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Mike Johnson gavels

The House GOP’s committee scramble

Recently, we examined the landscape for committee chairs if Democrats take the House on Nov. 5. This morning, we’re going to dig into the GOP outlook.

House Republicans have six-year term limits for their committee chairs, which includes time spent as ranking member in the minority. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. One perceived advantage is that Republicans don’t have lawmakers like Rep. Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), who has been the top Democrat on the Small Business Committee for 26 years. But a disadvantage is that committee chairs only have six years to get things done.

We’re going to focus today on the committees that are — or could — turn over next year. If we somehow missed you and you want to be a committee chair or ranking member, please shoot us a note and we’ll write about it.

Rules. The Rules Committee, like the House Intelligence Committee, is a speaker-appointed panel. That includes who gets to serve as chair. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) stepped in for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who ran the panel before taking the Appropriations gavel after Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) stepped down from that post.

Burgess is retiring, which presents Speaker Mike Johnson with an interesting opportunity. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) wants the Rules gavel, but he’s also chief deputy whip. There’s some scuttlebutt that Reschenthaler can take both jobs. Yet that doesn’t seem terribly feasible unless Republicans are in the minority.

Johnson may want to blow up the Rules Committee given the huge problems that House GOP leaders have had with hardline conservatives on the panel, although that would depend on Johnson’s margin of control in the next Congress. Johnson has also shown a willingness to install hardliners in critical positions. See his recent choices for the Intelligence Committee, for instance.

Possible picks to lead the panel include Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-N.Y.) or Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), both of whom currently have seats on it. But again, this all depends on how much Johnson wants to overhaul Rules.

Energy and Commerce. With Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) retiring, the top E&C spot will be open. This is a hugely important gavel. As the late Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) was known to say about his committee’s authority: “If it moves it’s energy, and if it doesn’t, it’s commerce.”

The main candidates here are Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.). Both are well-liked members who have been in the House for more than a decade; Guthrie since 2009 and Latta since 2007. Guthrie probably has a slight edge in financial contributions to the NRCC and other Republicans. Latta has seniority.

But consider this — If Republicans keep the majority, could the Steering Committee look down the dais and tap Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.)? Hudson is the NRCC chair this cycle, will be top five in seniority and could make a play if it’s a good outcome for Republicans on Election Day.

Financial Services. Our Vault team has covered this race like no one else. So subscribe now! But we’ll dive in here briefly. Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), French Hill (R-Ark.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.) are all vying for the gavel. Who has an edge? It’s truly impossible to know. We don’t know what the Steering Committee will look like next Congress.

What we do know is that House GOP rules forbid a committee chair from running for higher office, and many Republicans think Barr is eyeing a statewide race. Huizenga just had a visit from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), which may signal that he has support from conservatives. Lucas has already chaired two committees — Agriculture and Science, Space and Technology.

In the meantime, this crew will send millions to the NRCC to curry favor.

Education and the Workforce. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) got a waiver to continue serving as chair of the Education and the Workforce Committee this Congress. Foxx has already told us she won’t seek another one, so there will be a new top Republican next year. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) ran against Foxx in 2023 and he is running again. Walberg is No. 4 in seniority on the panel.

Foreign Affairs. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has chaired the panel since the beginning of this Congress, having served as ranking member for the previous two terms. McCaul — who’s also chaired the Homeland Security Committee — will need a waiver to stay in place.

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the panel’s current vice chair, is seriously considering a run. Wagner was U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under former President George W. Bush. Several Republicans on the panel have more seniority than Wagner, including Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Science, Space and Technology. As we scooped last week, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) is seeking this chairmanship. Babin, as of now, is the only one doing so.

Transportation and Infrastructure. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) is on a quest to get a waiver. But, again, we don’t expect that will happen. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) is No. 2 on the committee and is already running for chair. Crawford looks like a lock if Graves doesn’t get a waiver.

— Jake Sherman

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