VIDEO: GOP Lawmakers Sign ‘Contract With Texas’

The House Chamber at the Texas Capitol
The House Chamber at the Texas Capitol | Image by Austin Price /The Texas Tribune

A group of 23 Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives and candidates in upcoming primary runoffs has signed a ‘Contract with Texas’ that outlines the minimum requirements for the next speaker of the House.

The contract includes a list of 12 demands for the next House speaker, claiming that the current speaker, Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), marked the most recent legislative session with “obstruction, dysfunction, and a lack of fundamental fairness in application of the House’s rules.”

The demands include that the next House speaker “[o]nly solicit support for Speakership from Republican members,” in addition to putting an end to appointing Democrats to chair House committees.

Phelan came under scrutiny during the most recent legislative session when he appointed eight Democrats as committee chairs, leaving Republican members to chair the remaining 26 committees, according to The Texas Tribune.

The push for the creation of the contract was reportedly led by Reps. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth), Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian), and Gary Gates (R-Richmond), as reported by Texas Scorecard.

Many of the remaining demands highlight the lack of faith in Phelan if he is re-elected as the representative for House District 21, which still remains uncertain as he heads into a runoff election against challenger David Covey on May 28.

Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) has already announced his intention to challenge Phelan, if he is re-elected, for House Speaker in the upcoming legislative session, noting that he would take a different approach from the incumbent.

Oliverson told reporters that “there would be no Democratic chairs in the House” if he is chosen as speaker, marking a clear difference between him and Phelan.

“The Texas House is a collegial body, but there is a difference between collegiality and capitulation. The majority must not be held captive by the will of the minority, and I believe the majority party should hold all committee chairs,” he said in a news release about his candidacy.

Phelan has had a rocky past few months within the Republican party, as some members of the party have reportedly become skeptical about his desire to secure the southern border amidst an ongoing crisis of unlawful crossings.

A resurfaced video of Phelan in a social media post by Harrison shows the speaker reading through and killing a border security bill during the legislative session.

“This is your legacy on border security. Killing the Border Protection Unit Act,” wrote Harrison in the post.

Another issue on which Phelan has seemingly sided against Republican lawmakers is the implementation of school choice in the Lone Star State, as he has stated that he would rather focus on other issues regarding public education than “propping up a certain type of educational system over another.”

“You’ll have to talk about not just school choice, but school finance and if there’s a robust investment in public education as well as [education savings accounts], and investment in teacher pay increase and an investment in school safety,” he explained, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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