Lone Star Freshmen Get Plum Assignments, But Only One Texan Chairs A House Committee

The combination of retirements, election defeats and a change in party control has shifted the dynamic for Texans in the U.S. House.

By Rhonda Fanning & Kristen CabreraJanuary 24, 2019 11:59 am

We have talked about the influence Texas lost when senior members of the U.S. House retired or lost re-election bids. But what about the freshman members who replaced them? On what committees did they land, and does a freshman committee assignment have any influence on that lawmaker’s trajectory in politics? And while we’re at it, what will the elevation of two non-freshman Texans, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Will Hurd, mean for the state?

Paul Fabrizio, professor of political science at McMurry University in Abilene, says Colin Allred, a Democratic freshman from Dallas, scored seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“He’s got important assignments, and they’re all related to issues he cares about and that are important to the people of the Dallas area,” Fabrizio says.

Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who succeeded Beto O’Rourke in El Paso, serves on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees. Those posts align with her district’s proximity to the Fort Bliss military base, and to a number of issues related to crime and the courts.

Democrat Sylvia Garcia represents a Houston district affected by Hurricane Harvey. Fabrizio says the Financial Services Committee, on which she now serves, has jurisdiction over the National Flood Insurance Program.

“She can ask questions, she can work to insert phrases into legislation that could benefit her constituents,” Fabrizio says.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has been in Congress since 1992, became chair of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology when Democrats took control of the House. Fabrizio says Johnson is now the only Texan who chairs a House committee.

Republican Will Hurd, who represents much of the Texas border, has moved up to the Appropriations Committee.

“They’re the ones who have final say on who gets money,” Fabrizio says. “I would argue it’s a sign the Republican Party recognizes that he is an up-and-coming person that they need to treat with respect.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.