Plum Committee Slots Few and Far Between for GOP
The House Republican Steering Committee met Wednesday to assign committee slots, a process disappointing to many GOP Members given the slim number of seats available to them in the 111th Congress.
Appropriations had few vacancies, despite nine of its Members not returning to Congress. Open slots were given to Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
Cole was guaranteed support for an Appropriations seat this Congress by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) who has the most votes on the steering panel after the Oklahoma Republican agreed to withdraw his name from consideration for an open slot in the 110th Congress.
Despite a fresh push by outside conservative groups to place him on Appropriations, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was instead assigned to Oversight and Government Reform.
Seven Members on the Ways and Means Committee did not return in 2009, but Republicans lost only two seats on the powerful tax-writing panel. New Republican Members include Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), Geoff Davis (Ky.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Charles Boustany (La.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Peter Roskam (Ill.).
While five members of the Energy and Commerce panel did not return to the House this year, four Republican spots were eliminated from the panel for the 111th Congress. The lone GOP lawmaker named to the committee was Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.).
Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) was widely expected to take the open seat, but sources say he asked not to be considered because he might run for governor in 2010.
The Financial Services Committee faces an even tighter situation. Four Members did not return to the panel and four spots were eliminated, leaving no new openings for GOP lawmakers.