better on a bipartisan basis and eschewing the divisiveness seen in Washington, D.C.
See here for the background. The two main differences between Speaker Phelan and Speaker Tinderholt is that Tony Tinderholt is an asshole, and Dade Phelan will appoint some Democratic committee chairs. In terms of outcomes, the Lege is still going to pass brutal right-wing legislation, with no real limit on their id beyond their own capacities for shame and empathy. I suppose there’s a chance that Speaker Phelan might help bottle up a particularly noxious bill that some Republican members would rather not have to vote on, but I wouldn’t expect much. This is where we are.