Gowdy Officially Becomes House Oversight Chairman

South Carolina Republican replaces Jason Chaffetz who leaves Congress this month

Former Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, left, is being replaced by Rep. Trey Gowdy, right, after the Utah Republican announced he will not running for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Trey Gowdy officially took hold of the gavel on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday.

The South Carolina Republican replaced previous Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who announced in April he would end his congressional term on June 30 after deciding not to run for re-election.

The Utah Republican submitted a letter resigning as chairman, which was read on the floor and effective immediately.

Earlier Tuesday, the House GOP conference ratified a decision made by the Steering Committee last week in choosing Gowdy to lead the panel.

[Chaffetz Departure Opens Coveted Oversight Chairmanship]

Gowdy is taking a prized role tasked with investigating the executive branch and overseeing the District of Columbia. Former Republican chairmen used the gavel to catapult them to national name recognition under former President Barack Obama.

But Gowdy faces a political conundrum of examining a presidential administration of his own party. He led a two-year probe into the 2012 Benghazi attacks on a select committee that questioned former secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the heat of the 2016 election.

The only other member of the panel’s majority to express an interest in replacing Chaffetz was Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma. 

Former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan also mulled the idea, but eventually backed out after acknowledging he had no chance with the Steering Committee, given his group’s frequent opposition to Republican leadership.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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