The third most senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee is preparing to run for the party's top spot on that committee in the 114th Congress.
Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia announced his ambitions in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
"As the 114th Congress, we will need a strong and experienced voice leading Democrats on the Committee to continue to fight for our principles in education and the labor policy," Scott said. "Over the next weeks and months, I will be discussing my interest in serving as Chairman or Ranking Member of this critical Committee with my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus and stakeholders outside of Congress."
Scott's is the first public statement of intent to be issued since the committee's long-serving No. 1 Democrat — 20-term California Rep. George Miller — announced that he would retire by the year's end. Political observers wondered whether the soon-to-be-vacant ranking member's slot would set off a turf war between Scott and Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J., the second in Democratic seniority on the Education and the Workforce panel and co-chairman of the caucus's Steering and Policy Committee.
Andrews' announcement Tuesday that he is resigning in a few weeks to take a new job, under the cloud of an ethics investigation, however, paves the way for Scott to be a front-runner for the position.
Though having seniority isn't the key to winning the title of ranking member or chairman in the House Democratic Caucus, members err toward rewarding their colleagues for years of service and the extent to which they have paid their dues.
The test of seniority versus the ability to leverage personal relationships and alliances within the caucus will play out in the race for another ranking member seat in the wake of a retirement of a long-serving chairman. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., are both already lobbying their peers for the party's top spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee , which will be given up by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who is stepping down in December.
Pallone is currently the No 3. Democrat on Energy and Commerce, while Eshoo comes in at No. 5.
Here is Scott's full statement:
"With the retirement of Ranking Member George Miller and today's announcement that Congressman Rob Andrews will be leaving Congress at the end of this month, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is losing two staunch advocates for America's students and workers. Their expertise, passion, and leadership on the Committee have improved the lives of millions of Americans. I have enjoyed serving with Ranking Member Miller and Congressman Andrews on the Committee for the last 21 years and I have also valued their friendship. There are critical issues under the jurisdiction of this Committee that Congress must address this year, such as reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring retirement security for our nation's seniors. I know Ranking Member Miller will continue to be the Democratic Caucus' leading advocate on these issues for the remainder of the 113th Congress. "As for the 114th Congress, we will need a strong and experienced voice leading Democrats on the Committee to continue to fight for our principles in education and labor policy. Over the next weeks and months, I will be discussing my interest in serving as Chairman or Ranking Member of this critical Committee with my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus and stakeholders outside of Congress."