Texas Republicans Set to Flex Their Muscles in 114th Congress
Texas will be sending 25 Republicans and two very powerful Senators to the 114th Congress which is set to kick-off in January, 2015. Key committee chairmanships for six of those House Republicans will give Texas control of nearly one-third of the House’s twenty-one committees. This positions Texas representatives to flex their muscle in the effort to extend the Texas model of success to the other 49 states.
For the first time in history, Texas will send twenty-five Republicans to the House of Representatives with the addition of Texas’ first black Republican federal lawmaker, Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) from San Antonio. Hurd defeated Democrat incumbent Grassroots freshmen Dr. Brian Babin (R-Tyler) and John Ratcliffe (R-Rockwall) will also be joining the Republican Delegation from Texas. Ratcliffe defeated Texas' oldest-ever Congressman, Ralph Hall in the Republican Primary and Babin replaced Steve Stockman who decided to run for the U.S. Senate against John Cornyn and failed.
In the Senate, Senator John Cornyn will become the Senate Republican Majority Whip, the 2nd most powerful position in the U.S. Senate having handily won re-election by defeating his Democrat opponent. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas’ junior Senator, will continue to represent a powerful voice in the Senate for grassroots issues.
The combination of powerful Texas Republican leadership in the House and Senate is being compared to “the days of legendary House Speaker Sam Rayburn and President Lyndon B. Johnson” according to an article by Kevin Diaz in the Houston Chronicle. Diaz also reports the ascension of Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan) to the influential Republican Study Committee regarded by many as the “conservative spine of the GOP conference.”
Flores has talked of promoting a "Texas model" in Washington, according to Diaz. "The fact that there are all these people in leadership positions allows us to promote the Texas way of doing things," he said.
Texas Republicans will now chair six committees in the U.S. House according to the list published by Speaker John Boehner. This represents nearly one-third of the House committee chairmanships. Rep. Michael McCaul’s election to chair the House Homeland Security Committee could mean a final resolution to generating a bill to secure the border. McCaul’s district stretches from Northwest Harris County to East Travis County. "Now, with a good-faith partner in the Senate, the time is ripe to get things done and finally achieve control down there," McCaul said of his plan to bolster the border. Diaz reported that McCaul also sees one of the roles of these Texas committee chairmen as building a bridge to mediate the divide between the tea party wing of the Republican Party and House leadership in Speaker John Boehner’s office.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) will chair the Science, Space and Technology Committee and said the will focus on NASA funds on space exploration and blocking Democrat’s efforts to shift money away from the space agency that supplies many high-paying jobs to the Texas economy. Democrats have attempted to shift the agency’s focus to the environmental science of climate change.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) picks up another committee chairmanship important to Texans and the state’s economy. He will chair the House Agriculture Committee. Agriculture is one of Texas leading industries.
The control of the powerful House Armed Services Committee will fall on Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Amarillo). Texas plays host to fifteen military bases all across the Lone Star State which significantly contribute to the economic stability of the state.
The House Committee on Financial Services will be chaired again by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas). This committee has oversight of the nation’s banking system, housing, insurance and the securities and exchanges. It also influences monetary organizations and financial counter-terrorism activities.
And finally, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) was appointed to Chair the House Rules Committee.
The Republicans from Texas will make up nearly 10 percent of the growing House Republican majority. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) said the leadership positions awarded to his fellow Texans is a “tribute to their hard work.” Brady, however, lost in his bid to become the first Texan to chair the House Ways and Means Committee since Bill Archer’s chairmanship in the Speaker Newt Gingrich era.
"One of the lessons is that when you lose leadership as a state, it takes time to regrow that leadership,” Brady told the Chronicle. “Now, from the days of Bill Archer, Tom DeLay and Dick Armey, it has taken some time to rebuild."