Kevin Brady Won’t Be Pushed Out of the Way by Paul Ryan

The more senior Republican says he will challenge the conservative favorite for Ways and Means gavel.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) listen to testimony from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner during a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee in the Longworth House Office Building October 29, 2013.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
March 8, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

Kev­in Brady likes and re­spects Paul Ry­an — but he doesn’t fear him.

Brady, a Texas Re­pub­lic­an, is next in line to chair the power­ful House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee. When Chair­man Dave Camp steps down in 2015 due to term lim­its, Brady, the most seni­or Re­pub­lic­an on the pan­el, plans to re­place him.

But seni­or­ity isn’t everything on Cap­it­ol Hill — not when Ry­an, the House Budget Com­mit­tee chair­man, former vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee, and con­ser­vat­ive wun­der­kind is con­cerned.

Ry­an, who is term-lim­ited on the Budget Com­mit­tee, de­clared in mid-Decem­ber that the Ways and Means chair­man­ship would be his next pur­suit. It’s been widely as­sumed since then that he would be awar­ded that job without hes­it­a­tion. Ry­an is well-liked by lead­er­ship, re­spec­ted throughout the con­fer­ence, versed in is­sues of tax­a­tion, and out­ranks al­most every Re­pub­lic­an on Ways and Means.

Every­one, ex­cept for Brady.

In an in­ter­view taped for C-SPAN’s News­makers, Brady said Ry­an is a “ter­rif­ic lead­er” but made clear that he won’t give up the Ways and Means gavel without a fight.

“Bot­tom line, I feel like I’m qual­i­fied and pre­pared to lead the com­mit­tee, and at the right time I’m go­ing to make that case to my col­leagues,” Brady said. “I think we have a strong case to make.”

But Brady, who also called Ry­an “a ter­rif­ic friend,” em­phas­ized that the in­tern­al cam­paign­ing will be re­spect­ful.

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“I don’t ex­pect it to be ac­ri­mo­ni­ous in any way. The truth is, Paul and I have sim­il­ar prin­ciples on many of these is­sues,” Brady said. “We are friends. We talk about this. We’re clearly both fo­cused on be­ing po­si­tioned to lead this com­mit­tee in the fu­ture.”

Ry­an’s of­fice de­clined to com­ment.

The chair­man­ships of vari­ous House com­mit­tees are de­term­ined by the Re­pub­lic­an Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, com­prised of lead­er­ship of­fi­cials as well as some rank-and-file law­makers. The Steer­ing Com­mit­tee in­ter­views can­did­ates be­fore mak­ing re­com­mend­a­tions on chair­man­ships, which are then brought be­fore the en­tire House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence for rat­i­fic­a­tion.

Brady said “the time is not quite right” to be­gin cam­paign­ing for the po­s­i­tion, and he would not spe­cify how much longer he’ll wait. But he poin­ted out that with Camp’s re­cent re­lease of the com­mit­tee’s tax re­form pro­pos­al — one three years in the mak­ing — both he and Ry­an are con­sumed with pro­mot­ing Camp’s plan.

“We’re both, in my view, fo­cused on help­ing ad­vance this tax-re­form dis­cus­sion draft, which I think is crit­ic­al,” Brady said, later adding: “We’re for­tu­nate that we’re go­ing to build off a very strong found­a­tion from Chair­man Camp.”

Brady, though well-re­spec­ted in con­ser­vat­ive circles and well-liked by Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship, isn’t the im­pos­ing fig­ure on the Hill that Ry­an is. Still, he doesn’t sound afraid to go toe-to-toe with the man who could one day oc­cupy the speak­er’s of­fice, if not the White House.

“I think a com­pet­i­tion of ideas is really healthy for our con­fer­ence,” Brady said.

News­makers airs on Sunday morn­ings at 10 a.m. East­ern time.

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