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Rep. Luke Messer is running to be the House's fifth-ranking Republican.
A Senate committee grilled the college-sports president over mistreatment of student athletes.
"When is he going to take responsibility for something?" the speaker said of the president Thursday.
Lawmakers and legislative aides had been instructed to stay away.
Instead of focusing on the plight of children massed at the border, the president seems more intent on shifting blame and scoring political points against the GOP.
The president fills his Washington team with elected officials, altering the course of local politics.
The Georgia Republican will serve as caretaker of the conservative group until November, when new rules will be enforced in choosing the next chairman.