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Chaffetz Wins Four-Way Showdown for Oversight Gavel

Chaffetz will take over Oversight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There were hardly any surprises among the Republican Steering Committee's picks for chairmen in the 114th Congress, but the one major question decided on Tuesday was who would lead the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And the answer is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.  

The GOP Steering Committee announced their picks Tuesday night as Republicans gear up for a Congress in which they'll hold their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.  

There were few real decisions for the committee to make, but the biggest was who — Chaffetz, Michael R. Turner of Ohio, Jim Jordan of Ohio or John L. Mica of Florida — would pick up the gavel at the Oversight with Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stepping down.  

Chaffetz emerged earlier this fall as the slight favorite in the gavel fight after strong performances on oversight issues at the Secret Service. His argument for being the next chairman of the committee centered on his undivided attention on the committee. Chaffetz beating out Turner also has major implications at the House Armed Services Committee, as Turner held the most sought-after subcommittee chairmanship on the panel, Tactical Air and Land Forces. Turner moving to Oversight would have created some subcommittee movement.  

As for the remaining controversy and questions, John Kline of Minnesota was granted a waiver to stay on as Education and Workforce chairman; Paul D. Ryan was selected to be Ways and Means chairman, even though he already served four consecutive terms as the top Republican on the Budget Committee and may have his attention divided due to speculation that he may run for president; and, earlier in the day, Speaker John A. Boehner selected Devin Nunes, R-Calif., to lead the Intelligence Committee.  

On the four committees in which the speaker appoints a chairman, in addition to Nunes, Boehner selected Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent to lead the Ethics Committee, Pete Sessions of Texas to continue as Rules chairman, and Candice Miller of Michigan to continue as the House Administration chairwoman.  

Demographically, the chairmen in the 114th Congress will look a lot like the chairmen in the 113th. There will be only one woman serving as the head of a panel. All the chairmen are white. And six come from Texas. (There were five Texas chairmen in the 113th.)  

As for the remaining 17 committees, the Steering Committee recommended the following (new chairmen in bold):  

Agriculture – K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas Appropriations – Harold Rogers, R-Ky. Armed Services – Mac Thornberry, R-Texas Budget – Tom Price, R-Ga. Education and the Workforce – John Kline, R-Minn. Energy and Commerce – Fred Upton, R-Mich. Financial Services – Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas Foreign Affairs – Ed Royce, R-Calif. Homeland Security – Michael McCaul, R-Texas Judiciary – Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va. Natural Resources – Rob Bishop, R-Utah Oversight and Government Reform – Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah Science, Space and Technology – Lamar Smith, R-Texas Small Business – Steve Chabot, R-Ohio Transportation and Infrastructure – Bill Shuster, R-Pa. Veterans’ Affairs – Jeff Miller, R-Fla. Ways and Means – Paul Ryan, R-Wis. All the recommendations will have to be ratified by the full conference, though that step is almost pro forma. Republicans have not yet set a date for ratification but are expected to move soon to confirm the Steering Committee's picks.  

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