New House leader looks to strengthen committee chairmen role in new GOP appointments

WASHINGTON — The Republican takeover of the House means a complete turnover in committee chairmen, with the new, and sometimes returning, GOP chairmen coming in armed with the promise from their leaders that they will no longer be an afterthought. Who winds up where won't be made official until the new Congress takes office in January. But jockeying for key positions will be going on when the current Congress returns Nov. 15 for a lame-duck session.

Ohio Rep. John Boehner, positioned to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi as speaker, has pledged that committee chairmen will regain bill-writing authority.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Texan Ralph Hall, at 87 the oldest member in Congress, is poised to take over this panel that oversees energy and environmental issues, science education and space policy. He is a stalwart supporter of the Texas oil and gas industry and pushed for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. He has criticized President Barack Obama's plan to commercialize some space missions.

OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: California's Darrell Issa leaves no doubt that he'll change the direction of a committee that — to no one's surprise — did little to investigate the Obama administration. If administration officials refuse to cooperate, Issa could use his subpoena power.

INTELLIGENCE: Two Republicans are vying for its chairmanship: William "Mac" Thornberry, 52, whose family runs a cattle ranch in northern Texas, and Mike Rogers, 47, of Michigan. Thornberry proposed creating a new Homeland Security Department six months before the Sept. 11 attack. Rogers served in the Army in the 1980s before going to work for the FBI, investigating public corruption as part of the Chicago bureau's organized crime unit. He was an active player in moving the antiterrorist Patriot Act and in legislation on wiretapping.

SMALL BUSINESS: Sam Graves, a 10-year congressman from northwest Missouri is in line to take over this once minor panel that has gained in prominence as both Congress and the White House look to small businesses as a key developer of new jobs. Graves, 46, is a sixth-generation farmer who still helps out on the family farm when he returns to his district.

VETERANS AFFAIRS: Jeff Miller, a 51-year-old conservative from the Florida Panhandle, is seen as a leading candidate. Miller, a former real estate broker and deputy sheriff, has a large veteran population in his district and since coming to Congress has championed legislation to improve benefits for military personnel, veterans and their families.

WAYS AND MEANS: The next chairman will likely be Dave Camp, 57, a 20-year House veteran from Michigan. His reputation for getting along with people will be tested at Ways and Means, a notoriously partisan committee responsible for such divisive issues as health care, taxes, trade and Social Security. In the 1990s he played a key role in writing GOP legislation to overhaul the welfare system.

New House leader looks to strengthen committee chairmen role in new GOP appointments 11/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:10am]

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