Following a lengthy battle for control of the speakership, House Republicans moved to begin reorganizing the House, following a delay caused by opposition to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), including decisions involving the leadership behind key panels in the House.
The House GOP Steering Committee, a panel of around 30 lawmakers consisting of leadership and elected regional representatives that helps decide committee assignments and leadership, determined its choices for chairs of panels, which were uncontested in December.
However, its selections for four key contested chairmanships had been placed on hold as the House Freedom Caucus, the group of vocal conservatives that held up McCarthy’s speakership, hopes attempts to garner key chairmanships for themselves, notably in Homeland Security, Ways and Means, Budget, and Education and Workforce committees. Those chairs have now been decided.
House Republicans usually choose ranking members and committee chairs weeks prior to the new Congress, allowing time for the incoming leaders to hire staff and get organized. McCarthy also has influence over the steering panel with four votes, while Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) gets two and other members get one.
Over the weekend, McCarthy also selected Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), who voted against McCarthy on many of the 15 speaker ballots last week, to fill the “Speaker Designee” slot on the Steering Committee.
Thus far, the Steering Committee has determined four contested chairmanships and one uncontested.
The House GOP Steering Committee selected Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) on Monday evening to chair the Small Business Committee, the only uncontested committee chairmanship yet to be formalized by the Steering Committee after it made selections for other uncontested gavels in December. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) did not seek another term to chair the panel.
In addition, the Steering Committee gave Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) an exception from House GOP Conference Rules to run for the gavel of the Education and the Workforce Committee, known under Democrats as the Committee on Education and Labor.
GOP Rules allow members to serve only three consecutive terms as head of a panel, and Foxx finished up her third term as the top Republican on the panel at the end of the last Congress. However, her office confirmed that the GOP Steering Committee had selected her to lead Republicans for a fourth term.
Following the retirement of longtime former Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), a three-way race emerged for chair of the Ways and Means Committee, a powerful tax-writing committee
Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO), Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) sought the seat.
Adrian Smith garnered the fewest votes on the first ballot, leading the panel to go to a second round of voting to determine between Buchanan and Jason Smith, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) confirmed.
Jason Smith, a close McCarthy ally, had been in negotiations last week to strike a deal with the Freedom Caucus on behalf of the now-speaker. He opted against a potential run for Senate in the 2022 cycle as he announced a bid for the powerful chairmanship.
That decision has seemingly paid off, as Smith managed to clinch the seat, beating out Buchanan for one of the most crucial jobs in the House.
In a statement, Smith said the panel will “build on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and examine how our policies can reward working families with a tax code that delivers better jobs, higher wages, and more investment in America” as well as examine tax benefits for “corporations that have shed their American identity in favor of a relationship with China.”
“We will examine using both trade policy and our tax code to re-shore and strengthen our supply chains, where products and services vital to our national security are made here at home using American labor, as well as craft policies that help America achieve food and medical security rather than dependence on nations like China,” Smith continued. “We must also look at ways to encourage domestic energy production and achieve energy independence through the tax code instead of using it as a tool to punish energy producers as President Biden has suggested.”
Adrian Smith congratulated the new chairman in a statement, thanking his colleagues and his family for their support.
“Jason’s success means success for the entire Conference and – even more importantly – for the American people,” Adrian Smith said.
Finally, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) beat out Rep. Dan McCarthy (R-TX) for the coveted Homeland Security panel Chairmanship, filling the void left by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), who retired from Congress.
Green intends to have two full-time committee staffers working from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The staffers will ”be sitting there with [Customs and Border Protection],” Green told reporters, “sending us real time updates on what CBP needs and the issues – whether it’s a big drug bust at the border, we’ll send a bunch of members down for, you know, for that and those kinds of things.”
The panel has a major role in oversight and policy in relation to the migrant crisis and intends to bring Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in to testify.
Green added that he intends to focus not only on the physical border but on cybersecurity and inter-agency responsibilities in cyberspace.
Green is a member of the House Freedom Caucus with his selection as leader of the panel a huge win for the conservative group, which was pressing for more representation in committee chairmanships and on key panels.
Green praised his competitor Crenshaw, a longtime opponent of the House Freedom Caucus, as one of his “best friends in Congress” and said beating him for the gavel was “not easy.”
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