Term Limits, Retirements to Reduce Texas Congressional Influence

No matter which side wins control of Congress in November, Texas stands to lose much of its influence in Washington due to term limits and retirements, especially on the Republican side.

Of the seven U.S. House chairmen from Texas, three will be termed out in January and two of which – Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Rep. Lamar Smith – are retiring altogether. Longtime Reps.Joe Barton, R-Ennis; Gene Green, D-Houston; Sam Johnson, R-Richardson; and Ted Poe, R-Humble also are retiring.

“You want committee chairmanship because otherwise you're going to the committee chair and begging him or threatening him to get him to take Texas concerns into account,” says Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

“It really depends upon whether Republicans remain in charge,” he says. “If they do, there are other senior Republicans who are just about ready to move up, so the period that Texas would be without major committee chairmanships would be less.”

Jillson says Texas really has only one ranking Democrat in Congress, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas.

“It will still be the case that Texas is a big state, people have to pay attention to it, we'll get our share, but we're just used to getting more than our share,” he says.

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