More than 40 current Republican lawmakers and incoming freshmen have requested positions on either Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce ó far more than can be accommodated since leadership has pledged to cut committee size on both sides of the aisle. Five Republicans on the Energy panel will not return this cycle, and two are gone from Ways and Means.
Whether to place members of the large freshman class on committees where few freshmen have ever set foot is also an ongoing debate behind closed doors, according to several Republicans familiar with the discussion process.
Several in the large, influential class have already been given unprecedented access to the leadership table and the Steering Committee.
For Democrats, the question of which Members prosper in a smaller committee landscape may be a matter of loyalty.
Some Democrats fear outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi will keep her allies on key committees and bump those who didnít support her decision to stay in leadership. In particular, some Members have worried because the California Democratís closest Caucus allies, Reps. George Miller (Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), are expected to be named policy co-chairmen on the Steering Committee, which determines committee assignments.
But despite the talk, Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah), co-chairman of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and a Pelosi critic, said after the midterm elections that he wasnít worried about losing committee assignments because of Caucus politics.
And Rep. Mike Ross, who has come out strongly against Pelosi continuing in leadership, dismissed any suggestion that she might retaliate by kicking him or other foes off of their committees. The Arkansas Democrat has a prized slot on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
ďSomething like thatís never been done and never would be,Ē he said confidently.
Asked if it would be a big problem if it happened anyway, he smiled. ďWhat do you think?Ē
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.