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Cover Story

New GOP House Chairmen: The Early Line

The early betting on who will head the panels if the GOP takes over.

Here’s the early betting on who will head committees if Republicans regain control of the House, based on reporting by National Journal’s Major Garrett.




* Ranking member likely to become chairman
** Someone other than ranking member likely to become chairman
? Unclear who would become chairman
x GOP leadership would likely kill committee



Ranking member: Frank Lucas, Oklahoma


Likely chairman: Frank Lucas, Oklahoma  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. Lucas owns a farm and cattle ranch in Cheyenne, Okla. He won a special election in May 1994, a victory that foreshadowed the GOP wave that year. He’s played a big role in the last two farms bills. The 2002 bill helped unravel 1990s cuts to farm subsidies. His district is 15th on the list of top subsidy-receiving districts.


Ranking member: Jerry Lewis, California

Likely chairman: Unclear (?)


Anaylsis: Lewis needs a waiver since he’s served as top committee Republican for six years. Harold Rogers of Kentucky is also vying and has a contingent of supporters who oppose all chairmanship waivers. To some, Lewis is a symbol of D.C. spenders. In 2007, he was fifth in the House in home-district earmarks with $137 million.


Ranking member: Buck McKeon, California

Likely chairman: Buck McKeon, California  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. A Boehner protégé, McKeon was chairman and ranking Republican on Boehner’s old committee, Education and Labor, before leaving that post in 2009 to become the top Republican on Armed Services. He’s 17th on the list of top 20 Republican donors backing GOP candidates this cycle.

Committee: BUDGET

Ranking member: Paul Ryan, Wisconisin

Likely chairman: Paul Ryan, Wisconisin  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. Ryan is an idea dynamo and has drawn up the most specific plan to reduce long-term entitlement spending. Look for him to expand the committee’s role in the appropriations process.


Ranking member: John Kline, Minnesota

Likely chairman: John Kline, Minnesota  (*)

Anaylsis: Elected in 2002, Kline is another Boehner loyalist and staunch fiscal and social conservative, workmanlike on the committee and a fierce campaigner who won his seat in 2002 on the third try. He’s 16th on the list of top 20 Republican donors financing candidates this cycle.


Ranking member: Joe Barton, Texas

Likely chairman: Unclear (?)

Anaylsis: Barton would need a waiver, having served as the top Republican for six years. He infuriated leadership and rank-and-file members when he called the White House-engineered $20 billion BP fund for oil-spill victims a “shakedown.” Barton is the 12th most generous donor to this year’s GOP candidates.  Fred Upton of Michigan and John Shimkus of Illinois are the alternatives.


Ranking member: James Sensenbrenner,  Wisconsin

Likely chairman: None (x)

Anaylsis: The GOP leadership would kill this committee, created by Speaker Pelosi to highlight global-warming issues. GOP leaders would fold its role into the Science and Technology Committee.


Ranking member: Spencer Bachus, Alabama

Likely chairman: Unclear (?)

Anaylsis: Bachus has a reputation as the man who got rolled by the Democrats in the debate over financial-services regulation; some Republicans think he is therefore ill-suited to wage the fight to rewrite that law. The next most likely chairman would be Ed Royce of California. Others with interest: Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Scott Garrett of New Jersey.


Ranking member: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida

Likely chairman: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. Ros-Lehtinen would be the only woman to lead a committee and was the first Cuban-American and first Hispanic woman elected to Congress. Lehtinen refused to sign the 1994 Contract With America and opposed the 1996 welfare-reform law.


Ranking member: Peter King, New York

Likely chairman: Unclear (?)

Anaylsis: King is term-limited and would need a waiver. He has carved out a national profile on homeland-security issues, but waivers will be hard to come by. Candice Miller of Michigan wants the post and is close to leadership.


Ranking member: Dan Lungren, California

Likely chairman: Dan Lungren, California  (*)

Anaylsis: If Lungren can hold onto his 3rd District seat (by no means certain), this low-wattage committee is his.


Ranking member: Pete Hoekstra, Michigan

Likely chairman: Unclear (?)

Anaylsis: Hoesktra left the House to run for governor. Mac Thornberry of Texas would skip over Californian Elton Gallegly because he’s developed sharper expertise on intelligence and defense issues. Mike Rogers of Michigan is a former FBI agent and Boehner favorite for having clashed with House Democratic titans John Dingell and  the late John Murtha.

Committee: JUDICIARY

Ranking member: Lamar Smith, Texas

Likely chairman: Lamar Smith, Texas  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. Smith, a former reporter with the Christian Science Monitor, was elected in 1986 and his campaign was run by a then little-known operative named Karl Rove. Smith works well with Democrats and is a recognized party expert on cybersecurity, crime, and immigration policy.


Ranking member: Doc Hastings, Washington

Likely chairman: Doc Hastings, Washington  (*)

Anaylsis: Hastings is a friend and ally of Boehner’s. He landed as ranking member last year but has made little mark, in part because of deep divisions on environmental policy between the parties.


Ranking member: Darrell Issa, California

Likely chairman: Darrell Issa, California  (*)

Anaylsis: Complete lock for a lawmaker who used to sell car-alarm systems. Issa has already used his minority staff to push for committeewide investigations in to White House interference in party primaries. Issa has already prepared a small binder of investigations and congressional reforms he intends to pursue. He’s 15th on the list of biggest donors to GOP candidates this cycle.

Committee: RULES*

Ranking member: David Dreier, California

Likely chairman: David Dreier, California  (*)

Anaylsis: Done deal. Dreier gained this position through leadership appointment and is the only nonelected member of the formal GOP leadership team. His institutional knowledge and procedural ability and precision with its arcane language make him a cinch to regain the chairmanship he held from 1999
to 2006.


Ranking member: Ralph Hall, Texas

Likely chairman: Ralph Hall, Texas  (*)

Anaylsis: Hall is next in line and wants the chairmanship, having never run a committee for his adopted Republican Party. Hall, 87, is the oldest member of the House. He was elected as a Democrat in 1980 but switched parties in 2004 when faced with new district lines and numerous potential GOP challengers.


Ranking member: Sam Graves, Missouri

Likely chairman: Sam Graves, Missouri  (*)

Anaylsis: Graves is in line and has ruffled no feathers; GOPers, for good reason, don’t see this as a marquee committee and will leave the regular progression of members in place.


Ranking member: Jo Bonner, Alabama

Likely chairman: Jo Bonner, Alabama  (*)

Anaylsis: Service on this committee is a chore and nobody wants it. Bonner’s been a team player, serving on the Ethics Committee since 2007. With trials upcoming for Democrats Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California, continuity is key.


Ranking member: John Mica, Florida

Likely chairman: John Mica, Florida  (*)

Anaylsis: Mica has been a subcommittee chairman or ranking subcommittee member since 2001 and has written laws on airport security and passenger screening. He’s also responsible for the law allowing pilots to carry handguns into the cockpit.


Ranking member: Steve Buyer, Indiana

Likely chairman: Jeff Miller, Florida (**)

Anaylsis: Miller would jump four slots to land the chairmanship (Buyer and Henry Brown of South Carolina retired, and Jerry Moran of Kansas is running for governor). Fellow Floridian Cliff Stearns is the only member with more seniority. Miller’s the favorite because he’s taken veterans and defense issues to heart, and both factor prominently in his district.


Ranking member: Dave Camp, Michigan

Likely chairman: Dave Camp, Michigan  (*)

Anaylsis: Camp is sixth on the top-20 list of GOP incumbents contributing to challengers this cycle. This reinforces Camp’s insider credentials. He outraised Wally Herger of California and catapulted over him in 2008 to be the ranking member on Ways and Means. He also played a key role on welfare reform in 1996.


This article appears in the October 27, 2010 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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