Feb. 13, 2016
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling is a lock to lead the Financial Services Committee next year.

Term Limits Heat Up GOP Gavel Contests

With nearly half of all House Republican committee chairmanships up for grabs next year, Members have started maneuvering to raise their profiles ahead of a round of spirited gavel races.

At least two decisions seem to be already made: Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) is a lock to lead the Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Va.) will most likely take the helm of the Judiciary Committee.

But other committee races look to be competitive.

Headlining the contests is the scramble for the gavel of the Homeland Security Committee. Current Chairman Peter King (N.Y.) has yet to announce whether he will ask for a waiver to allow him to remain past his term limit.

"I think all of us should wait until the election is over, see if we are re-elected, and then see what the Speaker's intentions are about chairmanships," King said in a statement.

The Republican Steering Committee would have to approve a waiver, but it has done so in few instances. If King is forced to step down, a crowded field of subcommittee chairmen awaits to take his seat.

Rep. Candice Miller (Mich.) is anything but a lock for the top spot. She would be the only woman leading a committee, but she would be the fourth Michigander.

Reps. Michael McCaul (Texas) and Mike Rogers (Ala.) on the panel, who both are more senior than Miller, are actively seeking the chairmanship too, and GOP aides said the race is too close to handicap.

"I believe my qualifications and experience both on the Committee and prior to entering the Congress would well serve the Congress and the country," McCaul said in a statement.

"The main priority for our Republican team is to win in November and that's my focus right now. I am certainly interested in the position, and if chosen would be deeply honored to chair this important committee. But deciding who is best qualified for the job is a matter left for later discussions among Leadership and Steering Committee members," Rogers said in a statement.

Miller declined to comment.

Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (Fla.) may also seek a waiver, his spokesman indicated, but it is unlikely he would get one.

"If you open that can worms, you have to open it for everyone," one GOP committee member said.

Rep. Bill Shuster (Pa.) is waiting in the wings to assume the job, and the committee member said, "Shuster is kind of a lock for that one."

The top spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee will be vacant next year, as Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), the only Hispanic-American and Republican chairing a panel, is term-limited and will not seek a waiver.

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