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Patrick Re-Appoints Democrat Whitmire to Chair Senate Criminal Justice Committee

Texas GOP Ignores Senate as Longstanding Tradition Continues

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced his appointments to committees in the Texas Senate earlier this morning, and once again appointed Democrat John Whitmire as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.

Patrick has appointed Whitmire as Chairman of the Criminal Justice committee every session that he has served as Lt. Governor. Whitmire, who is currently a candidate for Mayor of Houston, has served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice since 2003.

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While the Republican Party of Texas “legislative priority” to ban Democrats from holding chairmanships of legislative committees is applicable to both the Texas House and Texas Senate, only House members and leadership have seemingly drawn the ire of the Party.

The Republican Party of Texas recently released a radio ad attacking Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, accusing him of “teaming up with Democrats to kill our Republican priorities” due to his continuation of the decades-long practice of members of the minority party holding committee chairmanships in both the Texas House and Texas Senate.

The Texas GOP’s radio ad made no reference to the numerous conservative victories achieved under Phelan’s leadership as Speaker last session, such as banning abortion, passing constitutional carry, or prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Texas schools. The Republican Party of Texas did not launch a similar ad campaign targeting Patrick, even though he has also continued the tradition of appointing members of the minority party to chair committees in the Texas Senate.  

In a recent tweet about committee chairmanships, Republican Party of Texas State Chairman Matt Rinaldi stated, “Putting Democrats in charge of public education and criminal law is bad.” The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, Chaired by Democrat Whitmire, has jurisdiction over criminal law.

Earlier during the legislative session, the Texas Senate unanimously passed rules allowing for the appointment of Democratic committee chairs. There was no attempt by any Senator to amend the Senate’s rules to prohibit Democrats from holding committee chairmanships.

Neither the Republican Party of Texas nor Rinaldi have indicated that they plan to protest the Texas Senate or run radio advertisements regarding the continued appointment of Democratic committee chairs in the Texas Senate.

In remarks during his inauguration last week, Patrick differentiated the Texas legislature from Congress and emphasized the fact that the vast majority of issues addressed by the legislature are not partisan in nature, noting that “98 to 99% of all bills” pass with bipartisan support.

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