AUSTIN (Nexstar) — After stacking the public education committee with legislators who have previously expressed opposition to the idea of private school vouchers, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan said it is not out of the question for Texas’ lower chamber.
In a one-on-one interview with Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden Wednesday, the Beaumont Republican shied away from expressing outward support for using taxpayer money for private education, but didn’t rule it out completely.
“The appointment of that committee was not reflective of that. There’s members who are interested in having those discussions,” he said. “It’s going to come down to whether or not it has the votes in the Texas House and the past that has not.”
This session, Phelan appointed Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, to chair the House Public Education Committee, replacing Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, who chaired the committee during the 2021 session.
In the year leading up to this session, Phelan faced pressure from conservative activists in his party to ban anyone in the minority party, Democrats, from leading committees. Even the Texas GOP ran ads against Phelan in his district, calling on him to ban Democratic chairs, after earlier making that a key position of the Texas Republican Party platform. Phelan has stood by the House’s tradition, saying he chose chairs based on seniority, their qualifications and other factors when he announced committee appointments.
In his interview with Nexstar, Phelan suggested selecting fewer Democratic chairs this session was not a concession to the GOP, but partially a punishment to those who flew to Washington D.C., breaking quorum over an elections overhaul bill during the 2021 session.
“One factor was those who were willing to work with me, and we saw that through the quorum breaks last session,” Phelan said. “That was just one of the many factors. So I would say that there’s fewer Democratic chairs because there were some in the Democratic wing who want to turn this building into the nation’s Capitol.”