Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In the GOP, Texas Is in Charge

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The whispers are mounting that Hensarling, a former conference chairman, could launch a bid for the speaker’s gavel or majority leader.

We are the largest Republican delegation in the conference, and quite frankly, I’d like to see us exercise that clout a little bit more, ” he said.

If the party breakdown in the House remains about the same for the 114th Congress, the clout of those 24 votes alone would be enough to throw a speaker election to a second ballot, which itself would be its own footnote in congressional history — and that clout extends beyond 24 votes.

A senior GOP aide noted that chairmen “generally have their own fiefdom among their committee members on any vote, leadership races included.”

With those five chairmanships — perhaps soon to be six (or seven, if the stars somehow align for Kevin Brady on Ways and Means, or eight, if, miraculously, Louie Gohmert takes over Natural Resources) — a Texan could be a legitimate challenger for a leadership position, especially if Texans could wrangle support from the committees they control.

The NRCC money doesn’t hurt either. Thanks to the Texas legislature’s creative district lines — “We use the word ‘packed,’” Marchant said — there is really only one competitive district in Texas: the 23rd, represented by Democrat Pete Gallego.

That means Texas Republicans are free to give a healthy amount of their re-election spoils — and their fundraising time — to the NRCC and to other members.

All those factors give Texas tremendous influence — and Lone Star State members aren’t shy about it.

“We are an important damn delegation,” Rep. Michael C. Burgess said. “You know, the California members are sometimes jealous.”

This is Part I of an ongoing series on the Texas Republican delegation.

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