The Office of Congressional Ethics has asked Rep. Spencer Bachus for information about a series of stock trades he made in 2008, and hes been criticized by Republicans for how he handled negotiations over the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
GOP aides said they expect Bachus to retain the gavel through the end of this Congress, in part because term limits will force him to relinquish the top GOP slot on the panel at that time.
If Bachus were to step down, it could set off a contentious battle for the seat because there is not a clear successor.
The committee’s website lists Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) as vice chairman. However, Hensarling is currently serving as the fourth-highest member of Republican leadership in his role as GOP Conference chairman. Members of House leadership traditionally do not chair committees.
Also, Hensarling is far down the seniority list on the committee.
In terms of GOP seniority, Bachus is followed by Rep. Peter King (N.Y.), who is already chairman of the Homeland Security Committee; Royce; Rep. Frank Lucas (Okla.), who is already chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), who is running for president and retiring from Congress.
A GOP aide said Royce has not been “in the loop” in committee business because he is not the chairman of any of its subcommittees. The source said Republicans would probably look to one of the current subcommittee chairman to replace Bachus.
Garrett, Capito and Biggert have been mentioned as possible successors to Bachus.
A second GOP aide, however, said he expected Royce would get the chairmanship if Bachus departed and noted the California Republican has been vigorously helping his colleagues raise campaign funds, which could bolster his support.