Buchanan in hunt for coveted committee chairmanship in the U.S. House

The Sarasota Republican would be the first from the Florida delegation to land a chairmanship in five years.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. is in the running for chairmanship of the powerful U.S. Ways and Means Committee. [CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press]
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. is in the running for chairmanship of the powerful U.S. Ways and Means Committee. [CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press] [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
Published Dec. 2, 2022

Buchanan a top candidate for Ways & Means chair

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, is in the running and may be frontrunner for one of the most powerful posts in the U.S. House, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

It has jurisdiction over areas including taxation, debt, and revenues for Social Security and Medicare.

If he wins, it would end a drought for Florida. With the second largest Republican delegation in the House, Florida hasn’t had a House committee chairman since Rep. Jeff Miller on the Veterans Affairs Committee in 2017, and “deserves a seat at the table,” said Buchanan adviser Max Goodman.

Buchanan’s role as a leading fundraiser for other GOP candidates during the 2022 election cycle, in which he reportedly raised more than $4 million, the most of any member outside of leadership, could boost his campaign for the post.

So could Florida’s role in the Nov. 8 election, as the state where Republicans won while performing under expectations almost everywhere else. The Sunshine State contributed four new GOP seats to build the party’s new majority.

“The red wave here shows the importance of the state to the national Republican Party,” said Liz Hittos, chief of staff for Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.

Buchanan is competing for the post with Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., according to congressional staffers and various news reports.

The chairman will be chosen by the Republican Steering Committee, a committee of about 30 members, including leaders, regional representatives and at-large members. It may vote as early as next week.

GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who has fundraised alongside Buchanan, will have a weighted vote.

Having a representative in the powerful post could be beneficial to the Tampa Bay area, as when the late Rep. CW Bill Young, R-St. Petersburg, chaired the Appropriations Committee from 1999-2005.

“Florida is an exploding state in terms of population and economic growth and a major destination point for seniors all over the country,” Buchanan said in a statement. “The Ways & Means Committee oversees issues important to our region and state such as tax and trade policy as well as Medicare and Social Security.”

Goodman noted that Buchanan’s experience gives him a claim to the post — during his time on the committee, he has chaired five of its six subcommittees.

In his campaign, Buchanan touts his own business experience as head of a string of auto dealerships, and his work in Congress cutting business taxes.