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Rep. Ken Buck

HFC freshmen angle for open Judiciary spot

News: Freshmen hardliners are jumping at the chance to fill the open seat on the House Judiciary Committee, where they could directly go after the Biden administration and be a part of the impeachment inquiry into the president.

At least two freshmen members of the House Freedom Caucus have expressed interest in filling former Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) seat on the panel. Speaker Mike Johnson and the Steering Committee will ultimately get the say in who will succeed Buck.

“I’d happily serve there if needed,” Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) told us, before adding, “I don’t think I’m high on anyone in leadership’s list to fill coveted spots like that.”

Crane, of course, was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) also said he would be interested in the spot, noting that he currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

People close to Johnson said the speaker will have a definite interest in filling the open spot given his longtime experience serving on Judiciary.

Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will also have heavy input here. Jordan told us he’s still in the process of consulting with members and staff about who wants to join.

“We’ll see who wants to come on, but we’ll get a new member I’m sure,” Jordan said. “I thought he was going to stay, but Mr. Buck has had different positions from me and most of the Republicans in the conference for a while.”

Buck stops here: Buck, who resigned earlier this month, has long been a thorn in leadership’s side, particularly on the Judiciary panel.

Buck openly criticized much of the House GOP’s political agenda. He was one of the biggest impeachment skeptics in Congress, casting doubt that there is enough evidence to impeach President Joe Biden.

And let’s not forget that the Colorado Republican also helped tank Jordan’s bid for speaker last fall, disagreeing with Jordan’s decision not to certify the 2020 election for Biden.

Judiciary Republicans said they want Buck’s replacement to be someone who agrees with the work they’re doing on the panel.

“I hope it will be a conservative who will be part of the team that contributes to the work that we’re doing,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told us.

Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) said he wanted someone who would prioritize working on border security measures and “the weaponization of the federal government.”

“I certainly hope it’s a true conservative fighter,” Moore told us.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Democrats said that Buck’s absence will be a loss for a more nuanced view on the panel. Here’s Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.):

Buck’s departure will also leave an absence on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. There’s no timeline to fill these positions for now.

To wit, the House Intelligence Committee has had an opening for more than five months. And Johnson can simply place someone on that panel. The House Republican Steering Committee needs to approve the next member of the Judiciary Committee.

— Mica Soellner

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