At least one powerful House committee has taken advantage of the turmoil inside the Energy and Commerce Committee and requested that Republican leadership remove energy matters from its jurisdiction.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who is expected to be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee in the 112th Congress, confirmed that Hastings believes a change in jurisdiction would benefit the Conference as a whole.
“Establishing an ‘Energy and Natural Resources Committee’ is a proposal that deserves consideration,” spokeswoman Jill Strait said. “The Natural Resources Committee is an energy committee with jurisdiction over all onshore and offshore energy development on federal lands — which is the vast majority of America’s energy resources.”
Strait said “consolidating the Commerce Committee’s energy portfolio into the Natural Resources Committee” would give Republicans a better way to advance their “all-of-the-above energy bill” and level the power of the committees.
A spokeswoman for the Energy and Commerce Committee responded Wednesday night, “Our philosophy has been one House, one committee but so far we haven’t convinced the other committees to help us with our quest.”
A senior GOP aide close to the Energy and Commerce Committee said ranking member Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) status as a “lame duck” leader of the panel has made the committee more vulnerable to pillaging by other committees.
“Leadership knows better than to take away energy from the committee. It would weaken our hand to fight the EPA, White House and Senate,” the senior GOP aide said. “The job-killing regulations we need to fight tie energy and environment together. Why split that?”
Barton, who has served three terms as the top Republican on the panel, will need a waiver from the Republican Steering Committee in order to serve a fourth term under House Republican Conference rules.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced Tuesday that he will challenge Barton for the post, while Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) has indicated he will make a run for the post if Barton does not obtain a waiver.
Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) will ultimately make the decision on committee jurisdiction.
A Boehner spokesman declined to comment on the issue.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.