New Education and Labor Ranking Member to Be Chosen Wednesday

Posted June 13, 2009 at 10:04am

The House Republican Steering Committee will meet on Wednesday to choose who will replace Rep. Howard McKeon (Calif.) as the ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Reps. Joe Wilson (S.C.) and John Kline (Minn.) have announced they are seeking the position. They are the ninth- and 10th-most ranking Republicans on the committee. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), the 11th-most senior Republican, has also expressed interest in the post, according to her spokesman.

Senior members Tom Petri (Wis.), Mike Castle (Del.), Mark Souder (Ind.) and Judy Biggert (Ill.) have all indicated they would not seek the post.

McKeon was chosen to replace Rep. John McHugh (N.Y.) as the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee on June 9. McHugh has been nominated to become secretary of the Army.

Kline, like McKeon, has a close relationship with Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), and that could give him a slight advantage since Boehner has the most votes on the 28-member steering panel. Kline currently serves as the ranking member of the panel’s subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

Wilson, a loyal partisan and reliable fundraiser, has been passed over for plum committee assignments in the past. Several rank-and-file Republicans speculated that the steering committee could use the position to reward Wilson for his service. His slightly more senior position on the committee could also play in his favor.

McMorris Rodgers is also a close Boehner ally and she currently serves as the House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman.

Unlike the heated competition for the ranking slot on the Armed Services committee, where McKeon battled it out against Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (Md.) and Mac Thornberry (Texas), Members involved in the race for the Education and Labor post stressed that the race was a friendly endeavor.

“Not an acrimonious contest,— Kline said. “We are all friends making our case to the Steering Committee.—

Wilson went so far as to correct himself for using the word “competition— when describing the race. He said he saw it more as an “intramural contest.—

“I have a high regard for [the Members] that are considering running,— he said.