Who Will Chair House Committees?

All the schmoozing and strategizing involved in seeking the job of Texas House Speaker is worth it come February, when the leader of the lower chamber gets to choose the chairmen of committees, who have the power to stop, slow or speed legislation through the process.

Last session, Republicans held just over two-thirds of the chairmanships in a House that was almost evenly divided along party lines. But this session has a much greater Republican majority — a supermajority, in fact — leaving open questions about who will get which choice slots. Adding to the uncertainly is planned or unplanned attrition: A close look at the 34 standing committees from the 2009 session reveals that more than a quarter of the chairmen won’t be returning, having retired or lost their reelection bids.

Click the filters on this interactive table to see what the chairmanships looked like in 2009 and who’s coming back to the House in 2011. You may also filter the list by party.

Agriculture & Livestock
Border & Intergovernmental Affairs
Business & Industry
County Affairs
Criminal Jurisprudence
Culture, Recreation & Tourism
Defense & Veterans Affairs
Energy Resources
Environmental Regulation
General Investigating & Ethics
Higher Education
House Administration
Human Services
Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
Land & Resource Management
Licensing & Administrative Procedures
Local & Consent Calendars
Natural Resources
Pensions, Investments & Financial Services
Public Education
Public Health
Public Safety
Rules & Resolutions
State Affairs
Technology, Economic Development & Workforce
Urban Affairs
Ways & Means
Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles
Jim Pitts
Veronica Gonzales
Joe Deshotel
Brian McCall
Jim McReynolds
Garnet Coleman
Pete Gallego
Mark Homer
Frank Corte, Jr.
Todd Smith
Jim Keffer
Byron Cook
Chuck Hopson
Dan Branch
Charlie Geren
Patrick Rose
John Smithee
Todd Hunter
Dennis Bonnen
Edmund Kuempel
Senfronia Thompson
Allan Ritter
Vicki Truitt
Rob Eissler
Lois Kolkhorst
Tommy Merritt
Delwin Jones
Ruth Jones McClendon
Burt Solomons
Mark Strama
Joe Pickett
Yvonne Davis
Rene Olivera

The 2009 Chairmen

In the U.S. Congress, the caucus of the majority party selects chairmen. In the Texas House, the Speaker has unilateral power to decide who will head committees.

Chairmen play a major role in shaping, passing or killing legislation. There are no rules governing how they’re chosen, but speakers typically pick members with strengths in relevant issue areas. By tradition, at least a few members of the opposing party are given chairmanships each session.

While the House was nearly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats in 2009, Speaker Joe Straus showed a preference for Republican chairs on more than two out of every three standing committees. Democrats were additionally named to chair subcommittees and select panels.

Straus’ opponents complain that his Republican chairs in 2009 were largely moderate — an argument that is fueling the challenge to the Speaker’s reelection.

Committees Republicans Democrats Openings